Summer in the south

Though summer weather has been around for at least a month, the official start of summer arrived on Saturday with the solstice. On Saturday, I read a poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar, one especially fitting—and lovely—and I wanted to share it with you here:

Summer in the South

The oriole sings in the greening grove
As if he were half-way waiting,
The rosebuds peep from their hoods of green,
Timid and hesitating.
The rain comes down in a torrent sweep
And the nights smell warm and pinety,
The garden thrives, but the tender shoots
Are yellow-green and tiny.
Then a flash of sun on a waiting hill,
Streams laugh that erst were quiet,
The sky smiles down with a dazzling blue
And the woods run mad with riot.

Orioles don’t hang around where I live, but there are plenty of beautiful birds that do spend their summers here. I saw a goldfinch perched on the butterfly bush on Saturday, but alas, without camera in hand, I don’t have an image of it to share with you here. I will share photos of the flowers that were blooming this solstice day.


A butterfly bush bloom, sans goldfinch


Red geraniums fill the pots on the front porch steps.

Have you planted your red geraniums yet?


Proving that last year’s calla lily blooms weren’t a fluke, they’ve come back this year.


I wish these day lilies could last longer than a day.


A hibiscus bloom promises to open.


Open hibiscus. Yay!

The first few years after I planted this hibiscus, it returned as a single stalk. Last year, two stalks grew. This year, three. Will there be more in the coming years?


A promise of even more hibiscus blooms


The white hydrangea has made an appearance, blooming again after taking a year off.


You know I love my red rocket snapdragons, right?

This is the first year that the snapdragons have self-sowed from prior years, a welcome event given that several of the established snapdragons didn’t survive the winter. In my garden, they are the tenderest of shoots, the “yellow-green and tiny” ones of Dunbar’s poem. One snapdragon volunteer has even popped up in the garden’s rock wall. I don’t know why this tender-tough little plant growing here thrills me so:


The last line of Dunbar’s poem makes me chuckle a bit. While the woods may be running mad with riot, so are the weeds. They’ve stayed one step ahead of me this year, but I hope to have them under control soon. They don’t deserve to run mad with riot. And you’ll notice that they don’t appear in my photographs, as they don’t deserve to be immortalized that way either.

How about your garden? Are the weeds overtaking the flowers? What flowers were blooming in your garden during summer’s solstice?

And one final question for you Dunbar experts out there. I read his poem online and have seen both “pinety” and “piney.” Can any of you save me a trip to the library to find out which word he actually used?

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