Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Blossoms of August in the Prayer Garden

I enjoy the cooler evenings as fall approaches – the evening dew seems heavier this time of year as it settles on the soft and delicate flowers and leaves. I also enjoy watching parents as they bring their young children down by the stream to catch a frog, possibly the same one that another child delightfully caught just the day before. And I enjoy the rainbows of August, totally unscheduled events that catch the promising rays of the sun as a sudden shower leaves the area.

Most of the flowers in the Gethsemane Prayer Garden are perennials yet there is one annual, the cosmos, whose self-seeding effect gives the appearance of a perennial. The profusion of pure white, soft pink, ruby red and deep crimson blossoms peak in August, although many first opened in late June or sometime in July. If you sit quietly, you may see a brightly colored yellow goldfinch hop from branch to branch of the cosmos, eating a few seeds and scattering the rest.

I also enjoy showing the garden visitor the purple-blue anise hyssop flowers as they reach out with an invitation to smell its refreshing fragrance. "Crush the leaves as you breathe it in," I suggest. "See if you can identify what it smells like."

We also have a large collection of Russian sage in this garden, bluish-purple flowers with sprays and sprays of color. Again I encourage the garden visitor to squeeze a few leaves as we then move on to other plants such as lavender, cat mint and thyme.

To me, the Japanese anemone is the August show-stopper in the garden. Hundreds and hundreds of softly-hued pinkish-lavender blossoms prolifically fill one larger area. Although most people cannot detect a fragrance from these elegant flowers, the honey bees may be seen enthusiastically flitting from blossom to blossom, totally oblivious to people nearby.

Japanese anemone

Purple coneflowers continue their simple yet multitudinous blossoming in many areas throughout the garden in August. By the end of August, many will have lost their color so we clip off the old dead heads to prevent many new plants from sprouting.

This garden is heavily dependent on a large force of volunteers – some years we have more than others. When we have enough people, we try to trim the spirea so that they can get a second or even a third period of flowering. We have a dozen or so in the garden ranging from white to soft pink to vibrant red, and they are truly beautiful while in blossom.

For more information, see Photo gallery of Gethsemane Prayer Garden: August's blossoms

End Note: The overall theme for this series of articles is flowers and plants, showing how they point to love. Sometimes I write 'how to' do something, other times the emphasis is a status update, or the article will be about how a plant or flower touched my heart. All of these writings are based on plants from the Gethsemane Prayer Garden in Syracuse, NY. Please consider some of the other blog articles: Index of Articles About the Gethsemane Prayer Garden.