Late Summer In My Garden -- Savoring Every Last Bit

Most of the summer I kept thinking, I need to do a blog post about my garden. I show bits. I show pieces, but not the whole thing. I'm always thinking, I have to wait until... this has filled in or that is looking a little better or the grass has been trimmed or that project is finished or, or, or... And now it's the end of summer and many things are looking a bit tired. Tall things, despite being propped up, are flopping over (I'm constantly fighting with garden stakes... does this happen to you, too?). My nasturtium plants are taking over the yard (not necessarily a bad thing). My cucumber plants all have a bad case of powdery mildew. The tomato plants are badly blighted. Many things have gone to seed (which I've intentionally let happen, either to feed the birds or so I can save the seeds for next year). In other words, although I love my garden and think it's beautiful even now, it's not at its most photogenic.

And yet, there's still magic happening. This past week I made a point of going out into the garden to take some photos. They won't really give you the big picture, but I hope they capture some of that magic.

These Incense Peach sweet peas, although slow to get started, have been blooming all summer long. There are lots of new buds and suddenly a flush of new growth.

sweet peas, incense peach sweet peas, summer garden, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I definitely plan on collecting their seeds for next year. They are the best sweet peas I've ever grown.

The sunflowers were slow to get started, too, but they have been beautiful.

sunflowers, summer garden, late summer, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

chianti sunflowers, sunflowers, summer garden, late summer, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Goldfinches and chickadees have been munching the seeds which makes me not want to cut a single blossom. Such joy those little birds bring me each day.

Much of the backyard is really too shady and my sunflowers (and other plants) would have been bigger and sturdier and more prolific if they'd had more sun.

sunflowers, garden, summer, late summer, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I dream of someday having enough room to grow many, many sunflowers and not feel guilty about cutting armloads to bring in for the house (and to paint).

I always seem to be looking to the future, but I think part of it is just the nature of gardening. Gardeners are always making plans for next year's garden. Or at least I am.

Next year I know I want to grow more zinnias. I have two plants this year, neither of which really had many flowers during the summer. One plant got broken during a storm and has been limping along ever since. The other suddenly is filled with new, bushy growth and lots of flower buds.

zinnias, pink zinnias, summer garden, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I'm so glad because they've been a favorite of the hummingbirds this year. Even when I had only two single zinnia flowers in the garden the hummingbirds would hover and sip and hover and sip, in love with those two flowers. How could I cut any to bring inside knowing that the hummingbirds wouldn't be able to enjoy them?

The simplest things bring me joy. Geraniums. Too ordinary? Not to me.

colorful leaf geranium, geraniums, geranium flowers, pelargonium, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I planted the cuttings I took last fall in a big pot and they have flourished. Growing and blooming like crazy all summer long. I can never resist a geranium. I bought one new geranium plant during the summer when the plants were on clearance at a market in a nearby town. The deep, dramatic red is almost impossible to capture with a camera.

red geranium, geraniums, pelargoniums, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

This picture doesn't do it justice. It makes me happy every time I see it.

Soon I'll be taking cuttings to bring inside for the winter. Not just geraniums, but begonias and impatiens and fuchsias, too. I put my overwintered plants directly in the ground this year and they were never without flowers.

fuchsias, pink fuchsias, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

fuchsias, red and white fuchsias, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Sweet and pretty in a shady spot where not much was going on.

In the early summer the lettuces and spinach did so well. We ate out of the garden just about every day. I also had a patch of arugula and mesclun that lasted fairly late into the season. Once I had some empty spaces I planted things for the late summer. Kale.

kale, late summer garden, gardening, edible gardening, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry 

Colorful swiss chard.

nasturtiums, swiss chard, summer garden, late summer garden, gardening, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Ooops! Do you see what I mean about the nasturtiums taking over the yard?

I think swiss chard is one of the prettiest edibles in the garden.

And delicious, too.

One plant that was new to the garden this year (and which will, hopefully, be delicious, too) is in Matthias' area of the garden. It's kind of silly to say that because we both work on all of the garden, but this was something that is special to him.

hops flowers, hops, beer garden, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Hops! The plant was tiny when our neighbor gave it to us, but it has grown by leaps and bounds and is now filled with flowers. Matthias has gotten serious about beer brewing this past year and is hoping to harvest and use the flowers in a future batch.

I thought my bachelor buttons were about finished for the year, but they've been putting on fresh flushes of flowers, despite being filled with seed heads.

bachelor buttons, summer garden, late summer garden, blue flowers, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I'm saving the seeds from these, though I know they'll probably pop up in the garden on their own, too.

And speaking of popping up on their own... Last year I had a few surprises in the garden. Some potatoes and a peanut plant. This year a vine started growing near our compost and I wasn't sure at first what sort of squash it was. We let it be because not much was going on in that part of the yard. Eventually it was clear what it was.

pumpkins, pumpkin in my garden, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

What a delight! The plant, like the cucumbers, has succumbed to powdery mildew, but it keeps putting out new growth and the pumpkin keeps growing. There was only one pumpkin on the whole large vine, but one was enough of a gift from the universe. The other day Matthias discovered a few more surprises.

gardening, pumpkins, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

There are four other baby pumpkins growing on this surprise vine.

Ok, now do you see why I love summertime so much?


  1. Thank you for this lovely tour of your blooms and veggies. xo

  2. Thank you for sharing these photos with us, Anne! I think I might have to try that sweet pea. I'm always on the hunt for new -to-me varieties :)

    1. Thanks, Laurie! I love finding new varieties of things, too. I think you'd LOVE that sweet pea.

  3. So beautiful! Everything is truly gorgeous. I think you take just the most magical photos Anne. I agree with you, two zinnias are not enough!

    1. Thanks so much, Jaime. It looks better when I can pick and choose what to show. Maybe I'll make some videos of my garden next year. It was so fun seeing yours!

      And those zinnias are going crazy right now. So many flowers! But I'll be sure to plant more next year and then I won't feel guilty about cutting them and bringing them inside!


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