When I drove along Rockingham Street and Logging Hill Road the other morning, I saw frost damage in the gardens. There had been ice on my windshield when I left work at 7 and blackened plants were no surprise. The cold settled into the Merrimack Valley and the growing season ended for 2019.
But not up on the big South Hill and not in a forest clearing, and not in a garden facing south south- west. The yellow coleus leaves had some crispy brown edges, but the zinnias are still here.
The Clara Curtis mums have yet to bloom, and I expect buds to open on the Aconitums any day. From the forecasts I have seen, a freeze of frost is unlikely in the next week. And certainly no hard freeze.
I gardened for more than a few decades in Nashville, and I can remember only one frost before Halloween. October 31st was always the day, and November 1st in the garden was truly the Day of the Dead. In spring the last frost could be anywhere from March 1st to April 15.
I grew up in the Upper Connecticut River Valley of New Hampshire, but was away so long that I could not remember how long the growing season here would be.
It is longer than I thought, and the summers are warmer than I remember. This has been a surprise. Perennials bloom longer here than they do in the South. In Nashville the daylilies, the phlox, and the coneflowers are done by mid July. One turns to tender salvias, annuals, and exotics to keep the garden going. There is no predictable rain from mid June until mid September in Tennessee. Gardens are hostages of the Bermuda High, and only a thunderstorm or hurricane remnants fight the dryness.
My friend in Green Hills describes this summer as a 100 degrees every day and no rain for weeks and weeks. Everything is brown. If gardeners want to water they have to depend on the Cumberland River and hope that the water department does not ban the hose.
It has been dry here, but not as brutally. I do remember in the early 1960s though, when my family lived in an old farmhouse above the Little Sugar River in North Charlestown. Our spring and springhouse went dry, and we had to go into the village near the old Farwell School to get water.
As to the photo in this post, the Montauk Daisy is a perennial new to me. My sister ,who planted it, told me it was a Gerbera Daisy, and did not believe me when I told her that I was certain it wasn’t. I would still not know what it was, had I not seen it for sale at a garden center in Henniker. I have also discovered that it roots rapidly as a cutting, even in sand, though it is so large I do not know how many one small garden could absorb. It is as big as a shrub, and I would think it is best used as a specimen. I see it blooming all over Concord now, along the little side streets.