Sunday Confessional

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.

_MG_0006 Bee on 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?

Tulips interruptus

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.

I changed my mind

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.

.

Twofer Tuesday: Tulip edition

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 had better make room

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.

.

Sunday Confessional: Today I’m wishing I could have a do-over

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.

 

.

Take my garden, please

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 bed real estate and don't bloom for a very long time, but when they do, they are lovely.

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 . . .

 

 

 

.

Garden gone mad

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.

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.

 

 

.

Tenacious R Us

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.
_MG_0202 Petunias

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.

They’re tenacious,
they prevail,
and I feel an undeniable kinship with them.

 

 

.

To bee or not to bee

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 on flowers this morning.

Don’t think I’ve seen this type of bee before. Many of them were on the flowers in one bed this morning.

 

Bee with pollen

Meanwhile, in another bed, some bumblebees were hard at work. Note the pollen on back legs.

 

Didn't even know that bee was in frame until after the fact.

Didn’t even know this bee was in the frame until after the fact!

Earth is a flower and it’s pollinating.
~  Neil Young

.

Hot fun in the summertime

Today is gonna be hot.
Red Hot Poker hot.

These beauties grow next to my driveway after former neighbors committed one of their "drive by plantings."

These beauties grow next to my driveway after former neighbors committed one of their “drive by plantings.”

While I do admire the Red Hot Pokers’ fiery colors,
I find these Purple Coneflowers more soothing:
Purple Coneflowers

After taking those photos, I spent a fair amount of time
chasing bumblebees around the lavender with my camera.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get anything worth sharing.
The good news is that I always, always have bees in my yard
so I’ll have plenty of chances to capture one of those bumbly bees.

In the meanwhile, I’ll kick back to a little Sly & the Family Stone:

Stay cool, people.

 

 

 

Some days I want to cover my eyes

“There cannot be enduring peace, prosperity, equality and brotherhood in this world if our aims are so separate and divergent, if we do not accept that in the end we are people, all alike, sharing the Earth among ourselves and also with other sentient beings, all of whom have an equal role and stake in the state of this planet and its players.”
~  Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck 

Double-blooming clematis from my garden.

Double-blooming clematis from my garden.

That Smell

Ooh, that smell
Can’t you smell that smell?
Ooh, that smell
The smell of death surrounds you, yeah

Thank you, Lynyrd Skynyrd, for penning today’s theme song. Allow me to explain.

Last fall while researching Build a Compost Tumbler, I learned all sorts of good stuff that helped me reinvigorate our composting process here at home. In fact, to Zippy’s absolute delight, we now have three compost bins (one free-standing and two tumblers). And one of the biggest changes to our composting method is that we no longer put weeds in our trash where they end up creating methane and carbon dioxide in the landfill.

Unwelcome plant aka WEED.

Unwelcome plant aka WEED.

The prickly lettuce, the bindweed, the thistles, the grasses gone to seed, all those things go into a lidded garbage can full of water.

You see, I learned from Bob Flowerdew** that weed seeds and roots will die if left submerged in water for two weeks. (Weeds are valuable compost materials that are often left out because of the fear that the invasive weeds will spread via the compost.)  But you know what else happens after those two weeks of submersion? The water is transformed into one of Mr. Flowerdew’s favorite things: vile liquids. He loves them because vile liquids are great additives to your composting piles. Vile liquids accelerate the composting process.

Early stages of the tumbler Zippy and I built before I wrote the book.

Early stages of the tumbler Zippy and I built before I wrote the book.

But if left too long, vile liquids will, oddly enough, give off the aroma you’d expect from a vile liquid. (Think farmyard plus death plus your next three least favorite smells). It’s imperative you wear old clothes and shoes while handling vile liquids, especially when you’ve allowed your weeds to marinate for a month or longer. (Oops.) And woe to you if you happen to splash any on exposed skin.

Ooh, that smell

So yes, I did handle vile liquids today. And yes, despite the latex gloves (you want one-use gloves for this chore), I got vile liquids on my hand and now all I can smell is that horrifying combination of stink. (The stink does go away, just never fast enough).

Lynyrd Skynyrd is playing on a loop in my head as I try my best to think ahead to the rich compost I’ll someday be adding back into the earth.
Spring garden shots 018

**best compost-guru name ever!