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Enlightened

We've seen one hundred sunrises over the Chesapeake Bay, each one slightly later than the previous. My husband always wakes me if I am still asleep during a really pretty one. We are both in awe of the beauty of our view out to the water, especially at dawn. The right amount of clouds will add to the drama of sun up, too many clouds will spoil the show, as will too few. We have seen almost no duds yet. With Autumn's arrival I noticed the predawn sky is taking on more lavender tones, softer than the fiery orange reds of summer.


Autumn dawn over the Chesapeake Bay
light before dawn

In our first three months at the new house we have experienced the sun's daily commute over the property. Those first mornings in July brought blinding bright light streaming in the windows for several hours each morning. We installed shades in the East facing bedroom and kitchen not for privacy, but to cut the glare of the morning sun.


golden morning light on east face of house
early morning

By late morning the light was high enough in the sky to reach the front yard on the west side of the house. As the weeks progressed we saw the sun move south in the sky, starting further to the right on the horizon.


Sunlight is a primary concern in the garden. More than six hours of direct sunlight equates to "full sun", whereas four to six hours is "part sun/part shade" and less than 4 hours of sun is considered "shade". We have some shade along the borders of our yard where the trees are quite tall, but closer to the house we have open sky and plenty of sun. Because our home is on the waterfront many would call the side facing the water our "front yard". I haven't been able to adopt that linguistic flip, so I will refer to the space between our house and the road as our front yard.


shaded yard and oak tree on the bank of Severn River
afternoon shadows from house

Our back yard is relatively shallow, with a twenty foot deep strip of lawn, before a steep bank to the water. This side of the house receives the first light of morning, and by afternoon the house shades most of the back yard. On the other hand, the area of yard closest to the front of the house is shaded until the sun reaches a far height in the sky. For most of the day the front yard is in full sun. I sited my greenhouse to receive maximum sun, orienting it to face south. Around the greenhouse I will plant a vegetable and cut flower garden to take advantage of the full sun exposure.


first light in back a.m. part sun in front p.m. full sun in front



When we moved to Annapolis we brought along many potted plants and placed them inside the foundation wall of the partial constructed greenhouse. Jim and I were still in the process of glazing the roof and side walls, so there were many openings to let in the breeze. Once the final pane of glass went in the temperature inside the greenhouse soared 10-20 degrees over the outside temperature. We had more sun than we needed as it turned out. I saw my plants quickly become stressed at the 100+ degrees I was subjecting them to because I wanted to keep them away from the deer. Now I was scorching the plants and nearly having heat stroke anytime I went inside the greenhouse. A large misting fan was somewhat helpful in reducing the temperature, and shade cloth was hung from the ceiling to further squelch the sun's rays. Simply spraying the gravel floor inside the greenhouse proved to be the most reliable way to quickly cool it down.


Now in the first week of October the daily highs are topping out in the seventies, which is much better for the plants inside the greenhouse and the gardener who tends them. Cooler nights have arrived and I can finally let down my guard against the burning heat of summer sun inside the greenhouse, and appreciate the warmth that is captured there during the shortening days of Autumn.


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