When thistles come undone, then middle summer has arrived, and all the middle-summer flowers are in bloom. Purple loosestrife, lizard’s tail, Queen Anne’s lace, purple coneflower, wild petunia, bouncing bet, dayflower, sow thistle, white vervain, dogbane, black-eyed Susan, square-stemmed germander, pokeweed, St. John’s wort, teasel, touch-me-not, lopseed and avens are all blossoming in the woods and fields.
The first of the midsummer hostas and the gayfeather show in the garden as the thistledown unravels. Asiatic lilies enter full bloom. The rose of Sharon and the phlox are getting ready to open. Maroon seedpods have formed on the locusts. Black walnuts are half-size. The bright yellow primroses and spring daisies are in decline, their departure marking the close of black raspberry and mulberry seasons. Green wild cherries hang in clusters. Elderberry bushes and everbearing strawberries are setting fruit. The shade-loving cohosh has its berries.
May's goslings and ducklings are almost grown. Tiny waterstriders hatch in the ponds just as alewives head back to the Atlantic from their estuaries along the East Coast. The behavior of raccoons, opossums and groundhogs becomes erratic in the heat. Young robins, blackbirds and blue jays are haunting ihe honeysuckle bushes eating red and orange berries. Cicadas have emerged (but won’t sing for a week or so). Young great blue herons leave their rookeries. Soon the rough-winged swallows will lead the fall migrations south.
This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the second week of middle summer. In the meantime, if you find just one piece of middle summer, you are connected to all the other pieces.