Thursday, June 28, 2018

Garden of the Seasons: The Long Days and Happy Hearts of June

More updates from the Country of June.       
           Lamium, or "spotted dead nettle," proved to be one of the year's best recovery projects. After I weeded everything else out of its designated patch, back beside the Goat's Beard and underneath the Japanese maple, the plant spread its two-toned leaves and held up its pink flowers in more abundance than I've noted in previous summers.
           Abetted by a selection of annuals (and, yes, a lot more weeding), a colorful patch in the back of the garden with midday sun. (esp in June when the sun's high). Here are the dark pink Dianthus, a few Cosmos with similarly tinted blooms, and blue Lobelia. 

          Spikes of a smaller Foxglove variety keep pushing up year after in a section of the back garden that grows shadier from a young expanding maple tree behind and above them.  
            Deep red blossoms from a traditional rose vine are blooming strongly this year. We found two of these vines straggling through the years when we moved in. After some pruning and fertilizing they have been pushing out classic roses every year. 
          Asiatic lilies, that's how they're marketed, have come back strong. Years ago, our "ornamental" lilies were decimated like everybody else's by the the plague of invasive red beetles. The beetles were actually beautiful to look at, but what they did to the plants was not.
          The roses pictured beneath the lilies are a contemporary "knockout" cultivar. This photo was taken early in the month. The blossoms have ten-tupled since. Our neighbor has about six of these plants, all of them ferocious with color.
              The white Shasta daisies go back to one of our earliest plantings. I transplanted them all over. This group grows on a bit of soil we call the "sidewalk strip, turning up those happy faces to the garbage men and other passing traffic. I wish they would bloom all summer, but I'm unable to get a second bloom from them even after assiduously dead-heading 

            Next down are the yellow flowers of the evening primrose. This plant came from my mother, via my sister Gwen. A strong June bloomer, that spreads itself all over creation, even blooming in some mostly-shade areas such as here, under a big maple. 
           The bottom photo is a selection of spider wort, a plant I'd never made the acquaintance of until it found us here. It too migrates everywhere, crowding in thick patches. The purple blooms concentrate in June. Then the leaves just hang around all summer, taunting you with the prospect of repeating bloomers. 
               As the month draws to its end, and the days stay long, things are already starting to look a little different. 
                Time to pull some weeds and take some more pictures.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Garden of the Seasons: More Cheers for June

The month of June, and this will not come as news to anyone, is a good time to be outdoors. We present first off here for your inspection, the juvenile member of the North American Robin. The bird-finder website suggests this identification. I naively assumed that robins had red breasts, or orangish ones, or else they didn't. But it appears they may also have "speckled" breasts in adolescence. If that's the case, I'm hoping this adolescent bird grows up soon, because I regularly encounter him on the ground, even on paved ground such as the patio, apparently looking for a menu or waiting for the serving-person to show up. And he's not in a hurry to get away.
            In the next photo, we see the lower branches of the fruit-bearing mulberry tree, that provides evident reason for this bird's continuing presence. Others too, of course. Including a male cardinal yesterday. The best reason for having a tree that drops these messy berries all month is the level of chirping and calling that sometimes persists for whole sunny hours or longer on beautiful afternoons this month.
            Lots going on in the plant world as well this month, of course. The plant called the purple Penstemon, which I planted in one place years ago, has divided itself in half and now shows up in two places. I saw a bunch of these living large in full sun in a friend's front yard. That's what they like. This spot in our garden is definitely part-shade.
            Coral bells (at left). Too much sun when I took this photo to see the purplish stripes in the plant's dark green leaves. This light also washes out the color in the plant's delicate flowers.
            A mid-sized Bell Flower, species name "Campanula," sends up a few blossoms in our part-sun, part-shade back garden.
            The daisies or asters in the next photo down, I'm not sure what they are, send up tall slender stems. When all the blossoms open at once in late June, it makes the show we see here. It may be Fleabane, an American wildflower. 
            Another anonymous contributor is pictured at the bottom of the post. A hardy groundcover, it creeps close to the earth and puts up yellow flowers for a couple weeks in June.
            Lady's Mantle, below the putative Fleabane, appears perfectly content with its ration of sunshine, offering plenty of pale yellow flowers in the months of May and June. Unlike most summer perennials, it spreads horizontally rather than shoots up vertically.
            Goat's Beard, pictured brightly against the dramatic shade of the background, grows below a shade tree. After the neighbor cut down his tree, it grew even better.
           Lamium, or "spotted dead nettle," is one of this year's top recovery projects. That is, I weeded everything else out its plot, and the obliging plant spread its two-toned leaves and held up its pink flowers. (The software apparently ate this photo; I'll include it in the next post.)
            Lots more June bloomers in the next post, which better come soon because I'm running out of June.


Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Devil's Garden: "The American Gulag -- An Elegy"

After the fake-President's latest decree ending the practice of separating parents and children seeking refuge at our border, there are two major points to keep in mind.
Families seeking refugee status at the Mexican border will still be treated like criminals. Families may not be separated, but they will together behind bars -- indefinitely.
Secondly, US government officials claim they have no way to help families reunite and no intention of offering any assistance to parents (who are, remember, criminals) seeking to find their stolen children. The lack of accurate records reveals our government's unwillingness to treat refugees as real human beings with names and personal histories, and family members such as parents who also had names. 

Here's my poem about the practice of separating families and the implications of America's attitude toward those seeking refuge here.

The American Gulag: An Elegy

O, weep for America -- she is dead!
O weep for Liberty's long shuttered flame!

Weep not for the family of Márcio Goulart do Nascimiento
who crossed the river for fear of being murdered by the neighborhood drug house
in Brazil, where police told him, 'if you complain
you will be killed.'
For now they are safely jailed in Texas, Marcio and his wife in one place,
his two children somewhere else in the American gulag,
convicted of infringing on the peace and security
of the great Land of Liberty
because, as he himself confessed, "I did not wish us to be killed."

Weep not for Juan Francisco Fuentes Castro, fleeing the violent streets of El Salvador,
who sought only, he pled ("may it please the Court")  to bring his children to safety,
for surely they are safe now behind bars.
Some day, perhaps, he will see them again.

Nor weep for poor José de Jesús Días of Mexico,
who fails to understand why the court cannot tell him
where his daughter is.
And so he alone will not accommodate the Court with the obligatory guilty plea
until someone can tell him where in this land of freedom
they have placed her, safe behind bars.

For it is a simple thing, is it not, to declare one's guilt
for wetting one's feet in the sacred waters of Destiny's Dividing Line
in order to preserve the lives of one's own family members?
The Madonna would understand. The Savior would understand.
The judge too sympathizes, but his hands are tied by the bonds of Liberty.
Weep not for José de Jesús Días, for he is patently 'illegal.'
His daughter too is illegal,
but now no doubt safe in a place made of bars and uniforms,
among the tribes of lost children.

Nor let us shed our tears for the sufferings of Elizabeth González Juárez,
who alone among so many, knows where her daughter is.
She crossed the River of Tears from Guanajuato, Mexico,
to protect from harm a three-year-old child, abused by her  
drug-dealing father,
and sought the healing Balm of Gilead in the home
of her own mother who dwells among the kind and peace-loving souls
of Fort Worth, Texas.
Alas, the Land of Liberty could spare no refuge for a single infant more
upon a camel's back of three hundred million souls,
and so delivered the child straight into the hands
of her rightful, family-abusing, drug-dealing father.
It is the American Way.

Weep not, I say, for the 17 defendants dispatched by the Court in
an hour-plus session, finishing in time for lunch.
All are guilty.

But, in the quiet watches of the night,
lend a thought for a thousand children, and yet a thousand more
(by unofficial count at best)
young minds and hearts below the age of legal consent
ripped from the arms of their parents in a few weeks' time
on the strength of a Liberty-abusing Demonic Decree.
How many more victims, both old and young,
lie in separate hells
among the thousands denied refuge in the Home of the (no longer) Free?

Now is the time for your tears.

(Names and other facts taken from The Guardian newspaper: see