By REBECCA NORTON RYAN
Member of Warren Garden Club and Penn State Master Gardener
By August my tasks in the garden have dwindled to water, weed and deadhead. Vacation is over, family reunion is over and many of my containers are looking a little weary. At this time of year I usually remember all those great summer activities we haven't enjoyed yet or great summer activities we need to do again.
August is about enjoying your garden
When you think of summer what activities do you dream about when the fire crackles in the fireplace, the sleet is hitting the window and gardening is months away? Those are the very things we skip as we become busy with gardening chores. As I pick up sticks I pile them next to our outdoor fire ring for a cozy campfire. Don't wait for company. Call the neighbors, grandchildren or enjoy an hour or two of quiet contemplation by yourself.
How about an evening walk around the block? I like to use this time to admire the neighbor's garden and pick up an idea or two for a new cultivar or gardening technique. (imitation is the sincerest form of flattery). Gardeners are always happy to show their handiwork and will usually welcome visitors.
We like to walk in the woods with our dogs everyday but somehow that special time gets pushed to last on the list. We have better luck getting our walk in early in the morning. I like that time of day better anyway. The light is prettier, the woods look fresh and dewy and we often have a better chance to enjoy the wildlife. When you get back from your walk you can water the flowers and deadhead the old ones. On a hot summer day it is good to have that task accomplished.
What about a nap in the hammock? We try to end our day at 4:00 and while that is not always successful, it is a worthy goal. That way there is time for a shower, a paragraph in your garden journal and a nap in the hammock before dinner time. The rest of the weeds in the perennial border will be there in the morning.
What about those social invitations you owe friends? Dinner can be as simple as hot dogs, hamburgers, corn on the cob, garden salad and ice cream cones for dessert. Friends will remember your after church Sunday brunch forever. A casserole (made the night before), breakfast breads (from the bakery), fruit and coffee and tea served on your deck will make memories for a lifetime. With company coming the gardener will be inspired to compost those tired old annuals and replace them with new plants for the late summer season.
Watch the newspaper for garden walks. Most are over now but you still can find one or two. Many of these people are almost professionals and the knowledge and experience they have with gardening in your area with your climate and challenges of your local soil are worth learning. Don't forget your camera, small garden journal and pen for writing the names of interesting plants.
We are now closer to the end of summer than we are to the beginning of summer. What are your favorite summer activities? Every family has their own list. Don't get caught up in the perfect summer garden and miss summer.