Farewell to Summer?

So we are back from our trip, and I find that Summer in our garden is coming to an end.

My front garden, mixing natives and exotics in mid-summer.
My front garden, mixing natives and exotics in mid-summer.

Some of the summer flowers are in slow decline. Others, like the Monardas and Silphiums, are done for the year. Now the birds come to feast on their seeds, a sight that inspires great pleasure for me.

2014-10-20 09.25.03 sunflower and Joe Pye weed

On the other hand, many of the annuals are putting on an extra-energetic burst of bloom, as if they are making the most of the time that remains before the first hard frost.

Cup Plant, Silphium perfoliatum
Cup Plant. Hello up there!

Of course, autumn has its own beauties, and we can talk about those in the next few weeks. But for now it must be said that in our garden, at least, summer is the climactic season, a time of brilliant color and towering stems. And so autumn, though a season of fruitfulness, is also a time of drowsiness, preparatory to the sleep of winter.

Goldfinch feeding on Cup Plant
Goldfinch feeding on Cup Plant

But we should not mourn the summer garden. It was not more or less beautiful because it was temporary. If we were smart we took advantage of summer to experience as many moments of garden joy as we possibly could.

So is this one of those essays about just living in the moment? Certainly not. Summer in the garden is temporary, but it does not exist in isolation. The glory of each summer is built on plant growth and gardeners’ work from summers, springs, and autumns past. So let your autumn and winter be filled with dreams and plans for a brilliant summer to come.

I am linking this post to Beth’s Lesson’s Learned meme at Plant Postings, and Donna’s Seasonal Celebrations at Garden’s Eye View. Click on the links for more, you won’t regret it.

52 Comments on “Farewell to Summer?

  1. So true that the summer burst of bloom seemed to come and go in the blink of an eye, but it was glorious while it lasted. I like the cooler days of autumn and the slow, winding down.
    The goldfinch on the cup plant is a joy to see.

  2. Such a thoughtful essay. My poor garden needs this fall and winter as a break. It is nearly broiled to a crisp. Looking forward to seeing what all you are going to share about your drowsy garden.

    • Summer is in fact not always beautiful. There are years of drought and oppressive heat. Overall, we had a pretty good one here, though.

  3. Wise words, Jason. My garden is slipping into its autumn mode, too. Autumn as a time of garden drowsiness–well said! Thanks for joining in the memes, and happy autumn!

    • The goldenrods are blooming, but most of the asters are still in bud. And today started hot but then cooled off. So the seasonal switch has not been completed.

  4. Lovely post and your sentiments about the summer garden ring true for the other seasons, as well as life.

  5. Lovely words Jason, I enjoyed your essay and the views of your garden and the joyful description of birds feasting on seed heads. Lovely photo too of the Goldfinch.

  6. Lovely post – as the saying goes, “What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness”

    • That’s interesting. It seems there are a number of birds that have the same common names in the UK and US but are quite distinct – robins, for example.

  7. Even though we’re looking at one last (I hope) blast of hot weather, there seems to be a lightness to the air that I relish. Still Indian Summer to look forward to before wettling down before a cozy fire with a good book. S’all good!

  8. I can’t imagine gardening in a climate where it was always summer. I love gardening, but I really like the break that comes with autumn and winter. And I feel that the ephemeral nature of flowers is one of the things that makes them so special.

  9. Good point Jason, that the summer glory of bloom is based on all the seasons and hard work that came before. I like all seasons and every year do look forward to fall and winter. Each has its own beauty and distinctive color palette.

  10. Summer is also coming to an end here. Cool mornings and at the moment dry and sunny. I´m already looking ahead, and planning for next spring and summer. Autumn is also beautiful in its own way, and now is the time to divide plants, and decide where to put new bulbs etc.

  11. I’ve never heard it put quite that way “The glory of each summer is built on plant growth and gardeners’ work from summers, springs, and autumns past” and find that sentence quite inspiring. I do believe trying to remember that will help me better deal with the end of summer in my garden, which is always a hard pill to swallow.

    Oh and when, typically, is your first frost? Just curious.

  12. As summer ends so does my garden. I cherish the remaining blooms and am thinking forward to spring and what changes might improve the garden.

  13. Think of how fortunate we are, Jason, to live in an area that has seasons. I seem to spend a lot of time waiting for the next season to come and pining for the one just past and always thinking, just like your Cubs’ fans (don’t know if you are one) “Wait till next year!”

  14. Welcome back! Your garden is still looking good, despite your travels and the changing season. My favourite season is autumn, so I don’t mind bidding farewell to summer. In fact, I really love the turning point of summer into autumn.

  15. The seasons are what we enjoy so much. I should hate it if the garden was the same all year round. It needs its winter rest, and so do we.
    I love your American goldfinch, posing so elegantly on the yellow cup flower. What on earth is a cup flower?

    • Cup Plant is Silphium perfoliatum, a tall sunflower-like plant that enjoys moist prairies. The leaves are perfoliate, so they form little cups around the stem that fill with rain water.

  16. Hi Jason, I can see it in the light in your photos. Here too, we had a wet period but it’s been dry and fine recently, allowing me to get on with the borders, but the window of fine weather is coming to and end and there’s rain forecast. I think we’re coming to the end of summer too and some plants are already turning colour. I’m not ready for it yet!

  17. I am very late in reading blogs, but will be catching up….it seems I am always catching up!

    But I am so happy to have read this amazing post Jason, and so grateful you have linked it with Seasonal Celebrations. What an wonderful lesson we all can learn….and I agree with others…the light in the photos here is breathtaking. Thanks again for supporting Seasonal Celebrations.

  18. Now I’m not saying a fast summer is a good thing, but it’s really not the length it’s the quality, right? When people complain about how short a time something like a peony lasts I just think that makes it more special.

    • Yeah, but don’t we all want more of what’s special? I’m willing to wager that the reduction in specialness will be more than offset by the increase in days!

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