Coastal California doesn’t experience winter’s worst, so summer in the City doesn’t signal the immense weather change that it does in other places I have lived, like Washington DC and Alaska. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t happy to see the longer, warmer days.
To me, summer in the garden means summer flowers and vegetables, a crazy riot of colors and textures and lots of hungry wildlife in the backyard. All of it thrills me.
Summer in the City
San Francisco summers do not usher in the incredible changes in temperature and plants that the hot season brings to other locales. Our climate in the City by the Bay is marked by the fog, coming in, as Carl Sandburg tells us, on little cat feet. That is every morning and every evening with rare exceptions.
But in summer the sun rises earlier and sets later in this part of the world just like every other. And that means that the two daily fog fests are separated by more daylight hours. It means high temperatures may climb from the 50s and 60s into the high 60s and 70s, and that there is not much call for rain boots or umbrellas.
Summer in the Garden
The earth notices the change of seasons of course, and the garden reacts. First come the weeds, then the native annuals. My flower garden blazes with California poppies that reseed themselves with reckless abandon in autumn. My fruit trees change from their ballerina look of spring blossoms to green canopies and tiny fruits.
I welcome summer to the garden in the same way I welcome house guests to my home: by cleaning. I weed the garden beds, work in compost to the soil, and plant — one more time — the veggies and annuals of summer. I love to watch the tomato vines take over the teepee, the cosmos pushing each other for elbow room and the jasmine blossoms heading up the trellis and filling the patio with their fragrance.
Wildlife in the Backyard
Okay, this is San Francisco, admittedly one of the big urban centers on the West Coast. But the wildlife are equal-opportunity feeders. Hummingbirds buzz in from who knows where, amazingly aggressive for such beautiful, delicate birds. They like the California sage flowers better than my feeders.
Birds of all kinds and sizes visit my bird feeder station in summer, some to eat the sunflower seeds, but many more to drink from the water dish or bath in the bird bath. The Pacific is nearby but salty of course, and the birds seem happy to have a fresh water supply all summer long.
My very favorite thing is the other wildlife — the racoons, skunks, opossums, creatures of the night who sneak in for water (I leave them a big, deep saucerful on the ground, refreshed daily). Somebody always has babies under the patio — last year it was a skunk family — and I love to hear the little scamper of feet outside my window at night. I peer out with a flashlight to try to glimpse a young creature splashing in the water bowl.
Welcome summer, welcome.