Poor Will’s Almanack for the last week of early summer.
At the end of early summer, the days are the longest of the year, and mulberries and black raspberries are sweetest. Milkweed beetles look for milkweed flowers on the longest days; giant cecropia moths emerge. The first monarch butterfly caterpillars eat the carrot tops.
Damselflies and daddy longlegs are everywhere when black raspberries come in. Mosquitoes, chiggers, and ticks have reached their summer strength. Giant black cricket hunters hunt crickets in the garden.
Two out of three parsnips, angelicas, and hemlocks are going to seed. Some multiflora roses and Japanese honeysuckles are dropping petals. But wingstem and tall coneflower stalks are five feet high. Virginia creeper is flowering. Canadian thistles and nodding thistles are at their best. Blackberries have set fruit. The very first trumpet vines sport bright red-orange trumpets, and the first Deptford pink and first great mullein come into bloom.
Orchard grass is brown and old, English rye grass full bloom, exotic bottle grass late bloom, brome grass very late, some timothy still tender. More Asiatic lilies are coming in now, first the orange, then the pink. Yellow primroses, foxglove, pink and yellow achillea, late daisies, purple spiderwort and speedwell shine in the garden. All across the nation’s midsection, there are hedges of white elderberry flowers, roadsides of violet crown vetch, great fields of gold and green wheat.
If you follow the Mississippi Valley south, you will find hemlocks and thistles all gone to seed near St. Louis, teasel twice as tall as it is in Chicago. Sweet clover has almost disappeared by Memphis, and the blackberries are turning a little red. In the Deep South, Queen Anne's lace blooms, wild lettuce and horseweed too, and elderberries set their fruit.
The wheat fields are bare in the Gulf States, the roadsides full of black-eyed Susans, pennywort, thin-leafed mountain mint and Mexican hat. Deep in Central America, the sugar cane crop paces the sweet corn in Iowa.
This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Miami Valley Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the first week of middle summer. In the meantime, look for sycamore park to peel and fall, a certain sign of July’s approach.