I love mid July. The garden bursts into bloom in July. The day lilies are flowering and, if I’ve kept up with the watering, the annuals are at their most lush. I am most surprised at the white dome hydrangeas, though. I had no idea they were fragrant. Last year the blooms were small and few, but this year, both the front and back yard plantings are tall and full of wonderful white lace caps. And bees. And wasps. I found a very large black wasp on one of the front yard white domes. It was at least and inch and a half long, all black, with large wings folded neatly back across its body. It was a Great Black Wasp. They are not aggressive and live in burrows under ground. There were all sorts of other bees and wasps, all nuzzling the pollen in the large lacy domes of tiny flowers. The pollen is so heavy that it drops onto the leaves below the flowers. I hear a wonderful lazy drone when I approach the hydrangeas, pollen songs, I guess. I learned only a few years ago that honey bees are not indigenous to North America and read a speculation that if honey bees were not introduced, we would appreciate other pollinating insects more.

But I also love the day lilies. I especially love the new shades of pink, although I think my favorite is a deep deep red lily that I bought from a woman who has a day lily farm. A friend told me about her several years ago when I still lived in Portland. I bought several plants from her, including the dark red. I wish I had kept the tag because I do not know the name of it. When I moved to Grand Rapids, I took a clump with me and heeled it in that first year. This spring I moved it to the secret garden and it seems to like it there.

This vista of the backyard shows how lush everything has gotten. But the japanese beetles arrived last week. I broke down today and sprayed. They will eat every rose that starts to bud, and the roses are getting ready for their second display. No beetles allowed.

I lost another limb on the cherry tree. This time there was no wind to blame. It fell from the sheer weight of the cherries. I’ve made a couple dozen jars of cherry freezer jam, but I didn’t follow the traditional recipe. I cooked the cherries first, partly to get as much juice out of them as possible, but mostly to sterilize the berries. Though I wash them thoroughly, I wanted to make sure no bird borne bacteria survived. Oddly, the birds do not seem terribly attracted to the tree. A few flit in among the branches and steal a berry or two. I wish more would find their way to the tree. A friend has picked probably 50 pounds of cherries from the tree, and no one would notice. The true red against the deep green leaves is beautiful, but the tree is too old to bear the weight of so much fruit.

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