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Symphony of pink in the summer garden

There's nothing quite so effective as rising early to water the garden for viewing a concentration of wildlife. There's the usual young buck at his daily morning (and evening) station by the fence, nibbling grass and clover.

There's nothing quite so effective as rising early to water the garden for viewing a concentration of wildlife.

There's the usual young buck at his daily morning (and evening) station by the fence, nibbling grass and clover. Squirrels leap along the fence top and up trees.

One morning I found myself in the bizarre position of chasing a sizable rabbit round and round the oval bed in the centre of the front lawn, until he veered off through the fence and across the road.

Ever-present in sound is the dove that, for many weeks, has been emitting a three-part call, insistent and penetrating, almost the whole day long. After hearing the dove from a few blocks away for weeks, I began to wonder about the mental health of people closer to the feathered agent of auditory torment.

A friend in the neighbourhood recently asked me whether I'd heard the dove. It perches on a pole beside her house. She hasn't been able to sleep past 5: 30 a.m. all summer. She's admits to feeling "quite murderous."

Comely companions. Moving from the ridiculous to the modestly sublime, I've noted some pleasing colour combinations in the garden's flowers this summer. In the front garden, beside the driveway, an Asiatic lily called Dolly Madison came into full, clear magenta pink bloom on metre-long stalks at the same time as pink flower clusters on a Limemound spirea behind the lily. I was struck by the harmony of the colours, together with the nice contrast in textures and colour between the two plants and their blooms.

Last month, as I cut some double pink peonies to give a neighbour, I noticed Centranthus ruber blooming nearby in dark pink. I added them to the peony bouquet.

My neighbour especially liked the tight, rounded flower clusters of the Centranthus (red valerian), which rather surprised me because in my garden it hovers close to weed status.

Red valerian self-sows, and is so tough I have it growing out of rock piles. My neighbour's fondness for the flower, however, has led me to an enhanced appreciation for the easygrowing, stalwart perennial. Its deep rosy colour pairs well with the very soft, pale pink of the peony, called 'Therese.'

On one of my May strolls through a local garden centre, I spotted a petunia with blooms I found enchanting.

The large flowers were pale yellow at the centre, fading to cream and then taking on a light, almost coral pink along the petal edges.

Another petunia was the last thing I needed, with many seed-grown varieties at home awaiting transplanting. Still, I kept returning to admire the petunia.

What pushed me over the line of resistance was a nearby, unnamed osteospermum with petal edges that echoed the coral-pink in the petunia. I bought small flats of them both, and some pink Bacopa, to plant in an old, oval-shaped metal wash tub, complete with drainage holes.

The planting struggled through the rain and cold of June, but it came to life with July's warmth. It is placed at the front of a small container garden situated in an alcove against the back house wall, beside the gate into the back garden.

The petunia was not labelled, but coincidentally an email bulletin on planter combinations that arrived soon after my purchase included a photo of my petunia, identified as 'Suncatcher Pink Lemonade.'

I do not consider myself any sort of expert on floral colouring and colour combinations, but, like most gardeners, I simply know what I like.

Insect oddities. This year has been like no other on the insect pest front. In my garden, carved out of and surrounded by forest, wood bugs and earwigs abound. Usually, at least some seedlings are chewed and destroyed. Not this year. Despite sodden conditions through June, not even the ultra-vulnerable beans were munched.

The apple trees have pre-sented another puzzle. Once the fruit has set and I routinely begin shortening the soft, new growth in summer pruning sessions, the new shoot tips are commonly twisted from feeding by aphids. This year, almost every new shoot tip has been clean.

I cannot recall this happening before, and - not that I'm complaining - I'm wondering where the apple aphids went. It's nothing I've done. There has been no insecticide use in the garden for decades. Perhaps the beneficial insects are working overtime.

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