This morning, after a few days away, I woke up to my garden to discover that the plants of late June have become the plants of late May. Here, within an hour’s drive of our nation’s northern border, the perennial poppies are finishing up. The daisies are entering their peak. Irises are in their prime. Purple coneflowers are setting their buds.
The buds you see here are from a day lily in front of my house. They weren’t there at all four days ago, but now they’re plump, ready to burst open. I can see some other stalks where the deer have already come by and nipped off other ripe buds, or perhaps even open flowers.
It isn’t just that garden flowers are coming a month earlier than usual. They’re also going through their reproductive cycles quicker than usual. The flowers that come are brief in the heat. It makes me wonder what the second half of the summer will be like, whether the perennials will simply be done, or will attempt a second season.
As if to mirror the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico down in the south, we’ve been having massive heat spills in the north, with several waves of extraordinary heat since March, when we were able to go swimming in streams still swollen with the snowmelt. It’s reached the 90s several times since the beginning of April.
Some garden plants seem to be adapting well, simply growing faster. Others, however, are showing signs of profound stress, with foliage that’s thin and wilting, having been asked to do the job of summer without having had a cool period in which to grow strong.