Spring into Summer
May was another very rainy month. Not too surprising when we consider what climatologists are writing. Climate change is creating a wetter east coast.
I’m noticing plants that prefer drier conditions such as Juniperus virginiana (Eastern Red Cedar), yucca, and many other varieties are showing signs of high water stress. Apple Cedar Rust, Black Spot and powdery mildew are starting to pop up all around. Some junipers are turning a shade of orange and others plants are literally rotting in the ground, depending on the soil type. Their roots are hoping for sunshine to dry out the surface soil.
Rhododendron, blueberry, ferns and moss love every minute of this wet maritime type weather. Plants growing in pots will need another shot of organic fertilizer before they turn yellow from lack of nutrients. Vegetables in containers should be planted with soil that drains well.
June begins three months of pleasant nights. I enjoy late evenings sitting out on the patio or grass listening to the ball game and watching the fireflies. As a kid during a warm June evening, I remember catching a jar full of fireflies and using this jar as a lantern. I often wondered what created this light. I found out the light is produced by a slow, practically heatless, oxidation of luciferin. Luciferin is a substance produced in the firefly’s body. Why the insect produces the light is still a mystery to me. Does it have a mating purpose? Is there a sexual significance? This is another one of nature’s mysteries that brightens the night this time of year.
June is an iris month: an ancient flower that is the anchor of the early June perennial border. I have seen iris planted with tulips because as the tulips fade the iris “flags” open. There are a few species of native iris that make a beautiful cut flower. June also has roses in bloom, featuring the native Virginia and Swamp Rose. These roses are not only simple and showy but are less susceptible to bugs and disease, and are shade tolerant.
June is strawberry month, one of my personal favorites. I use strawberries as a ground cover in my gardens. At the garden center, the Appalachian Trail hikers love this mid-June strawberry treat. June is fresh-cut hay; a smell I will always remember. June is ten to fifteen turkey chicks following mom around the meadow. June is a Bambi month when the first week-old fawn with all her white “freckles” frolics around with her twin brother. June is elderberries; a tasty natural treat. June is daisies, buttercups, blackberries, and the start of the Black-eyed Susan flowers. June is in bloom.
June is the call of the Whip-poor-will; a shy bird in the caprimulgidae family. Caprimulgus is Latin for “goat sucker.” Legend has it that the Whip-poor-will haunted herds of goats at dusk. They milked the goats and lived on the milk. It was later learned they lived on the insects that followed the goats. Goat Suckers, Night Jar, Poor Willow, Chuck Will’s Widow, or Night Hawk are some of the common names given to this migrating bird that gets to our area by mid-spring. It first nests in a crude nest of dead leaves with two eggs and then spends the summer. It’s a bird that sleeps all day and seldom appears from behind the shadows. I’ve heard this bird call out all night and repeat the call several hundred times without pause. Keep the earplugs handy at bed time in case a pair of Whip-poor-will decide to nest in your area.
Summer begins June 21st with misty mornings, hot afternoons, and Kelly green hillsides, cold frosty drinks by the lake, no shirt, tank tops, and mini skirts. Come on summer!
Pete and the Natives
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