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Between spring and fall blooms, a green world invites respite

Now, we’re “knee-deep in June,” as James Whitcomb Riley said in his famous poem of that name. It’s one of my favorite poems for what, to me, is the perfect month, the sweetest time of year.

I know how Riley must have felt when he wrote of June: “Lay out there and try to see/ Jes’ how lazy you kin be!”

June is the month of tranquility, of the summer solstice, the time when the whole world seems wrapped in lush greenery (especially now because of all the rain).

The great fecundity fills the woods, fields and meadows with many pleasant odors, all seemingly mingled into one. I love the earthy smell of woods after a gentle rain in June. And there’s no more pleasant fragrance than fresh-mown hay drying in a field under a June sun.

June is like an intermission, the time between the colorful wildflowers of early spring and the dazzling blooms of late summer and fall. Trilliums, violets and other spring wildflowers have finished blooming and are making seed now, but the flowers of fall — the goldenrods, asters and such — are just starting to put on new growth for their blooming.

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That’s not to say, of course, that no wildflowers bloom in June. Black cohosh, saxifrage, hypericum, meadow rue, beard tongue, trumpet creeper, Queen Anne’s lace, bull thistle and others bloom in June and provide nectar and pollen for bees, wasps, butterflies and other pollinators. In late June, two of Georgia’s most beautiful wildflowers, Turk’s cap lily and Carolina lily, will start to bloom.

For songbirds, June is a slow month. All the birds are still sporting their snazzy breeding plumage and many of the males are still singing, but their main focus now is feeding their babies, which takes a lot of energy.

As for me, June puts me in Mr. Riley’s frame of mind: “Under some old apple tree, /Jes’ a-restin’ through and through, /I could git along without / Nothin’ else at all to do.”

IN THE SKY: From David Dundee, Tellus Science Museum astronomer: The moon will be last quarter on Wednesday. Brightly shining Venus is in the west just after dark and sets about two hours later. Mars rises out of the east just before midnight and will appear near the moon tonight. Jupiter is high in the east around dusk. Saturn rises in the east just before dark.

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