Who Needs Vegetables When There Are Flowers?

Backyard flowers; bee balm and daylilies

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In late summer, weeds are abundant and thriving in my vegetable garden. The intended vegetable plants have not been so lucky; the ones that survived the temporary indulgence of the chickens are now in danger of being choked out by weeds. It’s been a busy summer, and demands of family and work have prevented me from spending as much time in the garden as I’d like.

A few hours of weeding this afternoon took care of the worst of it, but I’m afraid the damage may have been done. The weeds have grown faster and sometimes taller than the other plants and consumed a greater share of the light, water and nutrients in the process. I’m worried that some of the less vigorous plants will not be able to catch up.

But then, the flowers! Just look at the flowers. Multicolored day lilies, spiky red bee balm, shasta daisies, hostas and lovely single hollyhocks. And the bees and hummingbirds that follow. We don’t put out hummingbird feeders, but the birds are still a constant presence when the flowers are in bloom. July is certainly the most beautiful time of year in the backyard.

Years ago, before the arrival of kids,  I planted loads of perennial flowers (the ones that come up year after year). I spent leisurely afternoons dividing and placing plants, and in the fall, planting dozens of bulbs. A cluster of roots from my parents’ flower garden, from friends and relatives, from the roadside–all planted with care and faithfully divided and spread. The result, years later, is masses of flowers that need little or no care. What luck! I now have a gorgeous backyard. I suppose this helps soften the disappointment of the garden this year.

I wonder about the pole beans and the summer squash; the seem dreadfully behinds schedule. The kids probably wouldn’t eat them anyway, but I’m rooting for them! But even if there were no vegetables, no tomatoes or cucumbers or lettuce, you can bet I’ll get every bit of enjoyment out of those flowers.

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