Overpowering Summer

benchIt’s like a fire burning, the heat changes the perception of colours, decreases the speed of every movement, turns away every sound except that repetitive, dry click of some balm cricket hidden God only knows where. Summer is here. Strong, bold, hot and suddenly dry.


I am at home and sick, my skin is burning too: I got shingles on my upper leg which is making even walking pretty difficult, since it hits the nerves, other than the rash.

echinaceaIt’s been a while since I had the chance to stop and observe the garden. Where have all my roses gone?! What happened to those echinaceas? Bees are moving from flower to flower, wasps, flies: from a short distance everything looks still, although on a closer look there is frantic movement.

gravelgarden2Good news is Great tits have returned to the old wooden nest box and I reckon they are having a second brood. Ale told me that it was possible, when the season is good they might have more than one litter. I guess it’s the same couple since only a few weeks ago the first chicks were leaving the nest. I’m glad they came back.

hordeumWeeds are taking over, I’m officially worried about it now. The problem is not only weeds but also all those cute seedlings I didn’t have the heart of pulling away at the time: Now they are taking over the gravel garden, there are hordeum and centranthus growing everywhere, and dipsacus taller than 2 meters, and echinacea seedlings chocking their parents…




50 thoughts on “Overpowering Summer

  1. Hi Alberto,

    Sorry to hear you have shingles; I hope you get better soon! I hear it’s really quite bad if you get it as an adult. I had it as a child and the doctor was most excited to see it as he’d never before! 🙂

    Please send us some more of your heat, it’s been a bit cooler for the past few days now but due to reach 25 in the coming days… Actually I can’t complain as actually the weather has been fine for the past month or two now.

    Beautiful photos, wish Echinacea would reseed everywhere for me. They never have and I usually lose them.

    • Hi Liz! If you happen to see that doctor, please tell him I can pass him my shingles so that he can watch it closely whenever he wants!
      As for the heat, believe me, I’d switch back to your 25 rather than our nearly 35 (and all of a sudden!). Temps are due to low down by next week though and I hope it so badly.

      I had issues with echinacea pallida and some particular cultivars but all the ‘plain’ pink ones reseed almost weedily!

  2. Yeesh, sorry about the shingles. Don’t worry about the garden until you feel better. Love the grasses in your photos. It has finally turned really warm here, but not like you are experiencing.

  3. Poor you, Alberto! Shingles is horrible. Your garden looks soooooooooooo different, OK so you took the photos in the heat of the day but seriously I think your garden is hotter than mine just at present. I walked arounf this evening and SUDDENLY the borders I irrigate need water now . well probably very early tomorrow morning then I check the tubes haven’t burst and switch it to come on regularly (twice a week, during the night). All your grasses and Monarda look wonderful in the heat, I need to grow some Monarda, I don’t know why I never have. Get well soon, Christina

    • Hi Christina, note that the pictures have all been processed using Photoshop to ‘heat’ them up on purpose! Anyway temps are touching 35 degrees here, so it’s really hot and the real problem is this heat came all of a sudden, without giving the body a chance to get used of it.
      There aren’t any monardas in the pictures, I have a couple of plants but they are quite behind and covered in mildew, that’s always the way monarda ends up in my garden, such a pity since I like it a lot!

  4. Alberto, I can feel the heat and the weather men say it is coming our way!
    So sorry to hear about your shingles, that’s no joke, my husband had it a while ago and it was nasty while it lasted.
    Your echinacea seem to be coping with the heat well, I can imagine all the sounds of the insects as they go about their business, reminds me of holidays spent in the Med!

    • You shall see what’s buzzing around the hypericum bush (the one pictured in the header and behind the fountain and bench on the first picture), it seems all the bees of the world are there!
      I guess (and wish, for your own good) that although the heat wave is coming your way you won’t experience the same temps we are having here but that’s positive.

  5. Alberto I am sorry you are sick and that is a nasty sickness….stay well my friend…your pictures are incredible and evoke a hot dry summer….it is warm, humid and wet here…they say our summer temps will start on Fri for the 1st day of our official summer….but I think it will be a wet one with lots of mosquitoes and weeds. The weeds and seedlings can be taken care of later. Take care of yourself.

    • Thing is I’ve been telling myself I can take care of he weeds later for far too long now but hey, we can’t be slaves of the weeds, right? Shingles is getting better, thank you.

    • Hi doc, do you know anything about great tits? could they have a second brood? You are my personal bird advisor, you know. I hope the chicks can cope with the heat inside that nest…

      • I’m afraid my knowledge of birds is more or less confined to the 20+ kinds that visit our feeder! As far as I know, there aren’t any Great Tits where I live (they’re not listed in my field guide, Birds of North America). But I did some looking online and, yes, apparently they do raise two broods per year.

  6. Dear Alberto
    Shingles suck. But not for long. I hope you have the 5 times a day meds plus pain relief. Mr O had this illness recently so I know… It’s like flu without the fever but all the discomfort. I just wish I could make you a mint julep with bourbon whiskey because that might cure anything. Anyway f the weeds and garden work, it will wait, just rest and rest and feel better soon. xo L

    • Still waiting for that mint bourbon thing here! You might be looking for some actual potato to crush the mint, right?
      Shingles has actually nothing to do with flu, at least in my case, it feels more like boiling oil spilt over your leg and I’m taking 3 times a day meds with no pain killer, although doc gave me the prescription for it. Pain peak lasted only two days and today I’m back to work as usual. I suffer more for this heat to be honest…

    • David! I thought you got lost in some pub in Poland! But here you are… wishing for more alcohol… should we start worrying? 🙂
      Getting well, by the way, thank you!

  7. Those are amazing images. One can almost feel the summer heat from the hues and lighting you used.
    I’m sorry to hear about your shingles and wish you feel better soon.

    • Hi and welcome Bom! Thank you, I’m getting well already. I’m glad pictures give the impression of heat, that’s what I aimed for, when I processed them.

  8. So sorry about the shingles! I know that is very painful! Your images are beautiful but are a good reflection of the summer doldrums. Here we are hot, stale, sultry. Already I am thinking of fall!

    • Sultry here, as well, as if heat wasn’t enough!! I wish I have all the beautiful shadow you have amongst
      the trees in your garden. Actually i’m thinking of fall too! 🙂 We are never happy, are we?

  9. Hey Alb! Tornato a casa da poco…e che caldo….belle ste foto con effetto “evocativo” misto heat-wave /bucolico-mediterraneo…ahah
    Stammi ben

      • Hey Alb!
        Si sicuro mi farebbe piacere venire a trovarti, la prossima settimana parto x gli USA, sarò via x 3 settimane ma quando torno mi faccio vivo…..ciao e buona estate 😉

  10. Well, Alberto, if you are in search of coolness and rain, you know where to come! That said, we haven’t had any rain to speak of for three weeks, but it’s coming back in large quantities over the w/e.

  11. I hope you get to feeling better. I’ve known several people that have gotten shingles – it is a terrible thing! I know what you mean about suddenly everything is hot and dry. It seems that way here, too. I guess summer has officially arrived. It’s not as shy as our spring was this year!

    • Hi Holley, I’m better now, thank you. Seasons are so mixed up I wouldn’t be surprised to look out of the window and see the cherry in bloom and some fall leaves just a moment later… crazy crazy.

  12. I glad you are beginning to feel better with the shingles. I like the effect you have added to your photos it does make it feel all dried out. We have a gravel garden too and find it difficult to remove the seedlings. Plants seem to seed so well, I wish that happened sometimes elsewhere in the garden. I had never come across ‘Stitch in time’, as a child ,it looks so good I have ordered a copy.
    Sarah x

    • Well, to be honest that book didn’t leave me a strong mark, although I like the way she writes, I might give her another chance with a book maybe dealing with grown ups this time. I hope you’ll like it though, maybe it’s more of a ‘girl’ book.

  13. Alberto, glad to hear you are getting over the shingles, Myra had this a while back she was very ill with it and it was two years before it cleared up. Love your echinacea, I am trying them in pots this year, they seem to be coming on fine. Ah, I see you were teasing regarding a litter of great tits, I was imagining them meowing.

    • Two years? Alistair, seriously, why you are always threatening me? I still feel a little pain to nerves but bruises are getting well, although I guess I’ll carry scars… Well, who cares? I didn’t have the age for micro skirts anyway.

      Are you maybe teasing me with those birds meowing? You know I had a brood of cats chirping, right?

    • I guess that OUCH is just the perfect resumè of all the long description wikipedia makes about shingles. It’s getting better nowadays, although I think I’m going to suffer this nerve pain for a while longer. Those bruises are gone now.

  14. Sorry to hear you have shingles. Never had them myself but everyone who has had them say how painful they are. In Ireland if you get shingles as well as attending the doctor people usually go to a “quack” , someone who has the cure. It’s passed on from 7th son to 7th son. They say some prayers and prick their finger and put their blood on you I believe. Hope you’re better soon.

    • Hi Bridget, sorry I haven’t reply to your comment yet! There’s a similar ‘ritual’ that certain people do to you when you have shingles also here in Italy but honestly I’m not a believer… Anyway I’m feeling very good now, the nerve pain wasn’t so unbearable and scar reduced to almost nothing.

  15. Alberto, I do hope you’re feeling better. Shingles are painful — I speak from experience. What I find so interesting about your post is that your photos do an incredible job of capturing the heat wave we’re experiencing in the States. Great work — and stay cool!

    • Heat got even worse lately, not to speak of drought… On the other side, shingles have gone now and honestly it wasn’t as painful as people told me, maybe I got a milder form of it, or maybe I got more manly… nah, I’d stick with the milder form.

  16. Ciao Alberto, the most followed case of shingles in gardening history! That really makes you famous – I am jealous of your roses, without a scratch on them!
    The temperature here is ideal, hope it lasts!

    • Ciao Sabi, good to know I’ve set a record in gardening history, in a way or another! 🙂
      I bet I would be jealous of YOUR roses now, mine have dropped most of their leaves because of heat, drought and moles… Situation is quite desperate at the moment… I hope it changes.

  17. Alberto – Glad to read your shingles is better. We have a heat-wave too, luckily recently it’s been raining at night. I can feel the heat from your photos, there’s beauty in the dry, blondness of the plants.

  18. Sorry to hear you haven’t been well I understand that Shingles is very painful.
    The recompense is your garden, and your hard work, planning and knowledge is really paying off, the garden is looking stunning!

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