Common Ground – September 2020

“….there is a harmony 

In Autumn, and a lustre in its sky,

Which through the summer is not heard or seen….”


Some years we seem to anticipate fall like it is the real new year and we approach it with a sense of purpose and determination. This year I think we should all get tee shirts that say I survived July. I’m still tired from the heat of July and I have barely given fall a thought.

It was the hottest July, apparently, in eighty-four years and it felt like it. Fortunately there was lots of rain along with the heat.

The vegetable garden this year was one of the most successful ever. Tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini all outdid themselves in the tropical heat.

It has been a good garlic year with all the rain. Garlic planting feels like it is a long way off with the heat not letting up.

I have had my favourite summer salad many times in late July and August and I never tire of it. Like asparagus, it has a limited season so I try to make it often. It consists of roughly chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, a bit of basil, some olive oil and tarragon vinegar. Some feta is a nice addition bit not strictly necessary. This for me is the best of the summer garden. No kale required. Kale will have its day when it’s cool enough once again to get out the soup pot.

I was not troubled by cucumber or squash beetles. But I know that many people battled those this year. And perhaps it is unlucky to say this out loud but tomato horn worms have not visited me for several years now.

In the flower garden, the giant glads I got from Vesey’s did not disappoint. These are real go big or go home flowers and I love how huge and dramatic they are. I always order mixed colours and I end up liking all of them. Even the pale peach which I leave in the garden and never take into the house. Height wise some of them were more than four feet tall. They obviously prospered in the tropical heat.

The pink and purple phlox in the wild garden have also had a banner year. I have never seen them so brilliant or so fragrant as they have been this year. They really suffer in dry years and I feel quite sorry for them so it has been good to see them do well.

I have been doing less pandemic reading as life slowly returns to normal. The classics are back on their shelves and I’m glad I had them to turn to in this strangest of strange times.

No less an authority than Keith Richards has extolled the virtues of having a personal library. How much more civilised this is than the minimalists who want all of us to (horror of horrors) get rid of books. Sorry Marie Kondo but Keith Richards wins this one.

I’m looking forward to leaving the heat behind and welcoming the cooler days of fall. And maybe even thinking about garlic planting and the state of the woodpile.

Happy fall everyone.

By Jill Williams

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