What a short summer! We had Junuary this spring, a cool summer and now early the fall rains. This has not been the best year for ripening tomatoes or for growing tender tropicals in the garden. Our Hedychium 'Tara' (the earliest blooming hardy ginger) are just starting to bloom where last year they had been blooming for over a month. We have been eating tomatoes since late August where last year we had then ripen a month earlier. Our musk melons are finally ripe while last year they were done long ago. Well, perhaps we can take some solace in the fact that those in the eastern USA have been suffering extreme heat. We also must remember that as gardeners we are really farmers with miniature farms and as such, we are vulnerable to the whims of nature. There is no room for hubris when dealing with the whims of mother nature- we are lucky to get what we get. Most tender tropicals grown here in the Pacific Northwest have until early to mid October before we must bring them in, except for very tender plants like Furcrea gigantea variegata and basil,which will start going down hill very soon if the temperatures stay cool and wet. In our own garden, we will monitor the weather and start pulling in tender tropicals in a week or so and putting them in the greenhouse. Our large bromeliads, Alcantera imperialis and Aechmea blanchetiana do not like frost so they will come in soon. Some people ask why go to all the trouble to grow plants that are not hardy? While most of the plants in our garden are hardy, the dramatic, extroverted tropicals like Furcrea and Aechmea and tender succulents like Echeveria give us so much pleasure, they are worth the extra effort to have them in the garden. Like some high maintenance relationships, they are worth the extra effort so we can enjoy their special beauty. In our own garden, we use them with hardy plants to give the garden a little extra exotic beauty, a little extra "wow!".