September Frolic in a Southern Garden

It’s playtime in our garden in September. Happy recess between hot and cold seasons. Plants are putting a finish on blooms and berries.

A spectacular year for a pyracantha that has struggled for about 20 years

Bees and butterflies follow the sun, attend progressive end-of-the-season nectar parties. Birds buzz, chirp, chip, while they scour the duff down below or commandeer berries from above.

Bees love Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia syphilitica) sister to Cardinal flower

The livin’ is easy, a time for fattening beneath a kindly sun: Gather your necessaries, but play a little, too.

Silver spotted skipper is not the only butterfly that frequents lantana ‘Miss Huff’

In the early days of spring, a long time back now, plants were in a frantic hurry-rush-hurry. Make an entrance, stand tall, strut your stuff, look beautiful, bask in oohs and aahs. Seize the day. Be a star.

Surprise lilies, Lycors radiata, are a fall bloomer but their strappy foliage pops up in spring to fill bare beds before a gardener can grab a shovel

Brush off insects, hide from rabbits, shrink from deer. Minor annoyances, these last, as the vaudeville act goes on. Life in spring is one glorious fast track.

Even this young box turtle is in a hurry!

Come summer, enthusiasm dribbles. The marvelous spring show is gone. Bugs invade. Heat and humidity smother. Fawns and rabbits seem ravenous. Plants in tatters, or prostrate, or weeding in like bullies, this was not supposed to happen.

Canyon Creek abelia manages to keep its cool in summer, though it really shines in fall

Now it’s not look at me, but leave me alone so I can droop and snooze. A drink of water is the highlight on droughty days. Let those warm-weather, molly-coddled, johnny-come-lately annuals do their stand-up routines and bask in oohs and aahs.

A closer look at Canyon Creek abelia, bees and butterflies methodically forage the white flowers surrounded by bright pink sepals

And what of the gardener? Rush-hurry-rush to clean up in spring. A chivalrous white knight in the garden makes sure star charges are displayed to perfection, basks in reflected glory. Doesn’t it look wonderful! And boy o boy, this is the best spring ever!

We don’t see the Palomedes Swallowtails (this one tired, missing its “tails”) until  summer and fall but larvae are just as busy as a gardener in spring, munching on our swamp red bay

Until bugs, heat, and humidity brandish their blades. Chivalry takes a back seat. The all-conquering white knight becomes a wimpy white potato reading magazines on a couch. The partially (only partially) guilt-ridden, fair-weather gardener says, Nature Must Take its Course Without Me.

Do ya’ think you could pay a little attention to us?

Maybe if I don’t look. . .Rainy days doubly bless the gardener: Less hose-work and legal, guilt-free couch days. There should be more of them.

Cooler weather, a little rain, happier now

Come play time in September, the gardener smiles along with the plants. Time to catch up and pick up and cut down and prune off in an ambling sort of way. Time to enjoy the garden without being a white knight.

The last of the ginger lily still has a sweet smell but is fast giving way to the heady scent of osmanthus fragrans

Time to savor rogue fragrances, delicate, carried by scant breezes that would barely register on any  man-made scale. Time to take pictures of a bright landscape under a bright afternoon sun before it all fades away.

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