Monday, July 25, 2011

The "Zinnia" Days of Summer

Here we are, it seems, just barely making it through these "Dogs Days of Summer," the period of time between the beginning of July and the end of August, when the most sultry of days occur in the northern hemisphere, and what appears to be most especially Northern Virginia these last few days  Who can argue against the notion that these hottest and most humid of summer days are marked by lethargy, inactivity and, dare I say it,  indolence?  Well, maybe those who love an over-abundance of crab grass now thriving in our stressed-out lawns and garden beds might argue against lethargy but, indolence?...Never!

Since lavender, here at Blooming Hill, has left the building, in a manner of speaking, and I am finally past the harvest, life is settling down to a slower rhythm from an almost frenetic pace of cutting and bundling. And, although the night sky dog star, Sirius, rises and sets along with the blazing sun--thus, the ancient legend of "Dog Days" somehow came about--I can now turn my attention to other floral works of art created by nature and one of the most resilient of these floral pieces of artistry in the high summer garden is the zinnia...favorites of mine.  

Why?...Because these big and small and very prolific and colorful bloomers seem to defy the weather with almost disarming innocence.  Yes, there are other blooming beauties out there like coneflower, vinca, Russian Sage and Black-eyed Susan's.  However, their names just don't seem to roll off of the tongue as easily.  And while petunias and geraniums seem to possess a musical lilt, they--even the so-called super ones--are looking a bit long in the tooth as of late. It's the zesty zinnias that own this weather, making them the jewels of the garden this time of year.

In the language of flowers, the zinnia's general meaning refers to "thoughts of absent friends" probably because of their affable, welcoming nature and their sturdiness against the harsh heat that often tries to shoo them away, as heat tends to do to so many other garden beauties like the the carefree bee balm or those opulent May peonies.  Even the lovely rose presently seems to be fading on the bush while morning glories are still catching their last few winks of beauty sleep before they rise to greet the summer.

Zinnias love the garden lifestyle assigned to them by nature...bugs, deer and lack of water do not deter them and they love to crowd together enforcing the notion of the more the merrier!  If the gardener is careful when watering, zinnias will resist mildewy and wilting leaves.  I find zinnias to be, at this time of year, the simple abundance of the summer flower garden  even while they share the limelight with their neighbors the sunflowers, cosmos, Queen Ann's Lace and the like.
So, lets all hail the wonderful, friendly and resilient zinnia for their grace under heated pressure and their sturdy ability to remain always lovely.  Dog Days...indeed!  Let's embrace this heat and call it  Zinnia Days and we might all feel just a little bit better about this weather. I don't think the dogs will you?!

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