August 2020 Nature Almanac

turtlehead flower_chelone glabra
Turtlehead (Chelone glabra). By R. A. Nonenmacher – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Here in Philadelphia…

The New Moon, the Thunder Moon began on July 20th and we have had many thunderstorms and all-day rains. I haven’t had to water my plants. I am also stuck inside.

The Thunder Moon ends on August 18th. On that day we move into the Green Corn Moon. Green Corn is the immature corn stage we eat as corn-on-the-cob. Mature corn dries on the stalk, the leaves turn brown, and the corn is stored for the winter.

September is the Mature Corn Moon. This is when the corn seed is mature and ripe to be saved for the next planting time.

This month’s almanac features eastern native plants that bloom in August.

New England Asters in my garden. Photo by Donna L. Long.

Did You Know?

A Three Sisters Garden is a “storage garden”? The grandmothers planted the food crops corn, beans, and winter squash to process and store for winter eating.

They planted not fresh-eating corn like the hybrid variety ‘SIlver Queen’ but a flour or dent variety like ‘Cherokee White’. Some varieties of storage/flour corn taste good as fresh corn on the cob also.

My grandmother stored this corn on the cob until it was completely dry. When the corn kernels are needed to grind into cornmeal or the kernels/seeds planted, we would twist the kernels off the stalk.

The squash varieties would be winter squash that developed a hard thick rind and would stay edible through the winter. ‘Long Pie’ (‘Indian Pumpkin”), Butternut, and “Connecticut Field” are examples.

The pole climbing bean varieties were beans for drying and storing like, ‘Black Turtle’ or ‘Scarlet Runner’. The pods were left to dry and fully mature on the plant.

Sunflowers or sumpweed were also planted along the northern edges of the gardens.

The Common Sunflower (Helianthus annus) was planted not the giant sunflower. Sunflowers were grown for seeds to eat. And they also draw birds ito the garden who will hopefully, eat a few pests while there.

Sumpweed (Iva annua) was grown for its’ seed.

For more information on the ‘Three Sisters Garden” see this answer by Mike McGarth.

Download a free pdf, “The Three Sisters: Exploring and Iroquois Garden by Marcia Eames-Sheavly.

Special Days

August 1 – Green Corn Celebration around this day. This is also the time of Lammas or Lughnasa in Celtic cultures.


In the Sky This Month

The Moon

The Moon’s name is applied to the entire month. It starts with the New Moon and lats until the next New Moon.

The Thunder Moon is the time of thunderstorms

The Green Corn Moon is when the corn is in the fresh eating, corn-on-the-cob stage.

  • Full Thunder Moon – August 3rd
  • Last Quarter Thunder Moon – August 11th
  • New Green Corn Moon – August 18th
  • First Quarter Green Corn Moon – August 25th

Moon Facts

  • New moon always rises near sunrise
  • First Quarter near noon
  • Full Moon always rises near sunset
  • Winter Full Moons are high in the sky
  • Last Quarter rises around midnight
  • Moonrise occurs about 50 minutes later each day

Midnight Sun At the North Pole – the Sun never sets from March 20th to September 23rd.


large milkweed bugs_Oncopeltus fasciatus
Large Milkweed bugs (Oncopeltus fasciatus) in my garden on Penstemon

Comets and Meteor Showers

August 11th – 13th. The Perseid Meteor Shower is best seen before the Moon rises. The Moon rises at approximately 11:52 p.m. Boston, MA time. This is a principal meteor shower of the year. The point of origin is the Northeast section of the sky. Expect around fifty meteors per hour in the predawn hours.

Best Fishing – When the Moon is between New and Full

  • July 20th – August 3rd Between last quarter and new moons)
  • August 18th – September 2nd  (between new and full moons)

The Stars in the Sky

Circumpolar Constellations – from latitude 40 degree north – these constellations are always in the sky: Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, Cassiopeia, Draco, Cepheus, and Camelopaedalis. link to post

Northern Hemisphere Constellations near the zenith or highest poin in the sky: Hercules, Corona Borealis, Sagitta, Delphinus, and Ophiucus

Northern Hemisphere Constellations in the Summer Northern Sky: Aquila, Cygnus, and Lyra

Northern Hemisphere Constellations in the Summer Southern Sky: Sagittarius, Libra, and Scorpius


bee balm_monarda didyma
Bee Balm (Monarda didyma). Photo by Donna L. Long.

Birding This Month

  • Hummingbirds begin their migrations.
  • Hawk migration begins in late August
  • Fall Migration begins for land birds including ducks


cardinal flower_lobelia cardinalis
Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis). Photo by Donna L. Long.

Plant Activity This Month

Some Eastern Shrubs In Bloom:

  • Bottlebrush Buckeye (Aesculus parviflora)
  • Meadowsweet (Spiraea latifolia)

Some Eastern Native Flowers in Bloom:

  • Giant Purple Hyssop (Agastache scrophulariflolia),
  • The Milkweeds (Asclepias species)
  • Asters (Asters species)
  • Turtleheads (Chelone species)
  • Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
  • Monardas (Monardas species)
  • Goldenrods (Solidago species)

More summer blooming native flowers 

Summer into Fall Blooming Native Plants  and (pdf)


Phenology Questions for This Month

What is blooming, setting seeds, changing leaf color (what percentage),  when the hawks are migrating?

What Do You Need to Know about Hawk Migration

What is blooming, setting seeds, changing leaf color (what percentage), when the ducks begin to migrate?


Nature Journaling This Season

Nature in Summer: Table of Contents

Summer Nature Journal and Prompts


Citizen Science Events to Participate In

Project Budburst (year around)

That’s it for this issue. Look for the next issue at the end of August.

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