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Mid-summer: the word brings to mind bright sunshine, fragrant blossoms nodding under the careful attention of graceful butterflies and fuzzy bumblebees, and long days spent enjoying outdoor activities. Perhaps nowhere is this more true than within a garden.
While helping to bring life back to the warming Earth in springtime by planting flowers, herbs and vegetables can be intensely rewarding, a garden in the throes of its colorful, riotous mid-summer glory - whether wild or well-ordered, tiny or massive, suburban or rural - carries a unique charm all its own.
Depending on temperature and precipitation in the preceding months, many favorite garden vegetables - including tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and carrots - are ripe and ready to enjoy come July and August, whether fresh-picked and raw or as part of a delicious main dish, appetizer or side.
Summer is also a popular time for families to visit orchards to pick their own fruits, with raspberry, peach and blueberry season in Illinois typically kicking off in July and apple and pear availability usually beginning in August. Dozens of options for filling baskets with nature’s delectable treats are available within a short drive from Schaumburg, and the Schaumburg Farmer’s Market - which runs every Friday through October, just down the road from Friendship Village - is also a wonderful place to score some fresh-picked favorites!
With the myriad benefits gardening confers, including increasing much-needed Vitamin D intake, engaging the senses, fostering a sense of relaxation and well-being and much more, it’s no wonder so many Friendship Village residents look forward to spending time tending or just visiting the variety- including a butterfly garden and a magical Secret Garden! - on the vibrant retirement community’s nature-filled 60-acre grounds.
Vegetable and flower gardens maintain a perennial appeal, but theme gardens, in which every element supports a specific concept, have also been gaining popularity among enthusiasts looking to try their hand - or green thumb - at expressing their creative side via plants and their environs. Theme gardens can be planted, for instance, to showcase a favorite color palette, give a nod to a favorite sports team, cultivate ingredients for a favorite dish, even pay homage to Shakespeare and his legendary “Midsummer Night’s Dream” - with a fairy garden, naturally. Fairy gardens, in addition to being whimsical, are by definition tiny, making them a perfect pursuit for gardeners with limited or indoor-only space. With an ever-growing catalog of diminutive accessories and pint-sized plants available for purchase, fairy gardens can also offer a fun way for grandparents to introduce young grandchildren to the magic of gardening - especially if evidence of a visiting “fairy” turns up every now and again.
If you love the idea of starting a garden, there’s no need to wait until spring rolls around. A variety of vegetables can be planted in late summer, and a technique called summer succession planting, which entails planting specific heat-hardy specimens such as Bulldog collard and Peppermint Swiss chard at the calendar’s halfway point, can ensure a continuous harvest.
Getting started doesn’t need to be daunting, either; staff at local gardening stores and members of groups like the Schaumburg Community Garden Club are always happy to answer questions and help with plant selection, and a plethora of gardening websites and YouTube channels place a wealth of resources right at your fingertips. Don’t have the time or space to start a garden at home? Check to see if your local park district offers community garden plots like those maintained by the Schaumburg Park District.
While the pandemic planted the seeds for gardening’s surge in popularity in 2020 as people sought new ways to keep busy and beautify their surroundings, the trend has continued in 2021 - and with people of all ages having found comfort, solace and a sense of purpose in the activity, it may end up having deep roots that continue to blossom.