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Taking a Deep Breath

June 24, 2010

Allium Globemaster transformation (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) There’s a moment each summer, usually in late June, when my garden seems to pause. The exuberant display of early summer is winding down. The Amsonia and the peonies have finished blooming. The early species daylily, Hemerocallis flava, has opened it’s last flower. Baptisia australis is exchanging its indigo flowers for pea-like seed pods, and Allium ‘Globemaster’ is well along in its transformation from flower head to seed head. The Geranium x cantabrigiense varieties are past the peak of their bloom and open fewer flowers each day. And, of the siberian irises that are the stars of my garden in early summer, only the late-blooming cultivar ‘Yankee Doodle Boy’ still has flowers.

Tradescantia 'Zwanenburg Blue' in bloom (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) It’s not that nothing is in bloom. Many varieties of hardy geranium are full of flowers, as are the tradescantias. Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla mollis) still sports frothy chartreuse plumes. The Clematis ‘Comtesse de Bouchaud’ has opened her first flowers on the fence, and Spirea japonica ‘Magic Carpet’ is blooming.

But there’s less happening now than a week or two ago, and far less than what is to come. It is as though the garden is taking a deep breath, gathering its energies in preparation for the grand exhalation of beauty and bounty that is high summer.

Delphinium inflorescences (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) This is a moment of sublime anticipation. It’s not the anticipation of Carly Simon’s song, where you forget to enjoy what’s happening today because you are so busy thinking about what will happen tomorrow. This is more like Winnie the Pooh’s moment before you begin eating the honey.

As I walk around the garden each morning, I am exquisitely aware of the unfolding drama. In the deck border, the spires of astilbe and goatsbeard (Aruncus dioicius) are about to burst into bloom; and in the blue and yellow border, the delphinium are stretching out their inflorescences to make the individual buds visible. The coreopsis and heliopsis plants are covered with flower buds. All over the garden, hostas are putting up flowers, and each day I count more and more flower scapes on the dozens of daylily varieties that will soon be the stars of the show.

Flower scapes on daylilies (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) Take a deep breath. We’re about to begin eating the honey!

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. June 24, 2010 2:27 pm

    Dear Jean, I do know exactly what you mean but for gardens, as I know you are aware, as in life, there are both high and low moments. It is, indeed, all part of Nature’s rhythm.

    And from what you describe there is still much that is in flower to be enjoyed and, as you point out, the best is yet to come.

  2. June 24, 2010 3:12 pm

    The joy of gardening, is that the garden is always in flux, and there’s always something else to look forward to. Much like your flower gardens, our vegetable gardens seem to be taking a breath too. After some wonderful early harvests, now we await the summer bounty, that promises to be that much better than our spring harvests. Please pass the honey pot…

  3. June 24, 2010 3:32 pm

    That’s funny…I like that comparison with Winnie the Pooh. It is like round 2 ready to begin.

  4. June 24, 2010 4:29 pm

    Had a splash of your honey in our dinner tonight.

  5. June 24, 2010 5:13 pm

    This post is sublime!
    I needed to take a deep breathe after reading it.

  6. sequoiagardens permalink
    June 24, 2010 6:03 pm

    Ho-hum de-dum
    ‘fore spring doth come
    I must think and plant
    but I’m scared I shant

    hmmm

    I must plant and fill
    and I know I will

    (and Pooh smiled smugly to himself)

  7. gardeningasylum permalink
    June 24, 2010 6:25 pm

    Oh Jean, I know exactly what you mean – now there’s just a bit of a pause as the first flush of spring fades and new buds fatten up!

  8. June 24, 2010 9:19 pm

    Waiting with baited breath for my daylilies, astilbe and lilies to open. Enjoy watching your garden exhale.

  9. June 25, 2010 7:53 am

    What a truly delightful post Jean. If we could all approach our gardens with the anticipation of delight of Winnie the Pooh (never disappointed, no matter how small the pleasure) what happy gardeners we would all be!
    I can’t wait to see your delphinium in glorius full bloom!

  10. June 25, 2010 8:26 am

    oooh! I can’t wait! I love to walk the garden everyday and see what’s happening. I am longing for Amsonia and plan a big drift of it in my new bed. I have yet to add Delphiniums but just toured some gardens that had such beautiful blue blooms – can’t wait to see yours! Did they open yet, huh, huh?

  11. June 25, 2010 9:36 am

    Jean, I can’t believe we are talking about July already! Our summer has been slow. we just started to have nice warm and dry days. Everything is different this year.

  12. June 25, 2010 7:02 pm

    Jean, June is also the month in which our garden seems to flourish as everything pops following months of rain that have now turned to sunshine.

    I absolutely adore the Aruncus dioicius and hope you show it in full bloom. Have a wonderful weekend.

  13. Jean permalink*
    June 25, 2010 10:48 pm

    I really enjoyed this set of comments, especially the ones that played with the various metaphors and allusions of the post.

    Kudos to Jack for coming up with the Winnie the Pooh gardening quote!

    And to Clare and Diana for incorporating the honey metaphor.

    And Heather deserves a special prize for managing to get both inhaling and exhaling into one brief comment.

    Heidi and VF, no delphiniums yet, but I did get home this evening after two days away to find that the goatsbeard and several varieties of astilbe were in bloom.

    Diana, I’ll try to get out and get a picture of the Aruncus dioicius this weekend.

  14. June 26, 2010 9:30 am

    Hi Jean, I have been keeping up with your posts via my email…just so you know I’ve been reading them–just not commenting! From your peonies, to your lovely Bloom-Day post, to your Iris varieties (all gorgeous) I have enjoyed them all! I’ll bet it’s been beautiful in person…and maybe the best is still yet to come! How wonderful your summers in Maine are! I would love to live there, for the summer, that is!! We will be in Maine on July 17th and will return on the 24th or 25th. My HS class was originally planning our 35th reunion for the 24th…now it’s up in the air whether there will even be any kind of meet-up. I guess they all got distracted and forgot to follow through with the planning. We will be staying in Bowerbank, near Dover Foxcroft, on Sebec Lake. On our way back we plan to visit 2 of my friends…1 has a camp on Long Lake…the other lives in Mass. (N.Andover). I’m not sure what your plans are but we could (potentially) do a ‘drive-by’ and a quick ‘shoutout’ if you’re up for it!? Just a thought…

  15. June 26, 2010 3:16 pm

    Jean – ‘taking a deep breath’; fantastic idea! I get so caught up in getting the gardens done (trying to “create Rome in a day”), that I have forgotten to savor what’s been accomplished. Time to go look at the ‘before’ pictures…. Thank you! -Shyrlene

  16. lostlandscape permalink
    June 27, 2010 1:59 am

    I like your observation about how the seasons progress. Most of our natives are beginning to take such long breaths that you’d think they were goners, though many will start up in the cooler, moister fall and winter. Thanks to our world of global horticultural exchange, however, summer brings some of the wild exotic pleasures that help me appreciate some of the other seasonal rhythms that are out there.

  17. June 30, 2010 2:23 am

    I LOVE this post, Jean. You are quite creative in your writing style and I really enjoyed reading it.

    And it’s all so true. A great post.

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