Ahhhhhhhh ... 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.
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.
In 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.
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.
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