It’s Officially Summer
The beginning of summer is marked in different ways. For some people, it is Memorial Day. For others, the first tomato. The Summer Solstice. The last day of school. For me, it is when the daylilies begin blooming.
When I moved into this house, I was delighted to find a clump of daylilies in the backyard. In the succeeding years, I’ve heard them called many things. Daylilies. Ditch lilies. Tawny lilies. I’ve always called them daylilies. They are the lilies of my childhood. Even then, they were considered “common”. Only old people and people with no taste grew them. “Modern” gardens tended by “modern” gardeners were never sullied with their presence. Still, I have fond memories of them.
As an heirloom gardener, I’ve come to appreciate them even more. Their toughness which enables them to survive and grow almost anywhere has kept them around long after more delicate plants have died out. They provide a direct link with our colonial past, having been brought to the New World by European settlers. Eventually they escaped from cultivation and became naturalized in the landscape. It is difficult for me to regard as a “weed” a plant that was once considered valuable enough to have been imported across the ocean.
Over the years that I’ve lived in this house, I’ve nurtured my clump of daylilies. I’ve weeded them and fed them with compost. Every year I widen the bed a little encouraging them to spread. I mark the seasons by their growth. Spring is underway when the first foliage begins to peek above the soil. Summer has arrived with the first blossoms. The foliage starts to die back in the autumn. Winter leaves the bed bare of everything but a few dried leaves. Winter is many months away. Right now, the daylilies are blooming. Summer has begun.