Having just turned to the September pages of our household calendars, I am reminded that cooler fall weather is not far off. What’s also not far off for me is a week-long trip to California. Out of town trips often spur me to tidy up around the house and garden, taking care of chores I’ve been putting off. The logic behind this frenzy of activity is once I have returned, the last thing I want to greet my tired eyes is a long To-Do List.
In keeping with these trip preparation urges, I’ve been out in the garden clipping and tidying my garden. Several herbs have grown to full height and are now in that untidy post-blooming stage. One was my lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), shown here after being trimmed. This is one herb that benefits from being cut to only a few inches tall. Notice the new growth showing up after only one week.
Next up for trimming was my southernwood (Artemisia abrotanum). As this member of the artemisia family grows, the upper growth shades the lower leaves and they die, leaving an unsightly mess. A quick trim will provide branches to dry for potpourri and stimulate new growth in the coming months.
While out in the garden I noticed my garlic chives (Allium tuberosum)were just beginning to send up their late summer flower stalks. These show up every year right around Labor Day. The white flower heads become so heavy that when in full bloom they bend over toward the front of the garden. If left to themselves, the flowers will be fertilized and spread jet black seeds around the garden. For those of you who don’t want volunteer garlic chives next year, clip the flowers before the seed heads yellow and dry.
Just as I was finishing my garden tidy-up I noticed my Texas tarragon (aka Mexican Mint marigold) beginning to divide at the tips in preparation for its late fall blooms. Look closely at the center stems and you’ll see how they are more dense than the stems to the right. This is the beginning of the flower heads that will show up around Thanksgiving.
All in all, my time in the garden was well-spent. I tidied up enough that when I return in early October, the garden will look respectable. The lemon balm and southernwood will have grown enough for another harvest. The blooms of the garlic chives will be setting seed and drying so that I can clip them and used them for dried arrangements later. The Texas tarragon will have grown another six inches or so and be ready to burst into flower just as the garden nears the growing season. That will put a smile on my travel-weary face.