Summer Solstice

Village view from the cathedral ruins in St. Cirque Lapopie, France

Summer Solstice!  The first day of summer and the longest day of the year.  Lovely memories of a past summer solstice for me, in southern France–and yes they are in our climate zone!!!  From the mountains of gorgeous St. Cirque Lapopie where I watched the midnight sun from the ruins of a cathedral.  Framed with wild hollyhocks growing everywhere up through the stones and all over the limestone mountains, famous for the Lascaux Caves and the terrific novel series by Jean Auel, Clan of the Cave Bear.  You won’t find a more picturesque village.

Interestingly a healing hollyhock tea is mentioned as one of the herbal remedies in Auel’s book for soothing sore throats, wounds and scratches.  The main character, Ayla, was constantly foraging for herbs for her medicine bag.

Hollyhocks are just getting ready to bloom on the day of the current summer solstice — planted from scattered seeds and taller than I’ve ever seen them in my garden, towering just over 6 feet high!  The buds are just forming and starting to unfurl.  I’ll be curious to see just exactly how tall they become in full flower.  The bees that are covering the blooming thyme will easily move to the hollyhock flowers for their food for the rest of the summer.

You’ll often find that perennials grown from seed in  your yard are much hardier than those you plant from the nursery.  Self-sown seeds have to be tougher, and the seed knows just how to deposit itself into the soil where it can survive (and often needs) the winter cold first in order to germinate the following year.

Sunflowers, Marseille, France

Summer solstice hollyhocks provide protection for the fast-growing sunflowers and a backdrop for newly planted tomatoes.  Yes, I plant them all together because the bees, butterflies and birds all share in the germination process of my vegetables and they look awesome all together. Lots of color, different bloom times.

Oh, and the summer blooming milkweed is full of the first beginnings of the monarch on the underside of the leaves–her eggs!  At first I thought it was aphids, but then I learned from one of my podcast guests, Kylee Baumle that the monarch lays upwards of 500 eggs, that THEN become the caterpillars we look for.  So happy that I keep a small batch of milkweed just to watch this process.  From hatching, to caterpillar, to chrysalis is a short period of just 2 weeks.

This 2 week period is the critical time when the caterpillar voraciously eats the milkweed leaves, molting and working its way to adulthood then it stops eating and finds a more protected spot for the chrysalis stage.  As you know, your organic garden is critical to the health and success of these lovely pollinators.  And a diverse garden is the healthiest of all.

Listen to Kylee’s podcast at the link above, and you’ll learn so many important details about the Monarch.

Better health from plants and In sync with nature,

Tova Roseman
Earth Diva

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Tova Roseman
Tova Roseman is a horticulturist, designer, professional speaker and nationally best-selling author. She received two awards for Best Program in the nation for the Garden Talk Line on KOH radio and has been featured on HGTV, Discovery, NBC and ABC television. Tova is well-known for creating lush, organic gardens that are waterwise and pollinator friendly in challenging climates.

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