Today I was roaming through the garden with no particular purpose, just wandering, reflecting, listening. I choose each footstep carefully to avoid any of the abundant frogs that flee in terror as I approach, and pause for a few moments to watch a striped garter snake glide through the dark water in the front pond. I have seen fewer snakes in the garden this summer, and though I am not fond of snakes, I see no reason to be rid of them since they do no harm that I can see, and probably serve some useful purpose that I am not aware of.
The path along the side of the house disappears under a tangle of large leafed hostas and a tall nandina that arches over the stones, and I am cautious that a snake must lie in wait (or even a frog), so I opt to push through the azaleas, past a sharp-spined Dragon Lady holly, and thorny barberries that were once red-leafed before the black gum grew to shade the side yard. At one time, a number of years ago, a large black snake prowled this spot, long before the hostas obscured the path, and though the snake has not been seen for years, I would prefer to take the more certain route where I can see the ground for each step ahead.
I have considered transplanting the large clumps of hostas, which would not be difficult, and only one branch of the nandina obstructs the path, so the route could be cleared in a short while. I am expanding the garden just above this area, and a stone path will be extended from the edge of the lawn to meet the path that is blocked, which then reappears on the lower end of the overhanging hostas. I understand that it makes little sense to construct a path that leads nowhere, but this is the normal course of matters in the garden, and perhaps the nonsense will be resolved sooner rather than later by simply moving the four clumps of hosta.
I considered this project for a second, filed the notion for future consideration, and continued to wander, through the upper garden behind the house, and see that again today the toad lilies are not blooming, though their buds are swollen and must open any moment. Nearby, the roses continue in full bloom, and with cooler temperatures they have set many buds that will flower continuously into November.
I cross the small patch of woebegone lawn to the summer shade house, and notice a prominent bud on the passion flower vine (Passiflora), which I had considered dead and gone until it mysteriously sprouted in early August. I was elated that it had survived, but resigned that there would be no blooms this year as it recovered its vigor. Now, I am delighted to see the bud, but not surprised since I am frequently reminded how little about the garden I understand.
For a few minutes I visit with the koi and goldfish in the large swimming pond, and notice that the blooms of the Seven Sons Tree that nearly overhangs the pond are fading quickly. There are no butterflies visiting the remaining blooms, and only a few dozen bumblebees. The beginnings of the pink-purple bracts that will be colorful into October are evident, but are not prominent enough to be seen from even a few paces off.
Turning away from the hungry fish (I’ll return to feed them shortly), I pass the passion flower again, and see that the bud has opened, the bloom is in its full glory. If I had lingered for several minutes longer before visiting the koi I would have witnessed the bloom unfolding, and there are few flowers as stunningly beautiful, and none so complex in shape and coloration as the passion flower.
At the base of the steel support for the passion vine the autumn saffrons (Colchicum) are fading. Two varieties have bloomed a bit early in this late summer, and I have kept a watchful eye for ‘Waterlily’ with large double flowers, but I see no evidence of it, and perhaps I have forgotten where it was planted. The corms are poisonous, so they have not been eaten, and they are quite vigorous, so I will presume that one day soon the flowers will appear, probably on the far side of the garden from where I’ve been looking.