IMG_3126We received bad news on Zoe this week. She initially rallied on steroids but then did not continue to improve. After further tests, it appears that she does have a fast-moving cancer. So, we are staying close to home to keep our sweet girl company, just as she has kept us company throughout her life. She remains happy, although she is getting weaker and less mobile.  IMG_3188As we come to grips with the bad news, our whole property is pulsing with midsummer life. The bees were coming in so laden with deep yellow pollen last week that they looked as though they would miss their landings. IMG_2649I traced the bees to the staghorn sumac, which was in full bloom and bursting with pollen. IMG_2730We have several varieties of sumac on our hillside, but the bees were ignoring all but the male staghorn blossoms.


Close up of red sumac blossom, with no bees in sight.


The plentiful hairs on this bee indicate that she is relatively young. The hairs will wear off as the bee ages.  She’s in the staghorn blossoms here and has pollen even on her rear hairs.

After the sumac flow slowed, the bees were driven to a frenzy by our Flemish Antique poppies. Each poppy only lasts a day and every morning they were mobbed with wild and honey bees frantically gathering nectar and stripping the pollen. I have never seen anything like it.IMG_3066Our borage, in comparison, was almost deserted. IMG_3110.jpgIMG_2939.jpgAnd the bees were much less interested in our small jelly bean poppies. IMG_2896All the pollinators have been on the wild milkweed, however, which has been spectacularly lush and sweetly fragrant this year.IMG_3172IMG_2841.jpg

IMG_3138.jpgOur yard has been alive with butterflies, moths, bumblebees, sweat bees, unidentified wild bees, wasps, and moths. IMG_2785.jpgIMG_3145.jpg

IMG_2877IMG_2936IMG_2988IMG_3029IMG_2812But, our baby swallows are gone.  After entertaining us for days, we watched them leave the nest one by one. It was such a thrill to see their first flights.  We still have swallows and bluebirds in the yard, so apparently they like it here.IMG_2446.jpgIMG_2463

Although the weather has been extremely dry, we have had enough rain to keep most of our vegetables coming along nicely. We are harvesting peas, lettuce, early potatoes, baby onions, collards, kale, carrots, and lots of herbs. IMG_3112

I had to pull out some cabbage being chewed by pesky cabbage worms. The cabbage moths continue to hover over all the brassicas, so I will harvest them soon and then put in a new, unmolested, bed for fall harvest and cover it with agribon fabric to keep the moths out.

Our goldfinches turned out to be unexpected garden marauders.  They have been dining on the rainbow chard. They are not eating bugs or worms, but the chard itself. Goldfinches generally eat seeds, so I’m wondering if they sought moisture from the chard leaves in our recent dry spell.IMG_3025.jpg

Our wild apples are plumping up and looking less disease and pest-ridden than last year. We did some pruning in the spring to cull out branches and let in more light and air. It appears to have improved the apples.IMG_2766

And so, life goes on.IMG_2516.jpgIMG_2567.jpg


Lupine pods.


36 thoughts on “Midsummer

  1. So sad to read about Zoe’s downturn and sorry that she is suffering this terrible foe. I feel for you both.
    But the garden is certainly bursting with life. Your photos show its vitality so well!

    • I appreciate your kind thoughts Eliza. Before Zoe, we had four golden retrievers, all of whom died of cancer. So, we’ve been down this path before. Fortunately, Zoe is not in pain now and once her quality of life worsens, we are able to make sure that she doesn’t suffer. Still, it’s difficult to see her fade. The contrast of the incredible abundance of life all around us, while hers winds down, has a bittersweet tinge, but mostly helps put things in perspective.

    • Mostly she’s enjoying food now! The steroids increased her already prodigious appetite. We’re keeping her well fed with favorites. We thought Zoe was going to die a few weeks ago, so we appreciate that we have a little extra time with her.

  2. So sorry to hear about Zoe. A friend of mine just lost their 17 year old weimaraner and I mourn with her as she did with me several years back when we lost beloved dogs. All we can do is hope we brought them even close to as much love and happiness as they brought us.

    On a happier note, beautiful photos as always. I hope the rain we got last last gave your gardens a good drink too. We needed the rain but I for one could do without the muggy weather. Do bees like humidity?

    • Thanks. You’re right about the love and happiness. Dogs are such amazing companions.
      We did get a pretty good soaking last week and yesterday. Today we’re enveloped in fog. The garden’s happy, but I’m with you on the humidity. Not sure on the bees, but Zoe sure hates heat and humidity.

    • It’s nice to have all this exuberant life around us as hers is winding down. And perhaps a good distraction once she’s gone. It has been about twenty-five years since we have been without a dog.

  3. I am so sorry to hear about Zoe’s illness. She has been such a wonderful companion for you over the years. You are in such a lovely place, it will be a comfort to her.

  4. My condolences on your bad news about Zoe. I hope you are finding that all the fullness of your life in your garden provides some balance to the bad news. The bee magnets in my garden right now are the tall coral bells (which the ruby throated hummingbirds also visit regularly) and the lavender. My milkweed, too, has been more lush and fragrant this year. I was happy to see more than an inch of needed rainfall in my neighborhood early this morning, with more predicted for tomorrow.

    • Thank you Jean. I have a few rogue milkweeds in my perennial bed and their fragrance infused the whole backyard. This rain has been so welcome. It is all drippy fog this morning and so nice not to have to water.

  5. So, so, sorry about Zoe. Oh, how we love those dog buddies, and when they pass it breaks our hearts. My thoughts are with you, especially as we, too, have an old dog who is having difficulties. Dogs just don’t live long enough. Sigh.

    • Thanks so much Laurie. Dogs are a wonder. And much too short-lived. Zoe is our empty-nest dog and constant companion so it will be especially heart wrenching to lose her. Sigh. Please give Liam a big hug for me.

  6. What a beautiful post, Brenda. I’m very sad to hear about Zoe. It’s good she has you to love her and a wonderful place to end her days. Your photos are outstanding and I’m glad you are taking comfort in the exuberance around you (those bees!). Sending you all good wishes for the days ahead. Sam x

  7. I am sorry to hear Zoe is not doing well. Anyone who has had a beloved pet understand what you are going through and feels for you. It is good that everything else around you is busting out all over and keeps you moving forward. I love hearing about the bees. Best to Zoe.

  8. I’m terribly sorry about Zoe. I feel so very sad for you. I know, though, that she’s getting all your love and care.
    There is so much beauty around you on your property and I hope that helps, a little. It is fascinating to see what your bees are interested in. Lovely to see the butterflies, too and to read about your harvest of fresh vegetables.

  9. Ahhhh, what heartbreaking news. I know how attached we become to our beloved pets, I’m so glad she has you, she is obviously in loving hands.It is such a hard time though, I shall be thinking of you.
    I loved all of your pictures, especially the swallow chicks, what stunning photos.xxx

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