In July and August, my summer garden waits for fall. We are in that in-between stage in the vegetable and perennial gardens. Phlox paniculata is starting to flower, and the daylily magic is over for the year. Asters and goldenrod are still growing for their late August performance.
I’m seeing very few butterflies this summer. I did find some Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillars on my dill, but otherwise, I’ve only seen a few American Lady adults on lavender. Other pollinators are in abundance especially the carpenter bees. I have plenty of flowers for pollinators. I have water available. I grow plenty of host plants too. Still, no butterflies. It makes me a bit sad, but at least the Clearwing moths are out enjoying the phlox in the morning and evenings.
You don’t need a rural garden to attract butterflies and moths. The other day, I was going into a store, and I saw a beautiful, large pink and brown moth on the door. No, I didn’t think to take a photo, but many Oklahoma moths are beautiful creatures. It was right in between the doors and would’ve been smashed. I scooped it up and placed it on some blackeyed Susans in the hell strip of the parking lot. Once upon a time, that hell strip would have just been Bermuda grass, but more and more I’m seeing these planted with ornamental grasses and native and non-native flowers.
This makes me glad.
Because I’ve gardened here for 32 years, I know to wait and see if any more butterflies will make their way here. I have loads of milkweed including Asclepias incarnata, pink swamp milkweed. I’m seeing a lot of aphids, and then a couple of lady beetles having a good time, but no Monarch caterpillars yet.
Maybe more butterflies, hoverflies, and bees will show up before September. One persistent refrain I’ve read in your emails is a wish for something to happen. Coronavirus has made all of us impatient. It is like a relative who has long overstayed his or her welcome if he or she were ever welcome at all, which it decidedly is not.
To new gardeners, all I can write is slow down and wait. Gardening is the ultimate slow craft movement. There are many times when the garden just seems to sit and bask in the sunshine, but beneath the surface of the soil, things are still happening. That’s why I always tell you to keep your garden watered and go outside each day looking for small changes. July air, especially this year, hangs heavy. Because of all the rain, it is hot and humid. As I write this, the sky is again covered in clouds. So far, in July, we’ve received over six inches of rain, which is almost unheard of. The storms last weekend dropped more rain, and I’m grateful.
When the spigot again turns off, I will water with drip irrigation and soaker hoses. It’s the most efficient way to water here.
However, a few perennials and annuals are showing off in the gardens that face the street. I’m grateful for them. I need color in the garden during the growing season. It makes me happy. I usually go out in the evening just before closing time and take everything in. Still, some flowers only strut their stuff in the morning. Like my husband, they are morning people. I wish I were too.
Zinnias are all-day flowers. They stay pretty happy which makes me happy. I try to go out and deadhead them a couple of times a week.
Last week, I wrote about the meadow. It looks really good, and the Johnsongrass is starting to retreat a little. I noticed I have Johnsongrass in one of the beds that faces the street. It and Bermuda are a constant fight in the garden here especially as I’ve grown older.
My crapemyrtles are looking especially grand, and I’m grateful for their bright flowers against July’s blue skies. Honey bees also like the blooms. I have several different varieties of Lagerstroemia indica, including Dynamite®, Dazzle Me Pink, ‘Pink Velour,’ ‘ Tightwad Red,’ and Rhapsody in Pink®. Here is an article I wrote about crapemyrtles a few years ago. Note that crapemyrtle bark scale wasn’t a problem then. The scale still isn’t as much of a problem in Guthrie as it is in Oklahoma City.
Sometimes, it’s great to live out in the country.
Summer is a time of waiting, but here are more plants that thrive in Oklahoma summers. I hope you and your families are thriving this summer too. Hang in there. In the future, this very hard summer of social distancing and mask-wearing will be only a distant memory. I just hope it’s soon.