Horticultural therapyWeather

Summer solstice

Today is the Summer Solstice and everything in the garden is perfect.

In pre-historic times, Summer was a joyous time of the year for those indigenous people who lived in the northern latitudes. The snow had disappeared; the ground had thawed out; warm temperatures had returned; flowers were blooming; leaves had returned to the deciduous trees. Some herbs could be harvested, for medicinal and other uses. Food was easier to find. The crops had already been planted and would be harvested in the months to come. Although many months of warm/hot weather remained before the fall, they noticed that the days were beginning to shorten, so that the return of the cold season was inevitable.

The first (or only) full moon in July⠀is called the Buck Moon (buck deer start growing velvety hair antlers) or the Thunder Moon (emergence of frequent thunderstorms) in New England. July represents the cusp of the cold and warm harvesting seasons, separated by the digging up of garlic (Allium sativum). Early corn (Zea mays) has started to come in and strawberries (Fragaria × ananassa) are on their last legs. The unrelenting heat makes the cold crops of lettuce (Lactuca sativa), peas (Pisum sativum), and radishes (Raphanus sativus) harder to come by and grow. Their absence is more than compensated by increasing quantities of squash (Cucurbita), tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum), fresh herbs and green beans (Phaseolus vulgaris).

Berries help us remember the season’s progression starting with strawberries (Fragaria × ananassa) in the late Spring, blueberries (Cyanococcus) for the early Summer, raspberries (Rubus idaeus) in mid-Summer and blackberries (Rubus) in late Summer. By the time the blackberries are finished, children are ready to go back to school, pools emptied and sandals returned to the closet.

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