A Gardener’s Tale in the Dog Days of Summer

It’s easy for me to feel lethargic, even defeated, during these hot and humid dog days of summer. One ninety-degree-plus day rolls into another. If there’s no rain for a day or two and I forget to water the plants the sprinkler system doesn’t hit, I may go outside and find dead flowers.

I hadn’t yet had a chance to re-pot these black-eyed Susans I got for half-price at Allen’s Nursery before they shriveled in their tiny containers. Sad little plants, I hardly knew ye.

Water or no water, by this point in the summer, some plants have simply run their course. I had a good harvest, but by late July, this particular type of cucumber is done. Nothing left but dead vines.

Then there’s the hydrangea that had beautiful blooms last year but was accidentally pruned early this summer at the wrong time. Nice foliage, but just one flower, now past its prime, that escaped the shears.

Like life itself, a summer yard and garden can be disappointing. But also, I remind myself, for all that dies too soon, doesn’t bloom, or simply runs its course, there are other plants that still provide beauty or produce.

The crepe myrtles, for example, have been stunning this year. Nature must have supplied just the right amount of water and sunshine for optimal blooms. I have several glorious trees–some pink, some lavender, some white–in my yard.

And the red begonias I planted in May in the front yard are still flourishing, looking more brilliant every day. They’re in an area hit by the sprinkler system, and if past years are any indication, they’ll last until frost.

I planted two types of cucumbers, and surprisingly, the variety at the edge of my shrubs is still alive and producing. I plant cucumbers in this same spot every year, ignoring the principle of crop rotation, and so far, I’m having better luck with my shrub bed cucumbers than with the hills I cultivated in my small designated garden spot (see dead vines above).

Again, the moral of my gardening tale is this: not everything turns out the way we want it to or lasts as long as we’d like. Try to overlook what fails, though, and dwell on all that’s good. For every shriveled black-eyed Susan, there are plenty of beautifully blooming begonias.

And in my case, it also helps that no matter how hot it gets outside during these dog days of summer, it’s always a delicious 75 degrees indoors.

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