Goodbye to summer

My husband and I built our house in 1985, the year our son was born. Because we were so poor, we built as little as we thought we could get by with, the idea being that we could always add onto it later. We built a super-simple, no-frills house with two bedrooms, a kitchen, a bathroom, a laundry room, and a living room.

Over the years, we gradually added four more bedrooms (the original two bedrooms were turned into a home office and a music room), another bathroom, a workshop, a garage, and — the best part — a screen porch, which is something I’d wanted forever. The cats, as you can see from the pictures below, think we built it entirely for their amusement.

The problem, we quickly discovered, was that our cats would sit on the catwalk inside the porch, and our neighbor’s cat — who was home alone all day and apparently got kind of lonely — would come over to our house and try desperately to get into our porch. He would jump up and hurl himself at the screens, tearing holes in them with his claws. I got the bright idea that if we put window boxes on all the windows, they would work as cat deflectors, and keep him from inflicting any further damage on the screens.

So our son built eight window boxes, one for each window, and attached them to the outside of the porch. I’ve grown lots of different things in them over the years, but this summer I decided to go with just marigolds. They are easy to grow, hard to kill, thrive on neglect, and bloom enthusiastically from early summer until autumn’s first frost. Now that the weather has turned cold, their days are numbered, so I had my daughter go out and take some pictures of them while they were still blooming cheerfully.


Filed under Family & Friends, How Does Your Garden Grow?

12 responses to “Goodbye to summer

  1. So, YOU’RE the one who bought up all the marigolds this season! All summer long we searched for marigolds, because they’re one of the few flowers that will hold up to the 100 deg summer heat we had this year, but none of the usual nurseries carried any (at least when we happened to be there). The landscapers all seemed to have some, and every time we drove by commercial properties and spotted the marigolds, I grumbled bitterly to Mrs. Grunt about it, and wondered who was buying up the marigold supply of the entire west and midwest regions. We knew it had to be somebody with an enormous landscape acreage, or a huge number of windowboxes.

    It never occurred to us that the problem was caused, at it’s root, by a single housecat. That part is merely ironic now, since many of the other substitute flowers we bought turned out to be a favorite of our cat, who shredded most of them. That’s right, because of you, we ended up stuck with other flowers that didn’t bloom much, got shredded and/or withered under the sun. Your lush photos of your beautiful flowerboxes solve the mystery at last and seal our pain. I’m giving up gardening for good. Thanks a lot, Bob. 😉


    • Well, marigolds of all kinds were plentiful around here, but I couldn’t find any morning glories to save my life — and I looked everywhere. I’ll have to get an earlier start next year. The thing about Wisconsin is you can’t plant stuff outside before Memorial Day weekend…. but if you wait that long to buy the plants, a lot of the stuff you want will be sold out. I need to buy my plants earlier and stash them in the garage until it’s safe to plant them outside.

      Also, I can grow absolutely nothing inside the house, because the cats will eat it. Haven’t found a plant yet that they won’t eat. That’s why the window boxes are on the outside and the cats are on the inside. 😀


      • chrissythehyphenated

        I used to have cats (before allergies). I naively thought I could outwit them and find ways to have houseplants.

        I put up a macrame pot hanger too far from anything for them to reach the plant. They jumped up from below, got their claws into the jute and hung on, swinging wildly. For all I know, they pushed each other, like kids on playground swings. Anyway … they took the hanger and the pot down, ate the plant. Dunno how they avoided getting beaned by the heavy pot.

        I also tried a shelf, high up. They had an amazing ability to leap and land on the tiniest spaces imaginable. So I took double sided tape and poked dozens of thumb tacks through, stuck them to the plant shelf. Came home one day to find one of them sitting on the tacks, calmly eating my plants.

        Then there was the time we went away for a long week-end with hired help coming in morning and evening (different people) to feed, clean the litter box and walk the dogs. When we came home, every one of the animals had gained weight.. We queried both helpers; each accused the other of having left the hall door where the food was cracked so the animals could get at it and each insisted that SHE had carefully closed said door before leaving.

        Next night, we are studying (college apartment mate and I) in the living room and hear an odd squeak, JUST like the metal, bi-fold hall closet door opening. So we tiptoe to the opening and there’s one of the cats, opening the door! He reached under at the center and got his claws hooked up in there, pulled and popped the bi-fold enough so that he could then move to the opening and push it back enough to get at the food. We put a hook on the door MUCH too high even for the cats.

        Not that they couldn’t have worked a hook if they could’ve figured out how to get at it. We left meat thawing inside the toaster oven once. The door to that had a swinging handle thingie, like the end of a zipper but bigger. You had to grasp that plastic tab bit and move the door back, up and out to get the hooks on the door to disengage from the slots in the top front of the toaster oven. You’d think that would require an opposable thumb, wouldn’t you? Wrong. At least the cats were kind. They kept one steak on the counter for themselves and dropped the other on the floor for the dogs.

        We switched to using the big oven for thawing and came in one day to find a cat hanging on the handle by both front paws. If he had been a little heavier, he might have made that work too.

        These are true stories. And they’re not the only ones I could tell.


        • GP

          Wow, talk about a CATastrophe!


        • Yep, cats are smart — too smart for their own good, sometimes.

          Many years ago, I had a black cat named Nellie who had extra toes on her front feet — they looked like mittens. She used those extra toes just like a thumb and was an expert at opening cupboard doors. She also had a fetish for rubber gloves (sounds kinky, doesn’t it?) and was always stealing them from the kitchen and hiding them somewhere. At first I didn’t know where all my rubber gloves were going — they just kept vanishing. Then one day I came home from grocery shopping and found Nellie in the living room, surrounded by her collection of rubber gloves — all of them with the ends of the fingers bitten off.


    • chrissythehyphenated



  2. Ting

    I don’t like saying goodbye to summer, especially now that I am in the mood to grow marigolds.


  3. GP

    I loved your photos of marigolds. It was the first flower smell I ever remember. I lived with an aunt in Chicago for a short time when I was a tiny tot, and about all I remember was that she had a row of marigolds along her back fence. I have always loved the smell.
    Like Grunt, I could not find many marigolds this year either. I only ended up with a couple of small plants to stick around my veggies. I guess I need to get out and collect some seeds and grow my own again.
    Frost last night. I managed to get all my pots in, but totally forgot my basil! I am so bummed I lost it. That is my second favorite smell, or is it the first. It’s a toss up.
    And I still have tons of green tomatoes on the vines.
    I am always so gung ho to garden in the spring. I love to plant and till, but then I forget to pick.
    What a waste.
    There is always next year I guess.
    One of the reasons I really like winter is because there is no yard work. Hubbie gets to play with his snow blower. I won’t go near that thing.


    • chrissythehyphenated

      Fried green tomatoes are delicious!


    • Sorry to hear about the frost, GP. We just made it through a 4-day cold snap, and even covered, the tomatoes didn’t make it very well. It’s a shame, since it was a boom year for the tomatoes, and there were tons of green ones left. We actually lost the basil first, 2 days before the tomatoes succumbed. Why is that? I guess basil is particularly sensitive to cold. It went before even the sweet peas and peppers. Like Chrissy said, we’ll have to eat a lot of FGT’s, but we hate to see the red ones lost for another year! 😦