Wednesday, December 4, 2013

An old friend

What does it say when a garden blogger hasn't blogged in six months?  Nothing good about the garden, I can tell you. It seems the summer and fall passed without much impact on my gardening mind. Oh, I got out there every once in a while, I dug, I harvested, I moved some plants around. But mostly, this year, I just didn't. Part of that was getting myself into so many gardens that I couldn't care enough about any of them. My home garden, the church farm, my community garden plot...all weedy, all ferrel, all neglected.

But late this afternoon, looking out the window at the bird feeder and thinking that I didn't want to do one more thing that had anything to do with the care and feeding of my family or job, my garden whispered in my ear: I'm still here, you neglectful dolt, it said. It surprised me, like an old friend calling out of the blue.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Espalier Update

The espalier pears are growing, thankfully.  I was worried I had taken off too much, and that they would die. But they are hardy little things, and are putting out growth on their remaining, uncut limbs.  The photos above and below are the line of espalier from the neighbors' driveway (above) and from my front walk (below)

Here is how one little pear looks with its soft little limbs tied down to stakes with kitchen string.  The books said to try a 45 degree angle to start, and then to lower the stakes to horizontal in the fall.

The cicadas are coming (don't you just hear Paul Revere?) and I worry about my little trees.  I have been frantically trying to find out how high cicadas need to climb before they'll lay their eggs.  I am hoping that my little trees are too short still to count as "trees" to those buggers.  I guess we'll find out.

Garden Log

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Surprised, Again

Those little white bells along their green stems are perfuming my living room, along with a vase of white and purple lilacs beside them.  When I sit down in my chair to read - every time! - I am surprised by the scent.  

The flowers of this shrub (I've already forgotten its name) have no scent that I can tell, but the flowers surprise me all the same, blooming with their blood red petals under a tree where all else is some shade of green, or maybe a demure white.

There are other surprises in my garden this week - the espalier pears are leafing out, finally, and seem to have survived my surgery on their limbs; last fall's pansies along the front fence are exuberant and lovely, when I never before thought to admire a pansy; and Milo chewed up some unknown plant, now just a root ball and a woody, chewed crown.  Who knows who the victim was?  I'll find out some day when I go to check on a plant in an out of the way spot and find a hole.  But by in large the good surprises outweigh the bad this week, and for that I am grateful.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Garden Junkie

Gardening, chocolate, and coffee.  I crave them all right now, in about equal measure.  There is a proposal due, a trip to a far away place coming up, and a boy who needs a week of summer camp during a week when summer camps don't operate.  There is a little hamster scrambling around in my brain, and I want it to stop.  What puts that damn hamster to sleep are drugs and gardening.  The drugs are easy enough - I work across the street from my supplier, Panera - but the gardening is harder to score, because it takes time, and it is the lack of time that turns me into a brain-hamster-harboring junkie.

Those little feet above, all covered in dirt?  I want those to be my feet.  The grass is growing, the lilacs are blooming, asparagus is coming up, violets are scattered all over the garden.  The new espalier pears are budding out and I want to just sit and contemplate them a little bit.  If feel like if I did, if I could, the hamster might stop.  Maybe not, though - I'm a junkie, after all, and the more I garden the more gardening it takes to slake the craving.  Dirt.  The next gateway drug.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Noble Otis
It was 65 degrees yesterday, and after a half hour of puttering in the garden I decided to just...sit.  It is a rare thing, this lounging in the garden, especially in January.  My new favorite spot in the garden is this tucked away corner between the fig tree and the gate spread with wood chips.  My chair is there, and there is a high solid fence on two sides and the house on the third, leaving you feeling very snug and secure and able to look out at the hubub of the rest of the garden and the neighbors beyond without feeling drawn into it all. Plus it is warm and sheltered in the winter and shady in the summer.
The hubub of the garden
Milo and the dormant fig
The dogs joined me in my private spot, of course, because they can't stand to be where the people are not.  So Otis sat next to me looking noble, and Milo crawled over me being a pest, and I enjoyed my half hour in the winter sun.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Blooming Old

The tabletop garden began to bloom this week, aided by a couple of sweet little plants bought on impulse on a cold day that took me in the direction of the garden store.  I felt entitled.  It was my birthday, and I turned 40.  It isn't that 40 feels particularly old these days, just that I felt I could treat myself, and the way I treat myself is with plants.

I treated myself, too, with a couple of hours of quality time with my shovel, peeling up turf along the property line where my front garden meets my neighbors' driveway.  I flipped the turf over (flipped is an easy word for that work) so the overly lively roots will dry and freeze as they wave in the air, and hopefully begin to compost before spring.  The plan was to put in a line of espalier cherry trees as a living fence.  After a little research I was reminded why I don't yet have a cherry tree, and the plan has changed to a line of espalier pear trees - I think I'll go with three or four seckel pears, and Starking Delicious as a pollinator.  No, I have never espalier'ed anything before.  No, I have no idea how.  Yes, I am sure I will do an atrocious job.  And yet...I'm going to do it anyway.  I'm entitled - I've turned 40.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Small (tiny) is Good

Here is my winter garden - a few pots on tables and a shelf above the kitchen sink.  I have thought of creating a winter jungle, with ferns and gardenias hanging in front of every sunny window, but each time I stand there in the nursery, looking at the plants, I always reach instead for an African violet and call it enough.  I think it is because a little table of well behaved house plants is so compact, so undemanding, so need-free, that I am relieved to get my plant fix with so little investment.
A lot of investment?  That would be my puny 1/5 of an acre, which (when combined with two dogs and a boy) is in constant danger of spinning off into vegetative chaos.  Here is what has become of the patch of grass at the bottom of the stairs off the deck:
It has become Milo's chewatorium, his grassy mat where he drags all manner of chewable things, like Noah's toys, and destroys them.  I can't bear to post a photo of what my poor garden looks like now due to that dog.  Milo Garden-Wrecker.

I had an hour to myself today, and so spent it in the backyard pruning and clearing out the remainder of the dead and dried up stuff in the beds.  An hour's work gained me this, a pile of some size:

In my next free hour I will have to bag it, and then call the city to schedule a pickup, and then remember to haul it to the curb on the appointed day.  Really, maybe I should look into bonsai.  Or terrariums.