Last Sunday, it rained. The day was gray, humid to a point, and the overcast made everything seem bluer than normal. I worked on refinishing some picnic furniture, getting a coat of polyurethane on to help it make it through a few more years. As the day wore on, the clouds lowered, settling in near the tops of the trees with sinister intent. It was still. Nevertheless, we watered the garden, knowing that if we didn’t the rain would hold off. It always does, when the plants need it in August. So we watered, and went inside.

And sitting in my chair in the late afternoon, I listened as the wind pattern changed to a rhythmic tapping.

It was raining.

And it rained all night so that Monday the soil was too soggy to work (yes, I tried weeding a bit when I went to check on the garden). It was to damp to prune. I checked the picnic furniture, and the weather sealing was holding up to the rain, but it was too wet to just sit and enjoy.

And it rained again overnight.

Tuesday we were away (Powell’s field trip! yes, I bought a book on gardening…Period Gardens by Patrick Taylor, and a few storybooks for teaching), and it was dry, more or less.

Until the evening, when it rained. Again.

Wednesday, we did small things in the garden, and in between sun breaks a mist or a shower or a bit of liquid sun would invade. Only here and there, and for the most part the garden was able to dry out.

Thursday, we worked in the garden for a few brief moments between other activities, finishing one side of the garden gate, but not weeding or pruning in the garden this week.

showing the internal structure of the rose and a pile of branches almost as big as the remaining plant

Today… I got up early and pruned back most of the rosa rugosa by myself. Far enough to see that, if I want, I can just wait until winter, cut back the canes and let it return in the Spring a more reasonable size. Or move it down by the road. Or… there are options. Then Grant helped me remove the broken top of the pear, and take out (as completely as we could without destroying the “twin” tree) a bigleaf maple that was growing too close to the mound.

grant next to the rugosa when it was fully clipped - he is 6 feet tall, it is barely taller than him

grant in the tree, about 25 feet up, balancing on a branch to cut a section down

Losses: one rosemary (didn’t get enough water when I was away), the edelweiss (same story), and the top of one of my favorite trees in the orchard. The tree had been damaged during the ice storm in January, then a buddeleia had impinged on its canopy space and caused it to bend. And then… well it would have been a bumper crop this year, and that did it in. So we will prune, salvage what we can, and if necessary replant. One garden victory this week, the dahlia “Pooh” bloomed, and looks even more lovely than I had hoped.

Dahlia "Pooh" from dan's dahlias, new this year

Taking out the maple and the rose really opens up the mound again. Dahlias will do much better this coming year. It will be easier to mow and more conducive to keeping invasive blackberries off. The little natural grove with the bitter cherry and elderberries (and trailing blackberries) will be much livelier as well. I hate taking out beautiful trees, as the maple was, but I know that in the long run this was better than worrying about roots, brittle branches, and

The end of summer is bittersweet for me. I love the fullness of the harvest, the exuberant blooms, the sense of togetherness that the long days allow, the feeling of repose that settles in this time of year. But I am less fond of the sense of endings, of goodbyes, of closing off that is in the air. The first rains always herald closing up the house, trying to stay warm enough in the clammy air that pervades everything, and the scattering of everyone to their tasks and private spaces.