This journal -- the antecedent to the blog -- gets its start from a
decision to dig up all the grass in our yard and plant flowers,
perennials, ground cover, shrubs, a small tree or two, berry bushes,
vegetables. My first title for it, I remember now, was "The Amateur." I
am fond of the word's Latin roots -- it means "lover." I'm not trained,
I'm not a professional, I just began digging things up and planting. To
be an amateur means to do something not for money, but for love. Five
summers later, I am still an amateur, but the place has blossomed. I
loved the development stage; now I'm working on management, maintenance
-- skills that require patience. I like doing things, trying things, and
seeing what happens. I experiment, I learn from experience (or try to).
I love to see things growing. I love the idea that when we step
outdoors, we are in nature. The "environment" begins at the doorstep.
Open the door; breathe the air; listen. Today a cardinal sat on the head
of a sunflower, bobbing and calling, looking for all the world as if he
had just lost something. I noticed he ate a few sunflower seeds too.
There is always something to see. Here's the "interests" list:
Roses in the Rain
After four days of rain and more wind than I want to see again any time soon, the sun comes out unexpectedly this morning. Then, while the sky’s still half filled with sun, it starts to rain. A little while later, the rain clears and now the sun is shining full on. High clouds, but big patches of blue sky. A pefect cool June day, temperature around sixty.
We send the hardy gardener (my all-weather self) out there to survey the effects of the weather and make a casualty report.
Peonies, on their way out when the wind and rains started, have now spread thick coatings of the dense white petals that make up their flowers on the ground and spatter the brick walk they overhang.
Stalks of foxglove flowers, the biggest loss because these are biennials, have gone horizontal from the flattening winds. Foxgloves pick their spots, and half the time I forget where their summer location plans are, but if they’re showing in the spring it’s pretty easy to pick out their leaves and try to clear a spot to make sure the flower stalk develops.
This year it’s the white ones with pink centers in their horn-shaped blossoms that are showing. Last year we had deeper colors.
This is still the season for spiderwort, a vigorous perennial with crooked leaf spears and round purple blooms. Some of these have been blown flat, but I expect these will pick themselves back up. Not so my flattened foxgloves; those I fear are headed for cutting and vase work indoors.
All the rain has made for a lot of green growth everywhere I look, and that means a lot of overgrowth. So now everything needs weeding and cutting back. All these past-flowering violets, to take a conspicuous presence – maybe it’s time for you to go.
When the clouds hold off for a few hours, I go back out later in the day to see what repairs I can make.
I notice a few strawberries turning red enough to eat. So I pick a small bowl. Many more care oming, but not nearly so many as in past years before the raspberry bushes started eating up their space.
But the roses are holding up, shining through the rain, and blooming a red fury when the comes out.
With the air finally dry I spray the roses, they’re sparkling in four different places, the June bloomers already peaking. Rain doesn’t stop them from bleeding.
I even manage to stake a couple of downed foxglove flower stalks back up, using odd bits of string scavenged from last year’s stakings.
Finally I give in to the pleasure of simply sitting among the plants and trimming beds and picking weeds. It’s not warm yet, but it’s delightful to be out of doors, fighting the bees to pay attention to the blossoms.
I examine the laurel bush too. It looked weak earlier this spring, with nothing but old leaves showing, but it’s had a great burst of new growth over the last month. Some of the new leaves cover the flower bunches, but I’m gratified by this evidence that the plant is doing well.
The day lilies are about to bloom, significantly ahead of the old late June schedule. The spirea buds are out, and showing color. One of the blue Ansonia plants, one of last summer’s class of newcomers, is blooming a pretty light blue color. Things coming, come and gone, and to come: it’s pretty much pleasure in any direction that you look.