Summer doesn’t officially end this year until Saturday, September 22, but around here, we’re starting to see the end of my favorite season already. For starters, public schools here in Knox County start in only a week and a half. And on the drive home from South Carolina yesterday, I saw some deciduous trees with just the merest hint of color tinging their leaves.

But the biggest changes telling me that the end of summer is approaching are in my garden, and in my sunflower patch in particular.

Here’s how my sunflowers looked only two weeks ago.

Sunflower Patch

Sunflower Patch

But when we returned from our week away at the beach yesterday, here’s what I found my sunflower patch looking like.

Dead Sunflowers

Our rain gauge says that we got 2.5 inches of rain while we were away so the sunflowers didn’t suffer from lack of water in the past week. No, they are simply spent after providing a glorious display for much of June and July. My sunflower garden was an “all volunteer” patch, meaning that I didn’t plant a single one of the flowers. Instead they sprung out of the ground when birds who came to the multiple bird feeders that I have hanging in a cluster in that area dropped and fertilized sunflowers seeds that they came to the feeders to eat.

Today or tomorrow I’ll cut down all the dead sunflowers. which will be no small task given how thick sunflower stalks are, and then maybe the roses that I have planted in that same area will get more sun, giving me some blooms for the rest of the summer. Or maybe not.

I cut some of my remaining sunflowers, plus some roses and crepe myrtle blooms for an indoor bouquet this morning. I try to always have some fresh flowers in the house during the flower growing season.

Sunflower Bouquet

But even with the final bouquets I may be able to eke out of my garden in the month ahead, I know that autumn is closer than I’d like. I’m a summertime girl. I like beaches and flowers and sunshine. But with our annual beach trip now behind us, school starting, and my sunflowers fading out, I can smell the first hint of fall.

And I’m just not ready.

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