The hot winds of August have long been blowing around the ridge and Fairy
Holler. The brief but intense downpours have wrecked havoc with the
structure that I reside within, but have been refreshing in their reviving
of the residents who are struggling to live in their raised beds. I have
found myself this year observing from behind selected viewing portals at the
flying acts that are more amusing and entertaining than any repeat
programming on television.
Yesterday in a moment of spacey contemplation, I was standing at the bedroom
window, gazing at the colors of August in the front fairy gardens when I saw
movement amongst the second wave of blooming Kugglesonne rudbeckia.
The Kugglesonne's this year have been prolific. In anticipation of their
stature, I had placed large garden grids over two clumps of them to help in
supporting their tall flower stems when they were ready to bloom in July and
August. They fooled me. They threw another clump outside the western end
bed beside the Chinese Almond bush, again. That first clump I had lifted
and plunked into the side yard's bed to bulk up the side bed's bloomer's.
The original K. rudbeckia must have thought it a joke, because I noticed
another healthy wad of large leaves this spring where the last throw had
been. I was amazed at the health and vigor of just living outside the
raised bed of worm casting soil in hard, red clay. I forgot to shove a grid
over the clump..............
Standing in a haze, I noticed the bright yellow petals of newer buds moving
and focused upon the flowers. Ahhhhh, the collaboration between fairies and
the actual culprit who is probably responsible for the sowings of more and
more plants was visible, but barely. He moved with precision as he tore
into the past bloomed heads of the rudbeckia. A brilliantly decked out
He munched and tore into the remaining seed heads with so much
concentration, he didn't see me standing in the front door closest to the
original clump that was supported. I had moved in my fascination of his
The dawgs had gone into son's room and slipped into his bed to hang and
snooze with him since they still thought I was sitting at the computer desk.
So they weren't aggravating me at the door and blowing my cover. I stood
quietly with the door slightly open so I could hear the outside sounds and
feel the wave of hot winds as they tried and succeeded to push past the
cooler air of the house and me.
The colors of the Goldfinches topcoat were as brilliant as the rudbeckia's.
And as I watched him with deliberately slowed breaths so he wouldn't hear
me, I noticed out of the corners of my eyes, more flying acts in this late
It's been a color extravaganza this year in Fairy Holler. So much to share.
The four o'clocks this year wowed me. I always pull up as many seedlings
from the little black dimpled grenade's as I can, because they grow to
great, smothering succulent and knobby kneed inconsiderate plants. I get
enough show and perfume from the great tubers of previous year's plants that
return every year for me.
This year, I noticed that magenta and yellow 4's were all mingled
everywhere. And when I saw everywhere, I mean, everywhere. Through the
whole front bed, outside the front beds and even popping up in the perennial
containers and trying to establish in the driveway.
The most notable 4's though were the magenta ones. I had one that grew so
upright, it invited me to stake it and support the central knobby stalk. I
did. For my consideration and foresight, it grew to be SIX FOOT FIVE INCHES
TALL. I know the heights it achieved because son is six foot four
inches..........it was taller than he.
That plant, the flowers were the normal, eye popping magenta. And as you
pushed past the knobby arms that reached over the sidewalk thru the sage
smelling branches and blue flowers of Blue Enigma salvia, the combined
aroma's of sage from the salvia and the sharp and wonderful smell of
Mirabilis (4's) was enough to stop you in your tracks and inhale. I did.
With all the downpours and overcast days, they opened at all times of day
and into the evenings where they stayed open all night. During the
construction of the nook's boardwalk into an amazing mini deck that youngest
son built for me, I was forced to use the centrally located entrance, and
the fours and other occupants wowed me.
The other revelation of 4's this year was the obvious mutation of a magenta.
It's not just magenta. The central portion of each trumpet flower was a
lighter, metallic pink. The colors blended with each other, but the central
color made each flower highly noticeable. They smelled as sweet.
Under and woven thru all the tangles of foliage, the yellow ones popped up
thru to highlight the beds. Some of the yellow's persistently trying to
jump over the gravel driveway, and showing me that a couple of their tubers
were growing in clay and gravel and didn't mind in the least.
As the colors started focusing in, I noticed I had been spotted. The finch
cursed me, and flew off to the side and went to the western front volunteer
clump to nosh. That plant showed me that rich soil, even if leeched by
rains and snows of a decade were still enough to make the flower stems grow
in curves instead of upright and straight. Because the flower stalks of the
volunteer grew as straight and upright as if I HAD staked them with a
support grid! Only a final pounding rain last week was able to bend them to
their more prone and reclining state. The finch didn't care. He was intent
on the buffet before him.
All thru the towering stalks of assorted returning acts, floating hang
gliders were everywhere. Swallowtails, all types of them, in every possible
coloration imaginable have hatched and grown to full size to sup from my
many flowers and taste the sweet fruits of the fallen pears in the driveway
just past the gates of Miz Mary's old ancient pear tree.
Monarch's, checkered skippers, dusky wings, longtails, giant skippers,
Fritillaries, Emperors, Snouts, Satyrs, Viceroys,Admirals and Sisters, and
Painted Ladies. Crescents and other butterflies have made the air thick
with their flying. You expect there is need for a teeny air control fairy to
orchestrate their glidings among all the landing area's.
The colors are diverse, even for hot days of August. A hot pinkish purple
(pirkle) clump of still blooming Phlox where I park on the bricks out front,
growing thru the cracks are pinkish white and pirkle Cleome to compliment
the phlox's colors. And thrusting thru all this, a determined white
As your eyes are drawn by the pink's you notice at the edge of your vision
the deep blue of the Enigma salvia that reach over the supporting wires I
plunged into the edge of the concrete that provides a firm footing towards
the new side deck. That garden wire was put there to discourage Sugar and
later Smιagol from digging the loose, rich soil.
Dark eyes ringed by orange yellow petals battered but still hanging in there
on the little Black eyed Susan's in the container beside purple asters that
are starting to spring open.
Munched spires of purple Loosestrife stand with arms uplifted for perching
of any tired flyer. Next to that, the perfect Quaking Oatgrass in another
container that gifted me with thousands of little seedlings when I didn't
cut the seedheads back last year.....................the fairy's joke on me
for not being diligent.
Thru all these flyers, a twirrrrling sound, high pitched and familiar. The
real star of this colorful flying display. Hummer's. Green and electric,
and the more muted grayish of his wife, and their children who now chase
each other thru the forest of flowers.
Long ousted from this paradise, I no longer see the rare and seldom seen
Ruby throat hummingbird. He's been thrown out of the Rufus' neighborhood.
There ain't room enough for the two of them apparently. Never mind, I
enjoyed his brief showing in the Enigma salvia before the Rufus ran his ass
If you stand or sit in front of any front window of this disaster of a
house, your soul is immediately filled to overflowing with the colors of the
last days of August.
Mary Emma's tough pinkish white phlox that has literally bloomed all season.
She arrived all decked out in twice her usual amount's flowers because I
finally clipped her back hard in early spring once the growth took off. She
too, has thrown me daughters in random fairy selected places to fill in a
need for a color, however delicate.
Underneath the black cherry tree, the toughest shade and drought tolerant
plants have survived my neglect this year. Toad lilies are now gracing
slender stalks that rise up among the many many leaves of the perennial
begonia which are all sporting dangles of hot pink flowers.
A hint of texture, a stubborn Japanese painted fern hangs on by threads at
the corner of a barren spot where I know the "taters" of Pottingshed's
Virginia bluebells are resting up for next year's display. Astilbe have
crisped and died back to the soil, the texture of the Arborvitae fern is
underneath the variegated leaves of the Peris, and I disturb little teensy
toads as I wander to see how much under the tree has managed to survive
despite it's greedy roots.
Beside the gate that leads you inside Fairy Holler grows Zebra grasses that
are now making seed heads of golden, and the grasses, not having been tied
or girdled up are flopping wide open underneath the astounding display of
the white crape myrtle I brought from home 13 plus years ago that was a gift
from a former employer and my first gardening mentor, Jack Totty.
Complimenting the white spires of this myrtle, are hot pink ones that are
crowding the gate's railings. And behind and between these two perfect
colors, are ever blooming orange sherbet trumpet vine.
Japanese anemone that were munched to lace by blister beetles before I
sprayed them with pyrethrum to fell them quickly and before they could lay
eggs greet me in four places with their pure pink flowers that sit atop four
foot stems. Each imperfect and perfect flower is dotted with a dark yellow
eye that greets each flyer as they glide past on their way to other treats.
No pink butterfly bush this year, she was trimmed and then brutally whacked
out of necessity for the deck's widening. I moved her, but I don't see signs
of life from her yet. I hope she's just sulking. I miss her blossoms that
attracted the flutter by's and even the hummers so closely to my nook
The outside beckons me and I go out with umbrella in case it really rains (I
hope so, containers and raised gardens are making an obvious sucking sound)
and look skywards and see those perfect imitations of deflating brownish
pink balloons up in the upper tips of the fig tree. It's FIG TIME!!!!
So laying down the umbrella, tucking the digital camera into a pocket, I
grab thick branches and start to bend them towards me, so I can reach those
treasures of sweet perfection. Some have passed their perfect sweetness and
piss ants are cleaning them up on the stems. I leave them for their
enjoyment, and take nearby figs. Most of them huge.
It's easy to get lost in the branches of a fig tree that has started
ripening it's fruits. I'm more watchful of those enormous hornets that
visited the figs last year than anything else. Plucking each perfect fig,
and spotting yet two or five more in other upper branches, I feel little
ants falling on me as I shake their buffet, and I keep snacking.
The grassy weed that has taken over every pathway, every terraced landing
around the house, blown over to inhabit the promising eastern yard to
heights that are now past my knees, as I wade thru it, making paths, I
realize I will have to tear all of this out very soon before those pink ball
like flowers form on the ends and I have ten times this amount next year.
The air is thick with humidity, the chirping sounds of cicada's, and a tired
bird or two. The winds are warm, and the sparce drops of rain are almost
hot. Maybe it will rain after all. Then I can watch the hummer supping the
deep blue trumpets of the Enigma salvia as the raindrops dilute the nectar
he finds in each flower. I think I'll go get another couple of
madgardener, up on the ridge, back in Fairy Holler, overlooking a cloud
enshrouded English Mountain in Eastern Tennessee zone 7, Sunset zone 36