Bring the kids home from Plant Camp. The cats currently sunning themselves on my windowsill aren’t going to be happy about this, but they’re about to get displaced. Time to do triage on the houseplants that have spent the summer out on the front steps. Some will come straight indoors, pots and all (more about them next week); others are now too big and will have to be downsized to fit through the front door. The rest will just send representative cuttings indoors to start new houseplants.
Smell the hostas. Hostas are usually more of a springtime event, much more famous for their foliage in that season, which gradually burns out as the summer heat increases. But a few varieties, most particularly Hosta plantaginea or August Lily, are blooming now and are extremely fragrant. Follow your nose and stick a label in the ground; then come back in the spring and divide the heck out of them. And while you’re walking around with your nose to the ground, check out the Datura lilies or trumpet flowers. Like the fragrant hostas, these flowers open later in the day and perfume the air, attracting pollinators from across the city.
Fantasize a little. Time to start collecting bulb catalogs (plant porn) and figuring out what tickles your fancy. Then downsize your expectations by two-thirds, and order some bulbs in time to plant them next month.
Go chop down some weeds. Machetes, sickles, and scythes come in a variety of sizes to match your anger-management needs. Clear the fence line, and get those horrible vines down out of the trees. Invasive vines are at their most beautiful right now and most deadly, maybe, because many of them are loaded with seeds. Dispose of those far, far away from the garden.
Sally McCabe is associate director of community education at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (phsonline.org) and a co-owner of Cobblestone Krautery (www.cobblestonekrautery.com).