The August kitchen garden overflows with rambling squash vines, stretching corn stalks, climbing pole beans, branching eggplants, all pushing outward and upward, obscuring the edges of beds, running up and over trellis supports, pushing the sides of hoop houses. The late summer harvest is still some weeks away but the coming abundance is visible everywhere, especially in the blossoms that layer their colors over the green of the foliage: yellow trumpets of winter squash, pink and white bean blossoms, pale silk of corncobs, lavender flowers of eggplant. There’s anticipation of wonderful meals ahead but on early morning strolls through the garden the immediate pleasure is simply the beauty of the blooming plants.
By this time of year, sprawling winter squash vines have made their way into and through the neighboring rows of corn, weaving the beds together, mixing blossoms and silks. Pole beans climb their assigned strings but reach out to other strings too, sometimes leaping across the trellis from one side to the other, tangling colors. Only the eggplant flowers stay put, close to the stalk.
Winter Squash Blossoms
Bonds Orcas Lima blossoms
Perennial herbs anise hyssop and sage bloom in the same spot each August, their purple spikes tall against the green, but the location of annual dill is always a surprise, no doubt because I let it go to seed, curious to see where it will turn up the next year. The yellow umbels rise like bursts of fireworks across the garden landscape.
And finally there are the traditional flowers, gloriosa daisies (Rudbeckia gloriosa) and nasturtiums that return each summer with just a little help from me. Years ago, I planted seeds of both. Vigorous self-seeders like the dill, they reappear in the spring and I let them grow. I’ll often transplant the daisy volunteers to irrigation emitters at the ends of beds but just as often I’ll simply leave them to thrive like the nasturtiums where they will. I love their strong colors: the yellows, oranges, rusts and blacks of the rudbeckias and the oranges, reds and yellows of the nasturtiums. And I love their contrasting habits: the upright branching rudbeckias dominating a single spot and the spreading nasturtium vines traveling down rows and across beds, adding blossoms other plants’ foliage.
The earliest of the vegetable blossoms have already fallen, giving way to the first swelling squashes and eggplant and to lengthening bean pods. Soon the rest of the vegetable blossoms will give way as well, but for these early weeks of August, these blossoms transform kitchen garden into a glorious bouquet.