IF WE SEE middle age approaching we develop a fondness for July, and by the age of 60, when middle age indeed is achieved, we even like August.
The gardener has thinned the peaches to six or nine inches apart and the tree has dropped all it is going to drop: The peaches remaining will mature and be a spectacular harvest in August.
The grapes are doing well. One that seems to me superior is "Villard Blanc," which has tremendous clusters of white grapes in September, sweet and winy and as far as I am concerned, of dessert quality.Others I admire are "Buffalo" which is fine for covering an arbor and "Steuben," which also does well on arbors though it tends to overbear and if it does, then dies back.
Both of those are black grapes, and "Steuben" has the better quality, though "Buffalo" is earlier in August and therefore welcome. Others I am counting on, though the vines are not mature yet, are "Verdelet," a white, useful for eating fresh: "Monticello," a relatively high-quality Vriginia-bred by Moore of Virginia Polytechnic Institute blue that may be quite disease-resistant, and which has handsome foliage, and "Alden," a large blue.
Years ago the hybrid lily (we shall now leave the stomach and turn to the soul) "George C. Creelman" was introduced as a garden form of the regal lily, L regale.
Gardeners fall into two sorts, those who think the wild regal lily, from the Tibet-China border country, is perfectly all as God made it and those who object to the crowded placement of blooms in a one-plane circle.
The plain regal seems to me as good as lily needs to be, but "Creelman" has the flowers more widely spaced, and the stems are straighter and stronger. Apart from that, it looks like the plain regal.
The bulbs I have are obviously a strain, not a clone; that is, they have been raised from seed, not from scales of the orginal bulb. They therefore vary somewhat from one another, but are a great pleasure in the border. The white trumpets, touched with bright yellow inside, are flushed madder along the outside ribs like the regal, and are equally fragrant. It is agreeble to wander down the walk late at night and smell them, since the scent is airborne at night, but not in the day.
Another good white strain of trumpet lilies is "Sentinal," which is shorter this year than the name suggests.They are only three feet or so, but before I moved them last fall, they were four and a half or five feet.
My favourite of the late-June and early July trumpet lilies is the white "Black Dragon," with dark madder ribs. This lily reaches six or seven feet and the blooms are extremely large, like the difficult wild L. Brownii.
A rich yellow trumpet lily is the strain called "Golden Splendor," which is not any better than the strain from which it was derived, "Golden Clarion." By this I mean that my old Clarions, years ago, were as fine as my new Splendors, but the new strain is better than the old on the average. It's just that I was uncommonly lucky inthe individual Clarions I got years ago.
Now, "Golden Splendor" is as good, with random selection bulbs, as "Golden Clarion" was with specially selected bulbs.
People have been saying lately that the amateur who knows nothing about lilies should start with Asiatic hybrids.
On the contrary, one should start with "Black Dragon" and "Golden splendor." There is nothing wrong with the Asiatics (a ridiculous name, since the bulk of lilies come form Asia, but the classification Asiatics refers only to some of them, and they are far from the loviest at that.) Nothing wrong, but nothing very right, either. They are good lilies for florists to force in pots, and they are all right in a border, but they have nothing of the beauty of the tall noble trumpet lilies.
The beginner, therefore, should start with the more beautiful trumpets. A plant now coming into bud is the Alstroemeria, from Chile, I believe, though it is called Peruvian lily. It's foliage suggests an odd cross between lily and carnation, being grayish, and the flowers suggest an odd cross of nasturtium and lily. They are small, an inch and a half across, between trumpet and bell shape, and are borne freely on stems perhaps two feet high.
The one we used to grow in the South had red and green flowers and was handsome enough. The ones florists grow are soft yellows and pinks.
At some effort I acquired from England (not knowing where to get them here) some of the Ligtu hybrids in pastel colors, I was told to plant them a foot deep, which did not seem at all reasonable, since the roots are like thick spaghetti and fragile.
When I planted them outdoors in mid-Decmeber a foot deep, I never expected to see them again. Now they are about to bloom, so I am glad I followed instructions.
The red bee-balm has had no hummingbirds, but there is no law against hope.Any nitwit can grow this plant, with its wonderful whorls of deep red, but I lost it more than once by relegating it to a dry undesirable spot (it is, after all, a weed). A weed, yes, but it has its requirements, and appreciates a sunny, rich, moist spot.
The purple clematis, "Lady Betty Balfour" is finishing its bloom. It is later than most large-flowered clematis, and I wanted it for late July and August. In our salubrious climate, however, it races along, even if pruned near the ground in March, and flowers in June.
The gladiolus planted in March start blooming the end of June, and while one can get as sick of them as chrysanthemums (flowershops display both endlessly all year long), still no flower has more glorious reds than gladiolus. They are gawky in the garden and I say I grow them for cutting, but we are rarely cut any, and admiree them outdoors. The daylilies are of course rather showy now, and I see the first buds on the yellow clematis, C. tangutica. The plume poppies are in bloom, and my fat-leaf babies, the Japanese butterburns, are lush.
The water lilies, "Chromatella" and "James Brydon," yellow and rose-red respectively, confirm my prudence in choosing themfrom among so many varieties now available.