One gardener's observations, discoveries and random thoughts whilst simultaneously worshipping and dallying in a Cape Cod garden. "A garden," said Ralph Waldo Emerson, "is like those pernicious machineries which catch a man's coatskirt or his hand, and draw in his arm, his leg and his whole body to irresistable destruction."

Previously on the Midnight Garden:  a new deck was built and a few modest plantings were put together to create a sort of garden in the air as June began to bust out all over.

Well, things started modestly, anyway, but as is often the case, the planting and the digging and the potting got a little out of hand, what with seedling exchanges and plant gifts and bargains discovered and seeds started.

A few marigolds and pansies and herbs turned into also a plum tomato and a couple of yellow squash and some bell peppers and a pot of cucumber vines and an eggplant and some Swiss chard and petunias and a tomatilla plant and a pair of jalapeno pepper plants and sweet potato vine and and zinnias (deep breath) and some nasturtiums  and mint and daturas and agastache and ginger and clover and morning glories and cardinal climber and a couple of grasses (for the Catsby’s nibbling pleasure) and I must admit, there’s a few pots of I’m-Not-Exactly-Sure-What growing, too.

And all that’s in addition to the hibiscus and the asparagus ferns and the pointsettia and the clementine orange treelet and the Arbor Day tree seedlings that arrived last October.

And then once all of those things were situated they started growing and space became even more of a premium as the plants began growing together.   I’m glad I thought to designate seat areas early on, though the peppers seem to thrive in the light they find on the bench each day.

Of course all those pots full of plants make great cover for a fierce (ish) jungle cat stalking his prey.   Bonus points if you can spot him skulking about.  The thing is, on the underside of the new deck was a nestful of baby robins, and my roommate loves to lay on the deck and give them the Mystifying Cat Eye through the space in the decking.

(In fact, we are currently hosting a second nest of baby robins under there, about to fledge this weekend, I estimate.   The  hot spring/summer has meant lots of bugs, which is translating into large juvenal bird populations this summer.)

If they even notice the Catdude, they just carry on chirping, hoping perhaps this strange looking bird up above has a mouth full of worms or bugs – an idea of much distaste to the Gray Catsby – and he so moves off to other pursuits, exploring his world.

The arrival of the Solstice saw us (well, me) getting a bird station established on one corner of the deck and that has brought us both a virtually endless supply of entertainment, in light of that bumper crop of birdies I mentioned before.

There’s two different bird baths I try to keep clean and fresh for all our visitors and they are pretty popular.   The very cool seed cylinder was a gift from our friends the Thompsons of Wild Birds Unlimited in South Yarmouth.  The first one was free, but the price is right for this blend of seeds for cardinals and many of the smaller birds, so we are happy to give them some business (and hope you will, too!)

I’m told the cylinder is designed for a particular feeder, but it comes with mesh bag, and that’s working quite well on its own.   I’ve tied a piece of twine around a thick stick and then threaded the twine up through the bag and the hollow center of the cylinder, tying off the top of the bag before attaching it to the shepherd’s crook.   We also offer berry and nut suet cakes most of the time.

Our regular visitors are a fairly large population of young chickadees, titmice (they don’t seem to be so tufted when they are youngins) woodpeckers and carolina wrens.   There’s a bluejay who visits now and then and a fairly regular young cardinal.  The robins don’t visit the feeders, but the Mama robin  (I’m unclear if it’s the same one who had the earlier nest, or if this is a second mama) was sort of agressive about chasing off some woodpeckers about the time the latest babies hatched.

And who can blame her?  There was a flock of crows lurking about then, too.

Anyway, just to keep the bird stress to a minimum, the Catsby only gets limited and well-supervised visits to the deck during the Nesting.   I trust him pretty well, but the Night Time Rooftop Incident curbed a little of my enthusiasm, too.  Don’t get me wrong.  It’s not that I don’t think he has Mad Kitteh Skillz, but he also has a history of rolling off the couch onto his head, so color me skeptical.

Still, I’m sure the breeze up there was a delightful respite from the heat.  And it took only the slightest shake of the kitty treat package to get him back inside, anyhow.

Of course, that was way back at mid-summer, when we still viewed the heat and humidity as a seasonal affectation.  Now it seems to be a trend for the summer (although there have been some lovely cooler evenings as well – last week was delightful!) and I’ll confess the drought has taken its toll on the gardening.

We try to find the right balance of watering and not watering with the little bit of rain we’ve seen, so as not to be wasteful.  I try to be as efficient as I can in watering the deck pottings and have installed a few reservoirs in the veggie pots to make sure they are properly watered.   But conservation has meant less watering of the gardens  in the ground, which have been mostly fending for themselves.  Everything has still bloomed, but in some cases not for very long and some things have quickly grown frazzled.

This daisy, however, is meant to look this way.   I’ve misplaced my memory of this particular daisy variety’s name, but that’s partly because we decided that she is the Janis Joplin of daisies, anyway.   This plant is a new addition this season and only gave us a couple of blooms, but they do grow pretty rapidly hereabouts, so I expect we’ll see some lovely performances from this flower in years to come.

Every summer I’ve ever lived has gone pretty quickly.   Even my least favorite one went pretty rapidly.   Every year they seem to flee a bit faster and this year’s been no exception, though I’m happy to say it’s also been a delightful season of fun outside the garden, too.

There’ve been a few memorable visits to Provincetown this year, always a treat for me.   First there was the Provincetown International Film Festival back in mid June.   I was only able to see one of this year’s films, Howl, but what a great choice. I thought it a wonderful docu-drama about Allen Ginsberg’s famous/infamous poem which was as remarkable and entertaining as the poem itself.   When it sees a wider release in September, I truly hope you’ll have an opportunity to see it.   I hope I’ll get to see it again myself.

Another weekend found me rendezvousing with Maura for the Portuguese Festival and Parade on Commercial Street.   We also explored shops and galleries and gardens and culinary treats and such, as the season geared up toward its usual summertime fever pitch.

The Tenth Annual Bear Week saw the opening of a variety of gallery shows, including the steamy work of Michael Breyette, further enhanced by steamy weather.   That same night I tried to attend a benefit for WOMR Outermost Radio, but the Provincetown Fire Department got there first, so that was not meant to be.

And there’s more to say about PTown of late, as I spent a lot of time there last week, but you’ll have to wait a little longer for all that.   But I will tell you that Provincetown’s Pilgrim Monument is 100 years old this month and was rededicated in a big ceremony with fireworks this evening, which I did not attend.  I bet it was fun, but oy, the crowds.

Whenever I see pretty hydrangeas, I try to snap some good shots of them, since I have a few friends and regular blog readers who are especially fans of them.   Because of the hot and dry weather, their beauty is a little more fleeting this year and I happened to catch these pink ones at their perfect moment.   As I took the picture, I was thinking of my blog pal Java, as she is one of those fans.

We’ve known one another thru the Interwebs (and mutual friends both real and fictional) for over two years now, but hadn’t ever had the pleasure of more than emails and blog comments back and forth.  Until late July, when suddenly I got word that Java was setting out on a roadtrip to explore the Northeast and Cape Cod was on the radar or the mapquest or something.   (I can’t really say “plan” because the lack of such a thing was a bone of some contention with J’s traveling partner Cory.   You can visit Java’s blog for all the roadtrip details, of course!)

And so it was on a hot July Saturday that we rendezvoused at the Nest for this first meeting of old friends and what a fun day we had.   There were hugs and cool beverages and cat admirings and travel discussions and brunch and some touring and then more talking.   I’m sure some of your ears were tingling a little;  we talked a lot.  About many of you.  But fear not, we were kind.

We were concerned about anything but photography, though and we almost missed a chance to get a picture together.  We certainly weren’t concerned with the quality of the light or anything like that, which might explain why the color was so washed out that a black and white version was best (Bummer, too, as I was wearing my fabulous new tie dye.).   But I’m happy for this souvenir of a lovely afternoon with a lovely friend.

Smooches, Java!

“Oh, bring again my heart’s content,

Thou Spirit of the Summer-time!”

William Allingham


Comments on: "Spirit of the Summertime" (8)

  1. Always a pleasure to read your blog.
    Check out our latest blogpost
    about the Pilgrim Monument.

  2. I thought that orange bloom was a hibiscus until I ran the cursor over it. “Orange Nasty?” Really? Anyway, just how far north can a hibiscus grow? I always thought they were tropical plants.

    “Orange nasty” was just my nickname for such a pretty nasturtium.

    My hibiscus is small enough that its a potted plant, which comes indoors in the winter…but I have seen them live outdoors in protected spots in some yards in PTown. Gotta love Coastal Zone 7!!

  3. Just a quick drive-by, but wanted to say the garden looks/sounds wonderful, and to reinterate how glad I am that you and Java got to meet. And I’d forgotten about her sexy new haircut! In less than a week I’ll be in Indiana, admiring the gardens at Hazelthorne, can’t wait!

  4. I’ve just found your blog. Your photos are lovely, and your prose a pleasure to read. I too am on Southcoast Mass., but about 70 miles west of you. Here we are Zone 6, and it always seems to me that the difference between those two zones is eons! There are so many beautiful perennials that are hardy to zone 7, that I have tried here and failed to keep them alive, despite a few little micro-climate areas that sometimes might work for one milder winter.
    Nice… I’ll be back again.

  5. I’m impressed. You have more plants blooming than I have on my suburban lot! With this cool summer it’s felt like I was the one living in Zone 7. But summer’s finally hit both coasts…

  6. You’re SO right Greg, summers DO seem to go faster and faster!!! Thanks for the “glance over the shoulder” on this one!!!!

  7. How lovely it would be if this sort of summer could last for always…

  8. Oh, and big ol’ smooches back atcha’! I’ve been so tied up with drama and educational pursuits that I’ve not been able to catch up with my best blog buddies. I miss you, too! Badum is looking quite fetching. L.O.V.E. the Compare and Contrast post of 12 Sept. :)

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