August is here, but garden season perseveres

We are now deep into the growing season and the vegetable harvest is well underway. All of the Romanesque cauliflower is in the freezer and the broccoli (Packman and Arcadia) continues to throw side shoots. The slugs are shy this season, possibly waiting for serious rain to start, so the lettuce is still in good supply.

But you know all of this. What you don’t know is what an amazing amount of fun I had this past week with four fellow gardeners. Beth organized us, going so far as to make us lunch, and we went from garden to garden and reveled in a good long look and informed visit at each one.

We started with Francie and were duly impressed with her raised beds for the vegetables. Four foot square and made from Trex the material used for decks, the vegetables were thriving. The perennial beds were interesting and well tended.

Next was mine. You’ve heard enough about mine so we’ll move on to Beth’s. There we saw plants that are not so common and used with imagination. Lovely. Her pond is a haven for birds and even two bull moose who stop by for a drink now and then.

On to Shirley’s. This is a very well established garden known to many of us. Here is where Shirley will stuff a bag full of the perennials of your choosing, charge us next to nothing, and send us on our way. This is where the magnolia bloomed last year (a growing season not to be forgotten).

Then we arrived at Jeanne’s, road construction be damned. She has been supplying the Wagon Wheel with starts seemingly forever. This is where it all begins. The greenhouse for her personal use is stuffed with tomatoes, peppers, cantaloupe, simply all things delicious. Her rock garden, well I could rhapsodize on the variety of plants, even the rocks themselves, needless to say it certainly is lovely. And then she made us dessert.

What these five gardens have in common are gardeners who love them. Who are willing and able to put in the time and effort.

The point here is that you could be doing this too. Just you and a couple of friends. No need to dazzle. No need to apologize for the errant weed or misplaced perennial. Set aside a few hours and go for a visit. Really look at what your friends are doing. You’ll come away with an appreciation for someone else’s taste. No two gardens are alike. Nor are their gardeners. Honor the difference. Learn from each other.

I would like to do this every week, starting in the spring with glorious bulbs in bloom covered with honey bees from the neighborhood hives. Move on to the wild iris and marsh marigolds that share a marshy site. About the same time are the lilacs. A bit of a wait and here comes the mock orange (three of them) and delphiniums. Roses, roses, everywhere. The rest of the perennials are coming into their own and the annuals are filling in the blanks. Bringing up the rear of the season is the hydrangea, that is if she decides to bloom, and Dropmore honeysuckle vine on the west wall.

It may be early August but the native plants in the meadow in front of us are going down fast. Here in the garden I’m deadheading as fast as I can. The columbine are gone, but that makes room for the asiatic lilies. Remove your spent blooms and see what’s hiding behind/underneath them, you may be surprised by a little something that you tucked in and have forgotten.

I made a mistake this season and planted California poppies “Jersey Cream” into the east garden. Not enough sun. I don’t like to watch a plant suffer so I pulled them out yesterday. This may seem extreme but my eye would go to them each and every time I walked past them. The poppies that are in front are thriving and making the weak ones seem even more so. Out they came. If you have something that is failing, let it go, the season is too short.

There is much left to the gardening season.

NOTE: Lois Schneyer, the founder of the Homer Garden Club, will be at Bishop’s Beach at noon Aug. 14. Come say hello and find out if she’s still avid about begonias. Kabobs and salad will be provided. Bring a dessert or side dish to share.

Rosemary Fitzpatrick is a longtime Homer gardener. She has been writing Kachemak Gardener since 1990.