Gardening takes no prisoners at this time of year, especially when it comes to patio containers. Yes, the weather is mellow and balmy and it’s so pleasant just to sit back the comfy chair, the one that rocks, feet up, drink on table, unread book in lap. But no. “Feed me!” Water me!” Deadhead me!” cry the still-lush pots of annuals, their roots taking up every inch of soil and plenty of promising buds in evidence.
Sure, I could ignore them, but it’s only September 1. This garden has plenty of life in it, and I’m normally not willing to give up until close to Halloween. It’s made worse because I tend to favor specialty annuals or heirloom varieties that aren’t as self-cleaning as the modern hybrids. The old-fashioned nicotianas I love require deadheading at both macro and micro levels. Those deadheads are sticky too. Zinnias are the queens of the cut-and-come-agains. Petunias do like to be regularly fed. And fuschias are great at letting you know when they’re thirsty. The annual agastaches and salvias alone seem not to care what I do, but everything else in a pot demands and gets daily attention at a time when I am least interested in providing it.
One nice thing: when I went to the Philadelphia Flower Show in June, I saw a lily vendor selling the same bulbs she sells in late winter at the indoor shows. “You’ll have these in September,” she promised. And she was right.