A few minutes ago I was working in my front yard, sowing death and destruction via my homemade weed killer (white vinegar, salt, and dish soap), while feeling frustrated and worn out by neverending garden demands. I was dreaming of a full-time gardener. Or better yet, a tiny house and one pot of geraniums. Or maybe a barrel of gasoline and a match to make it all go away.
Then I hit PAUSE on my grumpiness and focused on some blooming tulips.
It really is a wonderful thing to survive a long, dark, cold, snowy winter and be rewarded with colorful flowers. I’m still dreaming of my own gardener, but in the meantime I’m gonna try to appreciate the beauty poking through the tangled, weedy mess that is my front yard.
Apache Plume (left) & Mountain Mahogany. Blue = compost tumblers.
About seven years ago we spent a bunch of money on landscaping design and installation. We’re very happy with the native shrubs in our backyard, but are questioning the placement of some of those shrubs. Case in point: the two Apache Plumes planted right next to a Mountain Mahogany (which was planted next to an existing volunteer Cotoneaster).
I’m headed out right now to prune and de-crowd this area of the yard. All the while I’m gonna be fighting the urge to call that landscaper and ask him WTF.
On Saturday afternoon I dug up lots of perennials and at one point went inside to put a FREE ad on Craigslist. I didn’t hear from anyone and so put the plants in my garage to keep them out of the freezing temps. Someone responded to the ad at midnight saying he wanted the plants. I responded Sunday morning to confirm and ask when he’d pick them up. Hours passed without a response. Then another person wrote to say she wanted the plants, using many exclamation points to convey her enthusiasm!!! She said she’d get them today.
That’s the last I heard from that woman despite the numerous emails I sent asking for confirmation. I just sent a text to the original responder who’d finally responded last night to say he wanted them, asking if he can pick them up today. No answer yet. Meanwhile, the plants are in my driveway and the temperature is dropping again.
Selling stuff on Craigslist results in way fewer problems than giving things away for free. I’m thinking I should’ve charged a few bucks for the plants so that people would’ve been more courteous throughout the process.
Tomorrow is trash day. Maybe I should admit defeat and embrace the landfill, like a good U.S. consumer-citizen.
Our guest next to Zippy’s hand for scale.
I spent the afternoon working in the yard in preparation for the winter storm and below-freezing temperatures on the way. I cut back perennials and chopped up greens to add to our two compost tumblers and standing bin. Zippy joined me after his bike ride and made the plants from his vegetable garden compost-ready. As he stood over the bin and chopped up tomato plants, he discovered a guest he’d been dreading all summer: a tomato hornworm.
He showed me and said his friend had told him that hornworms turned into swallowtail butterflies. That didn’t sound right so I checked. In fact, tomato hornworms turn into the five-spotted hawkmoth. Either way, that’s quite the transformation. (I do think it’s kinda too bad the horn gets lost along the way.)
I spent much of today in my backyard culling plants from my severely crowded flower beds so that I could give them away. (I got in touch with a woman who back in May responded to my “Free Perennials” ad on Craigslist and who happily came this afternoon to retrieve more of the green bounty).
I dug up so many plants. Daylilies. Yarrow. Iris. Valerian. Lamb’s Ear. Plus other plants that got caught in the cull-crossfire (asters, vinca, mallow, etc.).
I admit my beds didn’t look quite as dense as this Pixabay photo, but the claustrophobic feel is definitely spot-on. Fortunately, there’s now a bit more breathing room in my backyard. And unfortunately, there’s still a long way to go . . .
in a race with the season.
Will ripe or cold win?
One patty pan squash
four mustard green leaves eaten
mate’s garden harvest.
Today, I didn’t share.
Zippy and I worked in the front yard for 90 minutes (we’d set a two-hour goal, but gave up after the effing wind blew off my hat one too many times). He deadheaded the blue mist spirea bushes while I dealt with the lavender. WE HAVE SO MUCH LAVENDER.
Lavender in all its summertime glory.
Normally, when I thin plants I put a FREE ad on Craigslist and leave the plants next to the house for people to pick up whenever they can. Today, I couldn’t deal with added layers of decision-making and organization, and tore out a garbage-bag full of run-amok lavender and threw it away. To summarize: I didn’t share plants with other gardeners and I didn’t compost the waste.
If confession is supposed to be so good for the soul, why do I still feel guilty?
Spring is here and I’m fighting the urge to hide in the house rather than face the green that’s showing. It ain’t easy, though, when that green belongs to weeds determined to take over the yard.
Tap roots are the absolute worst, yo.
Meet the invaders
dressed in shades of pretty pink.
These peas are not sweet.
Despite already feeling overwhelmed by my gardening responsibilities, I brought 10 tulip bulbs back from Amsterdam. I wanted to have a yearly floral reminder of our trip. Today, I went outside and figured out where I could wedge them in. I prepared the soil and used my handy-dandy tulip-bulb-digger-thingy to make a hole. I set one bulb in the hole and then thought, “It’s been a while since you planted a tulip bulb, maybe you should check for any special instructions.”
Good thing I checked with the interwebs. Tulip bulbs are only supposed to be planted in the fall. Doh!
Amsterdam tulips nearing the end of their bloom.
My bulbs are now tucked away in a paper bag in a basement cabinet. They’ll stay there until September when my phone calendar alert reminds me that it’s really and truly tulip planting time.
Happiness held is the seed;
happiness shared is the flower.
~ John Harrigan
I just photographed this iris, the first to bloom in any of my gardens this year. This was also the first iris to bloom last year. I’m very happy to witness its delicate beauty again. And I’m also happy to share it here.
Just now, I sat down at my computer and went to pexels.com in search of a Lamb’s Ear photo. My plan for this blog post was to publicly declare my new-found hostility toward that invasive plant, and to describe how I’d ripped out AT LEAST SEVENTY GAZILLION of them from my garden today.
But when I got to pexels.com, my search results from several weeks ago were still there; I’d been looking for images for the characters in my work-in-progress.
And this guy was the very first photo:
I’ve decided to drop my rant and, instead, dedicate today’s post to this delightful child.
Today’s post is brought to you by people who no longer live here. The first tulip was planted by former neighbors, but not when we were gardening side-by-side. Rather, they did one of their infamous “drive-by plantings” when we weren’t looking, and gifted us some miniature tulips.
The next tulip is a senior citizen and was planted by the former owners of our house. Next month, we’ll have lived here 20 years.
That red flower is a lesson in being beautifully tenacious.
A garden is to be a world unto itself,
it had better make room
for the darker shades of feeling as well as the sunny ones.
~ William Kent
I worked in my garden today and experienced conflicting feelings. Why was I born into this life and society while others were born into regions of the world that are under constant assault? I’m no more exceptional than any of those people facing horrific circumstances. Why is that I can quietly work in my garden while others know only mayhem and violence?
At times, I felt guilty for my easy day outside under the blue sky.
However, I also felt satisfaction knowing my work would help living things thrive and that my efforts were keeping materials from the landfill. I reminded myself that I was creating beauty in the world and that beauty is a legitimate pursuit.
Last spring’s poppy blooms reminding me of the beauty yet to come.
Today, my garden made room for all the feelings.
Two compost tumblers
ready to process yard waste.
None for you, landfill.
This afternoon I randomly thought about a man I once knew and then looked him up online. Well, I discovered that he’d died about 18 months ago. He used to be married to a friend of mine, but they divorced. The man had done some stuff that ended up being unforgivable. Zippy and I had spent quite a bit of time with both of them as a couple, and we liked the man. He was smart, funny, and always made us feel welcome when we visited. But after the bad stuff came to light, my loyalty was to my friend. The man reached out once, but I didn’t return the call.
I still believe I was right to stand by my friend, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’m now wishing I’d tried to communicate with him at some point. The thing is, my friend and I aren’t really in touch anymore so this news makes it feel as if I’ve lost two friends.
But, as Billy Wilder said, “Hindsight is always twenty-twenty.”
Because he loved these flowers.
Shrub running amok,
an aggressive takeover.
The elegant brute.
If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.
~ Marcus Tullius Cicero
I put three hours into my garden today and it still looks like Flora Run Amok. Right about now I’d welcome a garden abduction.
Asters take up a lot of garden real estate and don’t bloom for a very long time, but when they do, they are lovely. (I can admit that. I’m not a monster.)
Now off to read a book from the library . . .
I’ve neglected my flower gardens this year and it’s very crowded out there, both front and back yards. The thistles and bindweed are giving the perennials a run for their money. I spent two hours out there today working on one small area in back, and it still looks like a garden gone mad.
Asters, day lilies, sedum, yarrow, and three shrubs that have run amok.
It’s a vicious cycle:
I’m overwhelmed by the mess
and avoid going out there
which means more stuff grows out of control
which I then avoid.
Some women fantasize having a cabana boy,
but I dream of Chance the gardener.
“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.
On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”
~ Arundhati Roy
Our blue flax has bloomed again. Rebirth is possible.
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
~ Leonardo da Vinci
The last blooming coreopsis in my garden.
I’m a perennial gardener which means that the flowers I’ve planted are supposed to come back every year. Some, like the coreopsis that once bloomed long and bright throughout my beds, suddenly stopped blooming. All of them, at the same time, disappeared from my garden. The same thing happened with the exuberant clumps of blanket flower that used to bloom next to my driveway and were the the envy of my neighborhood. Here today, gone tomorrow.
But those are exceptions. The vast majority of my flowers come back each year which is great because I’m lazy. And cheap. I don’t like having to plant year after year and I don’t want to pay a bunch of money for flowers that will only be around a few months.
For a number of years I did plant annuals in clay pots and place them around my patio and down the steps. It was a lot of work and cost a bunch of money, and I had to remember to water them all the time because it gets extremely hot out there in the late afternoon. So I just kinda allowed that aspect of my gardening to fade away and left the empty clay pots stacked in my basement.
However, one huge pot remains outside year-round.
This is a photo from yesterday and the petunias blooming there are the result of the last planting which was 2-3 years ago. Those petunias haven’t gotten the memo that they’re annuals. They keep coming back. They refuse to give up.
and I feel an undeniable kinship with them.
Last night we had a hail storm that stripped leaves from trees and petals from flowers. The yard and patio are a mess. I went out with my camera to assess the damage and was happy to find many busy bees.
Don’t think I’ve seen this type of bee before. Many of them were on the flowers in one bed this morning.
Meanwhile, in another bed, some bumblebees were hard at work. Note the pollen on back legs.
Didn’t even know this bee was in the frame until after the fact!
Earth is a flower and it’s pollinating.
~ Neil Young