Craig’s Summer Letter

Dear Fellow Gardeners,
Writing this in the first week of summer sure doesn’t seem like I am in the right season, at least today. This is one of many recent cool rainy days collecting over 4" in a week’s time. Of course, last week we had 95 degree heat and tomorrow there might be a glimmer of summer hope and sunshine. Here in the Midwestern US, we wait so long for our short summers and this year in particular, Mother Nature has been a real tease.

I will tell you that with all of our rain and cool temperatures so far, there isn’t a vestige of the brutality of the 2 year drought we had just a year and a half ago. VERDANT is a perfect word to describe our gardens this year. Shade trees are laden with new growth and shade is a common denominator in repurposed shady spots this year. Any plant that is culturally in the right spot is thriving, and those on the edge of “well-drained, moisture retentive soil” we see the oxymoron in so many catalog descriptions are struggling with our saturate sub-soils.

I am suspect of high summer insect infestations with this mild start to summer but until a problem, we are enjoying the heady fragrance of the Gallica and Bourbon roses this time in our orchard. The rugosa hybrids have been stunning with masses of flowers so I hope for a beautiful rose hip display in the fall.

As I walk the gardens morning, noon, and night I have come to realize that a happy bird is a singing member of the garden almost all day long. I even heard a hooting owl the other night on the last walk of the day for the dogs. I bet that owl is a happy camper this year when it comes to food since I have yet to see such a robust population of chipmunks and rabbits in our garden the past 7 years. Even our ‘Marjorie Fair’ musk rose had been chewed to the ground after they were fully budded and about to bloom. For safety’s sake, we are keeping the asters caged with chicken wire but lost the poppy seedlings and many delphinium in the Blue Border – darn it!

Working and living in the garden is always a humbling and gratifying way to live and spend the day. The garden enables me to daydream of things non-work or stress related and fuels me.  For the bumps in my work day, there is nothing quite like seeing a loved terrier as it disappears into a boxwood hedge and pop out 20 feet away: wet, muddy and smiling. Now that’s a sign of good-living for canine and human.

On this soggy, dark morning, I decided to wear a burgundy, orange and pink plaid shirt to brighten the day and to bring summer cherries and baked goods into the office. As I waited for my venti non-fat latte at the coffee counter after collecting my food goodies, I was told that the manager of the store treated me to my coffee – a sunny moment on this gloomiest of days. This gift of kindness just made my day and caffeinated me for what was to come next!

May your summer be full of beauty, good health and acts of kindness. Summer bounty yields more than just nice weather and mosquitos, if we keep our minds and hearts open to all that reveals itself to us.

Be well,