Summer solstice to-do list

Summer tree - one of the red maples on the great lawnIt’s so convenient that our busiest days of the year are also the longest! There’s so much fun stuff to do in – and out of – our gardens. Tomorrow is the very longest day of the year. What are you going to do?

Number 1 on my list is to get up early – might as well make the most of it, right? You know by now that I prefer early light for pictures of my walk around the gardens – by mid morning this time of year, the sunlight is already bleachy and squint inducing. If only I had sunglasses for my camera too…

It’s also evidently a perfect time to do a little yoga in the great outdoors. Everyone who took this class looked fresh and lively as they were leaving. I heard one yogi say, “That was a great way to start the day!” (This was the first of a six week class in the North Garden: Thursdays from 8 – 9am. Click here for info!)

Yoga in the North Garden - taught by Christine Reed

There are plenty of garden chores to go around – keep planting if you haven’t finished. We set a deadline of July 4th for finishing our major planting projects. We’re in pretty good shape this year and are almost done already! (I still have a lot to plant at home though…)

Cut back your autumn bloomers (like asters, montauk daisies and chrysanthemums) now if you want them to be full, bushy and a little less floppish come fall. They’ll start to set buds in early July so that’s another task with a July 4th-ish deadline. We cut ours back by half or at least a third.

Check out and be impressed by how enormous your plants are already. The teasel (Dipsacus) and the cardoons (Cynara cardunculus) – both biennials – are budded up and nearly as tall as me (not that I’m a giant – but that’s pretty tall for this early in the season!)

Cardoon with my shadow for scale!Teasel buds - at eye level!

Stop and smell the roses and while you’re at it, you might as well deadhead them. The Rose Garden was thickly perfumed today and full of spent blooms. Good thing it’s a long day – Lilah and Ellie worked on these roses (un-named — anyone recognize it??) for hours!

Deadheading up closeLilah and Ellie working on the tedious monster roses

Keep your eyes out for wildlife – the baby katydids are out and about. Have you seen a baby praying mantis yet? Look for problem children too. I spotted spots on our Tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica) but have been unable to identify it. (Looks like a bad case of acne to me.)

wee baby katydidIs it some kind of gall?

There’s probably still time in the day to do a little weeding and perhaps after that you might go for a sail… Or at least sit back and think about how nice it would be to have a sunset tour on a boat like the one moored beyond the blooming tamarix…

Tamarix ramosissima blooming for the second time already

The most important thing to do on these longest days is enjoy the heck out of them dawn to dusk! And have a very happy solstice. (Some say it’s the start of summer but I’m pretty sure it marks the start of winter’s shortening days. I know that sounds pessimistic now, but come winter solstice – my official start of summer – you’ll see I’m an optimist all over again!)


4 thoughts on “Summer solstice to-do list

  1. Ha! Enjoy that longest day, Kris. Here in broiling hot Austin, I celebrate the summer solstice as being the beginning of the end of the gardener’s most difficult season. 🙂 Come on, fall!

    Keep cool, Pam! We’re enjoying mild and crisp summer days right now – I’ll try to send some sea breezes your way. -kris

  2. looks like it could be cleistothecia of powdery mildew (p. guttata) on the nyssa.

    Whoa. That’s a new word for me! I had to look it up and found that cleistothecia is the “fruiting structure” of powdery mildew fungi. Powdery mildew evidently can survive cold winters and hot dry summers as cleistothecia and then release spores when the time is right. I’ll be keeping my eye on the tupelos to see what develops. Thanks, Brian! -kris

  3. It was interesting to learn more about powdery mildew but I’ve just gotten an i.d. from Marion, Blithewold’s former interpretive horticulturist and plant pathologenius who moved to Utah. She says, “…the little galls are formed by a teeny mite called an eriophyid mite (Eriophyes nyssae) (not powdery mildew!). If you slice one of those galls open (need a scope), there will be a few to several dozen mites within each one. Their feeding causes the plant tissue to grow abnormally like that, but does not harm the tree. I remember seeing the galls on the tupelos growing by the water. The summer camp kids thought they were pretty cool.” Thanks, Marion! -kris

  4. On this longest day of the year, I’ve had my haircut, bought new plants, planted new plants, weeded naughty plants, ridden my horse, read a book, done some writing, done some catching up on blogs, and plan to stay up for many hours yet, though solstice point is meant to be in about 45 minutes according to the calendar on my office wall. Happy summer, Kris!

    Jodi, That sounds like the perfect day! May your summer be full of those. -kris

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *