While the whole rest of the world is swimming and–if the activity outside my window at 2 am is to be trusted–drinking copious quantities of beer, I am working very hard in the garden.
Here's what I like about July. It follows April, when the gardeners in my part of the world anxiously watch the weather and fret, Can I start gardening now? Can I? Can I?
It follows May, which begins with endless back-building wheelbarrow work, as mulch and compost are spread, and ends with a huge planting push.
It also follows June, when the gardener corrects all mistakes made in May, rethinks what vegetables she might want to use in some recipe or other, crams in more crops, and replants in the wake of cut-worm devastation.
In July, however, the mind and the wallet clear. I am finally free to have a look at my ornamental beds, to make executive decisions involving Swedish bowsaw–that sprawling holly that's been annoying me for 8 years is finally slated for execution–and to shop.
The nurseries are now empty, as the rest of the world pursues swimming and beer. They get a little desperate and slash prices. I just bought currants and gooseberries at two for $10. I just bought a bunch of dahlias for $1 each and blue gladioli for even less. Under ordinary circumstances, gladioli are annoying because they keel over in the garden, but aren't really tall enough to justify staking. But at a dozen for $1.50, who cares?
As things get cheaper, I get more experimental and come home with all kinds of unneeded shrubs and perennials, some of which will work and some of which will develop heat stroke and expire.
Only in July am I really free as a gardener. By August, the vegetable garden will be generating so much that I'll been intensely focused on cooking. But right now, I am as light as a feather. Maybe it's the beer.