Summer’s last Hurrah!
by The Cheerful Gardener
Unlike other seasons, we give Summer’s last moments a last ‘Hurrah’ and a wave goodbye to an old friend. Yet Summer is not yet through. Yes, many nights will soon have a chill and more days will have rain and nippy temperatures, but there will be days filled with summer afterglow and nights that are filled with stars.
With the Summer gently releasing its grandeur to a new and beautiful season of Autumn, with its own glory of coloured leaves and persistent happy flowers that live on despite chillier nights and shorter days, I take a daily morning walk through the gardens to enjoy the bird sounds (which shifts, as well, from morning and evening Robin songs to blue jays, nuthatches, and crows, of course) and to observe the perennials that cheerfully carry on. It was wonderful to see two chickadee families feed their young this Summer and to see a baby Cardinal with young feathers at the bird feeder. Do you care to take your cup of tea or coffee and join me for a stroll?
We are fortunate to come across the beautiful Rudbeckia trilobum, which is prolific this year, standing tall to reach the sun, and the shorter variety sprawling here and there. As we walk on from there, we find blue balloon flowers, and Helen’s flower. The Arbour garden, with its flagstone path, has very much died back, with only pink Phlox and purple Morning Glories climbing over the trellis and honeysuckle bush.
Turning into the Circle of Friends Garden, the fragrant Southernwood from the Artemisia family, stands tall, and its feathery foliage bends with the late summer breezes. The Hydrangea has turned from white to pink, and the remaining Brown-Eyed Susan that surrounds the gazebo lives on. I stroll over by the sun shelter, in which, this year, we especially have found refuge and peace, while enjoying the scents and sights of Sea Lavender, Gaillardia, Portulaca, Peppermint Scented Geranium, and a lovely pink perennial named Turtlehead, which the bees adore.
We turn the corner (still with me?) and come to Claudia’s Scented Garden, a 6×8 Polycarbonate green-house, a gift given to me by my hubby to celebrate our 45th Anniversary, and for which shelves are being built and stepping stones laid to house deliciously scented herbs, including Scented Rose and Peppermint Pelargoniums, Rosemary, Santolina, Lavender, Apple mint, Old-fashioned Heliotrope, and, my favourite, Lemon Verbena, just to name a few. Oh yes, a cosy garden chair is ready for reading and relaxation! As they say, this is seventh heaven for me, as, for anyone who knows my journey as a Certified Aromatherapy Health Therapist, my passion is for flowery, woody, and a miscellany of herbal scents. The stroll ends at the side garden at the entrance way, where white Datura, Garlic chives, Nicotiana, and Rose mallow sit amongst a garden totem, a gift given by a friend, and where a host of bright orange Calendula flowers linger and thrive, offering colour and whimsy. Thank you for joining me on my garden stroll!
Herbaceous Calendula, often known as Marigolds and of the Daisy family, is a great way to preserve summer’s last burst of colour. Known for its healing qualities, like so many other herbs, as well as its beauty, it can be used for lip balms, creams, and lotion. It is an anti-viral and helpful for skin conditions.
To hold the remembrance of warm summer days, and to enjoy the benefits of a healing salve, in mid-July fill a glass jar two thirds of the way full with organic calendula flowers, covering the blossoms with organic olive oil, allowing it to sit on a sunny windowsill for 5 or 6 weeks, draining it through cheesecloth and giving it a shake. One would then pour this infused oil of Calendula into glass bottles and allow to cool in a dark place. I would then combine this oil with beeswax in a double boiler, stir over low heat until the beeswax is melted, and then, perhaps, I would add a few drops of Lavender essential oil, being careful to pour this liquid mixture into clean, small dry metal tins (my preference), perhaps topped with dried calendula blossoms or dried lavender flowers. Next, I would allow to set, and the salve is ready to use, a lovely gift from your garden for someone special.
“With all these lovely tokens of September days are here, with summer’s best of weather and the autumn’s best of cheer.” Helen Hunt Jackson.