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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Stories from the Farm - Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

I wrote this post almost a couple of weeks ago at the end of July, so if the seasonal information seems dated, that's why. Today is a misty, cool August morning; the sun is not yet up and the ground is drenched with dew as are the spiderwebs. I hear the coo of the mourning dove at dawn. Then a honking sound alerts and I look up to see a flock of low-flying geese cloaked in mist making their way over our barn and I wish I'd had my camera at the ready.
Spiderweb in the morning mist
I'm always a little sad to see my ditch lilies go away at the end of July or early August. Actually it's kind of like that with every seasonal flower, starting with the forsythia, pussy willow, crocuses, daffodils, and hyacinths of early spring, then progressing to the tulips, lilacs and all the blooming trees and bushes of May, and as we approach Memorial Day, of course the peonies. Then there are the roses and hollyhocks of June. Watching these favorites fade away gives me a feeling a wistfulness mixed with hope - like how it must feel standing on a shore watching a ship-load of your friends sail away on a year-long voyage and wondering if you'll live to see them all again.

But it's especially like that with the ditch lilies - I suppose because they accompany me most of the summer not only in my flower beds but in my house.

Ditch lilies make wonderful additions to bouquets and will continue opening and blooming even after they are cut! So this year as they wane, I apply a liberal coat of Off (the flies and mosquitoes will eat you alive this year) and go out to cut the last beauties to bring inside.

Ditch Lily, Queen Anne, and Susan Bouquet
As mentioned in my previous post, this summer has been very "off" in terms of gardening. Twenty to thirty inches of rainfall and lack of sunshine within a two-and-a-half month period have brought creeks and rivers out of their beds, closed off roads, turned low-lying areas into ponds and lakes, and devastated low-lying crops and people's vegetable gardens. However, my lilies have been very happy this summer with all the rain. Their stalks have been loaded down with multiple branches of buds and blooms. My afore-mentioned ditch lilies bloomed so vigorously I was afraid they'd be gone before the 4th of July but they have lasted almost til August.

Red lilies (photos from 2013)
My red lilies with the yellow centers were fabulous this summer!  These I came by accidentally a few years ago when we got some dirt from a neighbor's excavation project to raise our garden bed. We lost a big old backyard shade tree last summer so the red lilies I planted in back of the house produced prolifically all July. Not only did they look good from the road but I also enjoyed seeing them right outside my bedroom and bathroom windows all day long.

I call these my silvery-red lilies (photo from 2006)
My silvery red lilies in the horse hitch plant bed have had the best year since I've planted them (they were the first lilies I planted when we moved here ten years ago). They are late bloomers, not opening til mid to late July, so they are still in full force. My horse hitch flower bed is usually very dry, so ordinarily these lilies don't produce too many blooms. This year I can't even pick any of them because I'd have to sacrifice too many blooms! ( When I pick lilies I always wait until there are one or two buds left on the stalk, or I salvage the ones the wind or the mower has knocked down.)

This summer Walmart had the little yellow Stella d'Oro lilies for sale and I bought several pots of these. With all the rain, they settled right in. The label said they would do well in sun or partial shade and they are actually sending up new stalks with lots of buds! (I always wondered how they managed to stay in bloom all summer!) My sweet peas have also been very happy this summer - in fact, most of my flowers have - except for the peony bed which has been half under water all summer. The weeds have taken that one!

But I can take comfort because even though my ditch lilies and red lilies have departed, I can look out my kitchen and bedroom windows at my beautiful cleomes and susans which are now in full bloom! And I just got my first big pink hibiscus flower this morning!
View out my bedroom window this year - Susans,
Sweet Peas, and Cleomes aka "Cat Whiskers"
Photo of my dinner-plate hibiscus blooms from 2012 - the year we had a record two-month drought (ain't Mother Nature a kick?)
And has anyone else noticed how absolutely gorgeous all the Rose of Sharon bushes are this year? Sunday, Ben and I took my ninety-year-old mother and my eighty-seven-year-old aunt to Parke County for the annual Alward-Davis Reunion. It's a lovely hour's drive, mostly through the country and I marveled at all the Rose of Sharons on the way. They just leaped out at me. I want one!
 I turned 65 this spring and shortly thereafter strained my knee doing yard work - so happy to be on Medicare! Now that the rains have finally slacked and the sun is showing his face more often, if I can just get my tolerance up for this heat and get my leg back in shape, I can get back into the swing of summer and do some desperately needed weeding. It seems so strange not to have the garden vegetables coming in to keep us fed and busy, I almost feel lost!


Ditch Lilies shooting through the air on long, slender stems, and exploding into orange and yellow petals are Nature's Fireworks."

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