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Gardening with Cats Summer Heat

Double Dipped, Gardens at Effingham

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Falling Leaves Spring Beauty Summer Heat Winter Dreams

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Falling Leaves Spring Beauty Summer Heat Winter Dreams

Garden Design (gardendesignmag) – Profile | Pinterest

Garden Design | Your online resource for #plants and #gardendesign ideas. Get our newsletter, learn about #gardening, and enjoy our webinars with experts at gardendesign.com
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Gardening with Cats Summer Heat Uncategorized

When Peaches Meow: Musings with “Most Beloved”

The Orchard Years

I look up and above to the picture Mom gifted me of my 11-year-old self, hand across the back of our Labrador Retriever’s shoulder, and Dusty (our rescued groundhog) pulling at his jaw. I was sitting, plaintive smile, faraway look in my eyes even then, blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail, choppy bangs, knees tucked both under and sideways, on the top of the hill of our orchard.  

And I fall back, am called back, where 88 acres of orchard defined all the summers of my childhood and young adolescence. Rich Haven and Hale Haven peaches—Alberta Cling peaches, peaches by the peck and by the pound, peaches in half-bushel baskets, Montmorency sour-pie cherries, Sweet Cherries, Bartlett Pears, Concord Grapes, Jonathan, Melrose, Red and Golden Delicious apples. Nectarines, Black Raspberries. My mind drifts. My tongue remembers.

Peach fuzz from picking sticky on my hands and arms, peaches bigger than my fists could hold, sweet, ripe peach juice dripping down my chin. The ’54 Ford tractor with the wagon hooked up, flatbed, empty crates out into the orchard and full crates of peaches coming back on that slow, bumpy ride from bush-hog rough-cut orchard grass clear up to the packing shed. 

Dad driving the tractor, his lopsided smile beaming, my sister and I riding on each of the tractor-well wheels, our black lab up on the wagon along with all those crates of peaches that we had picked in the heat of late July and early August sun. The kind of heat that sinks into you in this part of southeastern Ohio. Humid heat. Overhead, brilliant noonday-sun heat. Heat that makes you thirsty—before-anything-else heat. 

Grandpa bought that land, 100 acres at the top of Malta Hill, to start an orchard. After WWII. Money from his G.I. Bill. Planted an orchard 4 miles straight up that hill to get all those fruit trees close to the heat of the full Ohio sun. And far enough away from the Muskingum River valley where trees, townspeople, and a stronger chance of a killing frost could wipe out a full crop of peaches.

Memories of so far away and long ago, wispy—as if, almost, they didn’t happen in this lifetime, in my lifetime. And yet still the peaches cling, the orchard clings, a love for planting and growing. A heart for all things earth, sky, trees, plants, flowers, animals, that way of life from so long ago, my love still. 

And so on this late August day, I am still who I always was. Perhaps a riper version of self, but still, at my core, that 11-year-old girl sitting atop that hill of our orchard. A bowl of white peaches today centers my table (though these peaches came from California).

White Peaches

And the box they came in? That box belongs to Most Beloved who relishes sitting in (and looking out from) a box clearly labeled “Peaches.”

Most Beloved, When Peaches Meow
California White Peaches “I. M. Ripe
Most Beloved, When Peaches Meow
The Orchard Years: Dusty, our groundhog, tugging at our Labrador Retriever’s jaw
The Orchard Years, Dusty, our pet groundhog

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Summer Heat

Three Ways To Know When Summer Ends and Fall Begins (According to the Cat)

Most Beloved

#1. The cat is subsumed by melancholy

“Oh yet to relish, to sleep, to bathe in the heat of the midday sun–”

–sighs the cat

Oh yet to languish, to sip, to savor a cup of catmint tea–”

–bemoans the cat

Listen for verbal sighs and dramatic monologues. See especially planned pauses. Watch for wistful longing and waxing poetic. Smile and nod as you listen to your cat’s woes.

Nasturtium

Act 1, Scene 1: Bay Window in the Breakfast Room.

Most Beloved upon seeing a shadow and in her most dramatic voice:

“In the middle of a mid-summer’s heat, late July or early August or perhaps middle August or maybe just summer’s end, without significant rainfall—almost enough to feel the standard repertoire of feelings common this time of year. June has bloomed, the massive undertaking of mulching and weeding, planting and wanting to be outside in 75 degree-weather has faded, and a certain weariness sets in. All-out efforts, even down to the hiring of help in the gardens, have not delayed the setting in of what always seems too short a bloom season.

One month in full summer bloom, June through July, then the sudden drying up where not only flowers fade, but moods do too. A bittersweet longing for what can only ever be temporal, an ache for beauty and warmth year round, and the reality that late summer brings the heaviness of high humidity, temperatures too hot to be comfortable outside, and the dip of disappointment that no matter how fierce our efforts, no matter how much our devotion, colors fade, the blooming ends, and the browning decay of this too soon mid-summer still come.”

Most Beloved sighs to take a paws (or “pause” in lay terms)

Serviceberry (Serviceberry Trees lose their leaves earlier than nearly all other deciduous trees in our area)

#2. The cat sees what she wants to see

Resurrection Lilies

Resurrection lilies revel us in their sudden vertical growth and striking pink blooms, a shade far more common in the spring here than during the mid-late summer months.

But where is my Beloved Catmint?

Where has my catmint gone?

Herbs, in full bloom, spill over the sides of their pots.

Chocolate Mint, German Chamomile, Greek Oregano, and Sun Hostas

Daylilies, also in full bloom, burst in a sundry colors.

Daylilies
Daylilies
And aquatic life–lily pads, canna lilies at water’s edge, resurrection lily preparing to bloom, koi beneath the lily pads–still define the periphery of summer in our gardens.
Resurrection lilies preparing to open, koi pond, lily pads, canna lilies

#3. The cat forgets how beautiful Fall can be

And so yes, Most Beloved, the leaves are beginning to drop–the 100-year-old Silver Maple is shedding some leaves; a few Elm tree leaves are sifting down; and the dwarf-mounding chokeberries have traded their green summer attire for crimson leaves and purple berries.

Look up at skies laced with love, and glance around to see flowers yet to bloom. Fall ushers in cooler nights and gentler days, though dearest one and forever Most Beloved, the temperature today is nearly 90 degrees.

Gardens at Effingham

And perhaps most importantly, Most Beloved?

Sunshine, glorious and warm, still radiates from the bluest of skies, willow-wisp clouds still drift carefree, and our many trees and shrubs still lift up their arms with joy.

Most Beloved

Gardens at Effingham

I am Most Beloved, she who looks after all of us here at Gardens at Effingham. I have always enjoyed a cup of catmint tea, the company of good friends, and stories that delight and visit me regularly from my garden journals and notebooks. I invite you to join us for a good cup of tea and stories from the sketchbooks, notes, and heart of Gardens at Effingham.

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Summer Heat

Ode to Joy of Being a Cat

Coneflowers (echinacea) in the Sun Garden

Allegretto vivo

Scherzo. Forte. Crescendo without denouement. Succession of notes, days metered in the click-click of 4/4, key of A (for August heat), unstable and trilling, repetition the same and in measured heat, 90 degrees plus and even when not, humidity to sear the presto. 

And then there’s moi. Ode to the joy of lounging here. Finishing a power nap and contemplating another. Stretching—stretching,  sauntering off to nibble kibble, lap a bit of water, then curl up to watch the world through the grande windows of the music room. 

Or at least my world here at Gardens at Effingham. The roses are in bloom again (I am partial to the hot cocoa tea rose hybrids and the Mr. Lincoln 7-foot tall deep red tea hybrid), butterflies flit by (I like the Tiger Butterflies), and Strat Cat has passed by at least thrice now—twice while strolling about the grounds and once, just to sit and stare in the window at me. He seems utterly captivated. Perhaps it’s my pink nose? The way I swish my tail? Maybe he can smell the salmon I had midday? 

Perhaps he thinks I conduct the orchestration of all that we (ahem, they) do here. Since this morning a cacophony of metal and grinding, a hodgepodge of coming and going, and a collective disarray of sights, smells, and sounds. Andante and Allegro. I think I made them go away however, as all is quiet now and the truck, machines, and general disorderliness and discord has dissipated. 

Resurrection Lilies sing songs of hope, chanting in time sweet scents divine.

And so Bravo and all that jazz. I am she who is Most Beloved, and from inside the music room, I gaze outward on a world that is all my charge. These gardens and the cats they keep. The masons here to repair our brick walls. The butterflies and hummingbirds, the song birds and the bluejays, the cardinals and the robins, the squirrels, chipmunks, even the koi in the pond. 

All is a tempo. Save for rain. We could use rain. (Am I in charge of rain?)

Ever respectfully yours,

Most Beloved

Hiding behind the Petals
Gardens at Effingham