I ask this question every year. Don’t you? You’d think after so many years of gardening, the answer would be empirical, at least to an extent. But it’s far from empirical. Where did the growing season go?
Sure I’m wistful, wanting badly to relive the evening of July 7 when my ‘Peppermint Twist’ phlox roared in full bloom. Or July 10 when that lusty orienpet lily called ‘Shocking’ ruined normalcy in my backyard with its startling, to say the least, flowers. In contrast, I could go all the way back to June 14, the day after I got home from the Ozarks and recall the sparkling, pristine racemes of foxglove penstemon (Penstemon digitalis).
I recall more recently the sunset-lit heads of my Northern sea oats (Chasmanthium latifolium), an assured sign of closure in my Midwestern garden. Maybe then, or earlier, I started to take the hint. Gardens have a way of signalling change, passing days on the calendar with floral bounty and ripening fruits. As a timepiece they remind us of the rhythm of the seasons, keeping us in time with a natural clock that has ticked for longer than we can know.
Leaves fall, the ground freezes, and life retreats to chambers. But the passion for gardening lacks such a good, steady watch and a place to persist when conditions don’t permit flourish. Though for many of us in the temperate north where the act of gardening begins to subside, the passion springs eternal through snowflakes and cold. Where has the growing season gone? No where too permanent at all.