A Chinese chestnut gardener discovered last year a lot of grubs when he went to roast his harvest and wonders if there isn't some simple way to foil them in storage. Any advice you may have will be passed along to him.
I have never thought chestnuts were so hot, myself, a view based on a dreadful cake my wife made once, of ground chestnuts and chocolate and cream. It cost $26,000 to make and was so rich you couldn't eat it, and was not very good either. So be warned of chestnuts, but if you know how to degrub them, share your knowledge for our grubby friend.
I measured the first reachable flower on our moon vine Aug. 27 at seven inches even. It looks even bigger, since the flower is flat, not trumpet or bell-throated like a morning glory. The first flower was Aug. 26, or six weeks later than usual -- who knows why?
In June the tropical house at Kew Gardens had a mass of bloom on the native Nymphaea mexicana, a rather pretty tiny flower that is of interest chiefly because it is the parent of the hardy 'Yellow Pigmy' water lily commonly grown in very small pools or tubs. My own plant has perhaps 50 leaves and is growing like mad, but not a single flower. It seems unfair for this native plant, basking in a perfectly satisfactory warm summer in the capital, to refuse to bloom, while flowering lavishly in a London greenhouse.
A gardener who has a peony, 'Festiva Maxima,' the pre-Civil War white with red flecks and an agreeable smell, would like to grow a group of additional peonies covering the entire blooming season, preferably with all types of peony flower.
Washington often seems to me disastrously far north, with an unspeakable winter climate, but I confess we are warm enough that some of the late-season peonies do not open properly. They blast. The buds never open. Still, some of the late ones do well enough, but with me the trouble is they bloom almost as early as the early varieties.
In some places the season for some particular kind of flower may last six or eight weeks, while in other places the same varieties bloom in a succession much briefer than that. Irises, roses, peonies and lilies are examples of shortened blooming seasons in the South. Our daffodils have a long season indeed, sometimes more than six weeks, but as spring advances the warmth inspires everything to rush into flower. Thus roses that in England bloom two months apart may bloom within two or three weeks of each other here, and the same is true of peonies.
I would strongly suggest some of the early-blooming "hybrid" peonies, which do indeed bloom some days before the "early" kinds. If you think of 'Festiva Maxima' as an early sort (it blooms with the irises) but would like something earlier, then a superb choice is 'Red Charm,' which blooms perhaps two weeks before that, and is out of bloom before most peonies begin their great show.
There are many other peonies of the 'Red Charm' type available from specialists, and the most impressive thing about them, apart from their earliness, is that among them there are reds much cleaner and more brilliant than in other types.
Among Japanese peonies -- wide outer petals and a mass of confetti stamens in the center -- it is probably impossible to find one that is not beautiful. 'Westerner' is a salmon pink on virtually any list of recommended kinds, a lovely flower, but one I am addicted to is 'Largo,' which is rose-colored, a bit of blue in it, that never looks very good in color pictures. I have seen it (and grown it) when it was the showiest plant in the garden, a thing I mention to remind you that plants are often more impressive in the garden than in catalogue descriptions.
My suggestion is to get a catalogue from a peony grower -- one who specializes in them -- and choose early varieties in as wide or as narrow a color range as you please, avoiding the costlier novelties on the firm ground that old varieties are as gorgeous as newer ones.
'Monsieur Jules Elie' is a century-old silver pink, well scented, that does as well in Washington as elsewhere, which is to say superbly. 'Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt' is another pink that is an old war horse. A somewhat loose red flower that always does well is 'Big Ben.' There are dozens of others. They should all be planted from dormant roots in October.
My own peonies suffer from encroachment by other plants, including weeds that get going if I leave them a few weeks in the summer and never quite catch up again until fall. They all like leaf mold if you can get it and discreet (half-inch mulches) dressings of manure. Not too much, and maybe only in alternate years. They also like being scratched (no deep cultivation around them, just enough scratching to break the surface) several times through the summer. Irises respond to this very light cultivation also, though it is hard to remember it on a blazing hot day.
Japanese anemones are in bloom now, splendid flowers for late summer and soundly perennial. It used to be the pink ones were uncommon, but now they are commoner than the white ones. A couple of years ago mine had six-foot stems and flopped about in storms. This year I whacked the tops out in early June and they are much shorter, though they still flop. Like almost everything else they are full of bugs that sting, which takes some of the pleasure from flowers this time of year.