Passing through the yard today; another hint that autumn's on the way.
Right now the weather is warm and wonderful in the way that only September can be with its sparkling crisp mornings and that lovely peach light that casts long shadows across the landscape at dusk. The sun is hot, but the shady places are cool and dark, quilts are back on the beds. I'm savoring the last bits of the herb garden with all its textures and colors. This late in the season, the different varieties have become good friends, scrambling over each other, creating new and novel displays on their own. And always, it seems, with 'silver artemisia' at the center of it all. It's the life of the party around here, taking center stage wherever it lands. Spreading itself liberally again this year. It's tolerated because it adds a lacy gray contrast to all the greens. It peeks out here and there. All innocent looking. Making me forget that it can become a voluminous shrub nearly 6 feet in circumference and just as tall once I turn my back on it. Perhaps I should take a firmer stand and root it out once and for all before it takes over the whole yard,. (I say this every year and mean it!) And then I see this . . . and lose my resolve completely.
In any case, I've been down on my hands and knees and up to my elbows in the veg garden picking what's left, pulling up what's done, and putting away what I can. A true gardener never lets anything go to waste. On Saturday I made a BIG jar of refridgerator pickles and then went out and picked little bunches of rosemary, thyme, marjoram, pineapple mint, purple sage and summer savory--to dry. It's really such a simple thing to do and makes the kitchen highly aromatic. I like to tie my herb bundles with small rubberbands, slip in a hook (fashioned from ornament hangers) and hang them where I can enjoy them fully. They look and smell wonderful dangling from the kitchen pot rack, but actually herbs are best dried in a cool, dry place (upside down so all the goodness goes into the leaves). After a few days I strip the dry leaves from the stems and store them in small jars. If you leave them hanging around too long they will collect dust. At least they do here. So it's a short-term project. One I welcome right now with so much else to do. The bulk of our "harvest" (though extremely modest) seems to come in September, along with my birthday, falling somewhere near the middle of it. Always a most welcome diversion!
While I was at it, I gathered a few seeds for next year's plantings. Tucking them safely away in tiny white envelopes is strangely satisfying. So did that, with the exception of the celery seed; all the umbrella heads were cut and dropped into a paper bag to catch the seeds as they fell off the stems. Even though I only allowed one celery plant to go fully to seed, there was a lot and the bag was stuffed full when I brought it inside. I was exhausted and left it all by the kitchen door and went to collapse in my chair, thinking I'd just leave it overnight giving the seeds additional time to dry up and drop off. I'd gather them up later. Seemed like a good plan. But the next morning, when the girls came down to breakfast, they discovered the bag contained more than just celery seeds. By then, a buzzillion tiny mites, like specks of fine black pepper, had crept out of the bag and were headed for higher ground. The insect mind says, "follow the light"....so, up the walls they went, across the windows, some got lost and trickled into the china cupboard, others kept going and were clinging to the ceiling, hundreds more continued to spill over the sides of the bag. (I'm getting all itchy just talking about it!) Apparently, upon seeing this, lots of squealing ensued, followed by hysterical hose vacuuming. I was out running errands at the time, oblivious to the torment underway. Oh-Boy. Was I in trouble when I got home! Especially as we've just spent months and hundreds of dollars trying to rid the house of bug infestations. And here I am bringing sack loads of them in. OOPs!!
(I tried not to laugh, really I did.)