I had high hopes for the garden this season, but was challenged by frequent rains in the spring and VERY hot weather this summer. I successfully planted a lilac and two phlox, but 6 hens and chickens died, and the lavender I bought I didn't get into the ground in time. I hope to do some more planting this fall--it is obviously going to be a multi-year project!
However, the big surprise of the summer was the fact that I have a prolific peach tree. I knew it was a fruit tree of some kind, but I assumed it was an ornamental--it had no visible fruit last year, and I just figured I would get beautiful spring blossoms and a nice tree and that would be that. So imagine my astonishment when I came back from an early August vacation to find rosy-hued peaches all over the tree! It looked like one of those crayon pictures of fruit trees that little kids draw--a big ball of green with glowing fruit all over it.
I do have a hard time keeping up with the birds for getting the peaches at the precise point of ripeness. Unlike some other fruits (apples for example), peaches stop ripening when you pick them--they only soften. So you can't pick them too early (one of the reasons why supermarket peaches often don't taste that good--they weren't allowed to ripen fully). Every day I go out and pick the ripe peaches, but the birds have a knack for finding lots to snack on. I probably throw out 20 a day or more that I pick off the ground in varying states of deterioration.
I've discovered that about twelve peaches (peeled, pitted, sliced, and syruped) fill a quart Ziploc bag--what fun to have this fruit of summer packed away in the freezer for a winter treat! (I got all my tips about picking and freezing peaches from the "Pick Your Own" web site.)
Meanwhile the apple tree is also being incredibly productive--as well as shedding apples like crazy (the best of which I'm trying to ripen indoors in a brown paper bag).
In the apple ground photo below you can also see my two phlox plants--one on either side of the apple tree--I'm just so pleased they're not dead!