This year, more than any other, the analogy of a parade patterns my thoughts of summer in the garden. Parades begin with a showy piece, like the bright daffodils and tulips of spring, before the main event. Often there are gaps in the parade while the music and beauty from one show fades before the other comes into full swing. In May the peonies delight with their ruffled creamy petals of palest pink and deep crimson. Purple, pink and yellow irises follow. Then, we wait for the roses of June, whose first velvet blossoms swell our hearts with loveliness. We bury our noses in their intricate whorls and inhale deeply. Like the music that trails behind the marching band, the rose fragrance lingers in memory, sweetness preserved for darker days.
Soon then, marching one right after the other, sometimes joining in a combination piece, come the delphiniums, the lavender and marigolds, the lilies. Hydrangeas join in; fat mops of blue and purple swell the garden with lavish color. Somewhere along the line the lupins, the foxgloves and cosmos join in, swinging into formation to heighten the excitement. Fast on their heels follow hollyhocks, standing straight as soldiers proudly bearing medals with colored ribbons.
Then come the dahlias - from deepest burgundy to ivory white and every shade in between, striped, ruffled, dinner plate, daisy - their variety is endless and their performance goes on long until the first frost, months from now. A quieter show, offering a pause in the music of the parade, is given by the phlox, green spires topped by white in my garden. Sometimes, delphiniums play a coda and show up once more in late summer, along with a second flush of lavender.
Like a parade, this summer will end. The colors will fade, the sere blossoms will fall to the ground, green stems will wither. But now, in these days when summer is high and rich, I gather to myself all the fullness of my garden, storing scents and colors in my mind against days to come.