Towards the end of summer, the garden palette shifts to yellows and oranges, to match the fiery energy of the sun. This is the time for the black eyed Susans, blanket flowers, marigolds, goldenrod and tickseed to shine.
The vegetable patch usually joins into the warm color harmony with squashes and pumpkins, but sadly mine decided to skip this year. During a good year I can't keep the squashes out of my way, if nothing else they produce an abundance of foliage and cheerful golden flowers. Not this summer, I can't even find them.
Despite their sprawling habit and their broad foliage, which takes up way too much space in a tiny garden, squashes and pumpkins thrive in hot, dry weather. Well, there is always next year.
The garden is overdue a good weeding, but otherwise in reasonably good shape for this time of year, the August mess. A few handfuls of fertilizer wouldn't hurt either, at least for the veggies.
It was supposed to rain again tomorrow, but the sunset begs to differ, red sky at night and all.
The shade border rests at the end of summer, when it gets too warm and too dry for its taste. Since this summer was cool and rainy, the plants maintained the exuberant growth of early spring. The hostas are lush and full, the begonias are in full bloom and the toad lilies have doubled in size.
What to grow in the shade? Flowers. White, if you can, they stand out in low light.
In spring, hellebores, lily of the valley, trillium, Solomon's seal and bleeding hearts run the show, followed by the delicate fuzz of foam flowers. Later the clematis and the early hostas provide clusters of interest with bloom that lasts for weeks.
The tuberous begonia is the summer champion of the shade border, with its large exotic blooms that look like roses. Tuberous begonias bloom very reliably in full shade and withstand drought a lot better than one would think just by looking at them.
Plantain lilies come next, with the perfect combination of flowers, fragrance and showy foliage.
If you have acidic soil, hydrangeas and astilbe are great choices, and if the climate is not too hot, try snakeroot, a spectacular specimen plant with very dark, lacy foliage which, at the end of summer, sprouts airy wands that smell like vanilla and grape soda.
The fall is the season of the windflowers and the toad lilies.
Last but not least, the ground covers - alyssum, sweet woodruff and pachysandra, all of which have white flowers and perform very well in the shade.