Before long, you may be tempted to let the dust settle on your porch furniture. Give up tending your window boxes. Trade nights under the stars for sofa sessions in front of the TV.
Then, again, you can embrace late summer around the house – and even stretch it out some.
Putting up peaches, enjoying long- or late-blooming plants in a garden or simply buying a bunch of fresh-cut sunflowers for the kitchen table are ways to appreciate these August days, before you’re even thinking about decorating with pumpkins and corn stalks.
At the Town of Tonawanda garden of Linda and Brian Blyth, Achillea (yarrow), phlox, hydrangeas, Wave Petunias, coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, anemones and asters are looking good, noted Linda Blyth, who speaks to garden groups about late-blooming perennials and keeping color in the garden spring, summer and fall.
But the Blyths have another way of extending the season in their backyard: a 12-by-16-foot wood structure built by Brian. They call it Casa Loca, or “crazy house” in Spanish. They use it as long as they can now and into the fall, enjoying morning coffee and dinners with views of their extensive gardens.
“We even have a microwave and refrigerator back there,” Linda said.
No backyard retreat? What people can do, too, is begin to freshen up window boxes and container pots when they need it. Keep foliage that’s still in good shape but replace any wilted flowers with fall flowers such as mums or other cold-loving plants (read labels; seek advice at your favorite nursery). Or bring in a new fall planter in the coming weeks; buy one from a greenhouse or put it together yourself. Ornamental kale, ornamental grasses suited to containers, mums, Heuchera and asters are just a few options.
Preserving the summer harvest also can be truly satisfying this time of year.
Whether you grow your own produce or buy it from a market, preserving it not only feels like summer, it also lets you enjoy a bit of it for months to come.
Start small. Guidance is everywhere, whether you’re canning, freezing or otherwise preserving. The “Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving: 400 Delicious and Creative Recipes for Today,” edited by Judi Kingry and Lauren Devine (Robert Rose, $22.95 paperback) is one book to consider.
Williams-Sonoma has a “Guide to Preserving” on its website, www.williams-sonoma.com.
Wegmans is offering “Canning 101: Preserving the Season’s Best – Tomatoes” demonstrations from 6 to 7 p.m. three different days: Thursday, Aug. 26 and Sept. 12 at its store at 5275 Sheridan Drive, Amherst. The cost is $5. Read more at www.wegmans.com. For reservations, call 631-4370.
And Tops Cooking School in Amherst and West Seneca will be offering classes on utilizing your fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables. See www.topsmarkets.com; click on departments for cooking school schedule.
Three other ideas:
• Embrace the colors: Buy fresh flowers at a market and place on your kitchen table or porch. Think golden yellows, purples and oranges. Keep it simple yet beautiful. “Put blue hydrangea, sunflowers and orange or red dahlias in any standard vase you have or in a piece of pottery you bought at the Allentown Art Festival” – or at next weekend’s Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts, suggested Maureen Bartley, from Maureen’s Buffalo Wholesale Flower Market, 441 Ellicott St.
Pick up the colors in table linens or kitchen towels. It might even inspire a new decorating palette.
• Warm up your outdoor space: Patio heaters or fire pits – used properly – can keep you enjoying the fresh air even on cool nights. This time of year you might even find one on sale. Or consider moving your outdoor furniture around in a cozier arrangement, just as you sometimes do in your living room. Then, invite people over for some homemade corn chowder.
• Keep an eye on the sky: Cool evenings and clear skies are a great time to discover stargazing – with or without a telescope or binoculars. One website to get you started: www.skyandtelescope.com. Once on the website, the “This Week’s Sky at a Glance,” with day-by-day highlights, is sure to get you hooked. A suggestion for today’s date: “Look below the Moon tonight and tomorrow night for the Sagittarius Teapot” star pattern.
Also remember that The Buffalo News prints SkyWatch every day on the Weather page, which notes such facts as the next full moon.