Grit Blogs > Domestic Episodes of a Rodeo Princess

The Blue Sky Farm Summer Bouquet

A photo of Shirley Rodeo VanScoykAhhhhhhhh ... summer!

I've been pushing it this year since April, which makes me feel guilty, because I completely devalued spring.  In my defense, spring was a hurried affair this year, barely here for two weeks after the last cold rains of winter dissolved the remnants of the blizzards, grey and dreary in the pasture, and a heat wave arrived tempting us to wear white before Memorial Day and break out our Lawn MuMus.  Lawn MuMus are big baggy brightly colored dresses that we wear in Honey Brook when we go commando and wander around weeding or staring at livestock.  If bears emerging from hibernation wore clothes, this is what they would choose.

But now, joining the Barn Swallows and the Lightning Bugs, it's no longer ME deciding that Summer has arrived.  There is a bouquet on the table that announces it with the exuberance of debutantes arriving back to the Sorority House.

Summer bouquet close-up

Blue Hydrangeas and Orange Daylilies, or Mophead and Fulva, as we call them here.

Everyone who reads this is a better gardener than I. We don't even have to have a score card. It's not even going to be a contest. I concede. I grew up in a family where all aggression, competition and judgment is channeled into gardening. I gave up long ago in the race to drop Latin Names for species and have the first tomato of the season. I don't even CARE about heirloom seeds and grafting.  I am much better with things that follow me and beg to be fed than I am with things that soundlessly wither and die without water.  That leads me to Mophead and Fulva which you can't apparently neglect to death.

Summer bouquetIn addition to their ability to live through my inattention, they fill up vast amounts of space in the garden if you let them, so you don't have to plant anything else. When they are not blooming with mania, they are green and verdant enough to fill visual expectations of 'landscaping.' They can also withstand assaults by bulldozers and careless roofers:  the hydrangeas and daylillies survived our three year construction phase and will provide the foundation for new gardens we will put in, someday. Also, for some reason, the chickens don't eat them or destroy them.

Summer flowers

You can do a lot with hydrangeas if you really want to. You can change their color by changing the PH of the soil, you can get hundreds of different varieties from GI-normous to petite. I justlove my big blue blooms. Once a guy stopped and asked if he could buy some of mine for his wedding!!! I try to pull the wild grape vines out of mine once a year.  It's the least (yes, actually it is) I can do for them.

There are lots of people who spend their time hybridizing daylilies. In the Eureka Daylily guide, you will find a Daphne Dore Daylily. For her 80th birthday, I found a hybridizer who would name one of his plants for my Mom. In my part of Pennsylvania, the orange variety (Fulva) bloom almost all summer along our roads. In the breeze, they  wildly wave to tourists and residents alike, always happy to see you.

I prefer barn swallows to bluebirds and daylilies to dainty roses: the utility, predictability and toughness of my favorites is what endears them to me. I kind of hope that these qualities endear me to my loved ones, too.

mountain woman
8/18/2010 2:01:52 PM

Rodeo, I'm the same with gardening and I too enjoy the thrill of wild flowers to the tameness of the garden bed. As to summer, it's almost over here but it has been a great one certainly. I know the days are growing so short already. What a great gift you gave to your Mom! I know she must have been thrilled. Always enjoy your posts.


s.m.r. saia
8/17/2010 6:51:36 AM

Ah, Rodeo, you're speaking my language on plants! I don't think anyone that knows me would call me lazy, but like you I just don't want to fuss with them, so I like to plants things that just do thier thing largely without me. Hence my love of planting sweet potatoes, turnips, marigolds, and various other "tough" things! My new favorite this year is the blackberry bushes I planted this spring, which immediately began to grow like weeds. I love anything useful that grows like a weed. Your flowers are beautiful! Enjoy them while you can!


cindy murphy
8/10/2010 7:15:56 AM

Hi, Shirley. Beautiful bouquet. Here, the mopheads are fussy, and a gardener that can get them to bloom with any consistency pats themselves on the back - the plants are hardy, but exposure to winter winds, or a late freeze means no blossoms, only big green leaves. The ditch lilies we have in abundance; they are the first of the daylilies to bloom, and are generally done before most daylily varieties produce their first flower. My tough-as-nails, indestructable favorites for a late summer bouquet are PG hydrangeas (the whites), and goldenrod. Ya gotta love something that thrives and keeps going despite whatever gets thrown at it - flowers or people; its a great quality in either.


nebraska dave
8/7/2010 4:10:48 PM

@Rodeo, Summer has hit with vengeance here in Nebraska. With temperatures in the 90s and equally high humidity, the heat index is above 100 every day. I used to be the black thumb gardener, but with a little help from my friends here on Grit and a big help from automated watering technology, I’ve become the wonder of the neighborhood. I used to be able to bring the Black Death upon any plant within days, but now even I wonder if there hasn’t been a secret garden fairy taking care of my flowers and garden when I’m not looking. There have been cucumbers, tomatoes, and bell peppers, Oh, my. I’ve discovered that the secret to great looking plants is the consistency in watering. That’s why I depend on technology to take care it for me. I just love technology, but I don’t trust it as far as I can throw it. When you just begin to trust it and you least expect it, it will let you down down down, but I still love it anyway. I’m ready for my second best season which would be fall. Cooler temperatures and less bugs make for more pleasant experiences outside. Activities in the fall with Smores, bonfires, hay rack rides, and hot apple cider are what I look forward to. Have a great summer day and remember that it’s only 45 days until Fall.