Spring…finally

and just in time for summer. Right now, the temperature is nearing eighty degrees and some heavy storms are due to come in from the southwest. Spring in the Northeast, however, (or at least my portion of the Northeast) has been a bit sporadic and slow in coming, with a hard freeze less than two weeks ago. Yes, in May. In the past two weeks, though, the trees have really begun filling in and this past week my flowers are showing their promise.

Can I remember what this flower is called? No. The tag I kept in the soil is long gone, but I am so happy to see they have returned to grace my somewhat unkempt garden.

The tiny ants are hard at work on my peonies. They haven’t yet reached the “marshmallow” stage, but I am hoping to see them begin blooming soon.

These are usually among the earliest to appear in my garden and I love their purple hue. A couple of days ago, there were only a few buds.
And we can never discount the lovely wildflowers. They may not be growing quite where I’d like them to be, but they nurture so many creatures I wouldn’t dream of removing them.
And my old favorite from my blog about the Chicken Teapot has become quite abundant, spreading beautifully and with no assistance from me–only nature.

Life’s Little Surprises

Somehow, in the craziness of trying to accomplish all I’ve set myself this summer, I had forgotten my little pond out front. Not that I’d actually forgotten it’s existence. Fixing or removing the waterfall and making changes to the layout of this small body of water is on my to-do list. I’ve underlined that chore multiple times. Perhaps even hard enough to push the pen point through the paper.

Still, I can’t remember the last time I looked at the pond except in disgust (awful, that–after all, the state of neglect is not the pond’s fault). All the same, nearly every day I find myself hearkening with a smile to the bullfrog’s deep callings accompanied by various little peeps in its vicinity while I’m engaged on the small hill’s upper side–either weeding, planting, planning or occasionally relaxing on the porch.

I took the embarrassingly short walk down there today to check things out and found to my utter delight the water lilies are in bloom. What a wonderful, inspiring surprise. I promptly decided to push caring for the water feature to the top of my to-do list. It does, however, seem to be getting along quite nicely without me, having formed it’s own flourishing little eco-system with no help at all from moi.

I am put in mind of Jeff Goldblum’s character’s utterance in the first Jurassic Park movie. “Life finds a way…”

Garden Restoration, Part I

I’ve decided to document the rebirth of the front garden (for starters—I may move on to brave the shed garden, the shade garden, the don’t-sit-under-the-apple-tree garden). It’s also a tale of my own rebirthing, from a rather nasty depression into the symbolically hopeful, soul-nurturing act of gardening.

Last year was a rough year for me. I know there are many out there for whom last year (or any year) was far more troublesome than mine. But I need to begin this blog with a quick explanation as to why my gardens came to resemble the forest surrounding Sleeping Beauty’s bower. I’ll be quick…the Reader’s Digest version, abridged and leaving you wondering where the rest of the story went. Ready? Two surgeries and nearly a year of physical therapy on my right arm. And I’m right-handed. Enough said? The weeds spent the summer proliferating and laughing at me. Winter did nothing to dampen their enthusiasm for mockery. They joyfully reappeared in the springtime for a repeat performance.

But I was ready for them this time…sort of.

I’ve decided to document the rebirth of the front garden (for starters, at any rate—I may ambitiously continue this documentary recitation with the shed garden, the shade garden, the don’t-sit-under-the-apple-tree garden). It’s also a tale of my own rebirthing, from a rather nasty what-the-hell-has-happened-and-do-I-really-care attitude into the symbolically hopeful, soul-nurturing act of gardening. I regained the use of my right arm and, therefore, my ability to remake my beloved flower beds over.

It’s a work-in-progress that began with the simplest tasks first—the front porch. Not gardening, per se, but the lateral move of store-bought plants into store-bought planters. Enough color to make me smile, enough floral abundance to convince me I was on my way to bigger and brighter.

blankslateFirst thing to face and prepare: the Blank Slate. Remove all extraneous items; break out the pressure washer; wash the lovely green lichen or whatever the heck it is from the railings, front siding, windows, wherever it had appeared in its effort to taunt me. Re-hang the wind chimes (did I mention that in my state of mind last year I had my son yank them down because the beautiful, deep timber of their chimes annoyed me? Of course I didn’t. I gave you the abridged version…) Next, bring the table and chairs out of the shed, wash them down, and place pottery onto the tempered glass surface. Insert pansies—purple and white. Why not? The colors look fabulous with the turquoise glaze of the pots.

table

Next, hang the planters on the railings. Unfortunately, the planters themselves are too flowerboxshort for the hanging apparatus. But soon these little beauties pictured at right are supposed to grow to drape over the planters’ edges and none will be the wiser. Except you, now that the secret is out of the bag. I’ll have to take photos later in the summer and we’ll see if their promise of coverage comes to fruition.

Finally, for this portion of the Garden Restoration, I jammed a shepherd’s hook into the earth in front of the porch between three smashingly beautiful and HUGE light gray rocks, and hung the equally large hanging basket of wave petunias, a basket of sunny yellow zinnias and a brightly colored birdhouse (painted by moi, in about two seconds, so don’t look too closely).

zinnias_and_birdhouse

This leads me to the next phase, which was backbreaking, exhilarating work. It was also where I learned, as I never had before, that gardening is a contact sport.

Check back for Garden Restoration, Part II. Thanks for reading!

Peony Perfection

whitepeony

I’m a little behind in my blogging, but I thought I would share these two photos of lovely white blooms I brought indoors a couple of weeks back. Alas, the bountiful rain and hot, humid days have all but eliminated my peonies outdoors.

I didn't have a short vase, so I put the peonies in this glass canister and loved the effect.

Those flowers I placed in a green glass container (as I had no vase available) were fairly ant-free and smelled heavenly, even after they had drooped and started losing their petals. I still have the unopened buds in a small vase for the scent alone. When fresh, they looked like the perfect bridal bouquet.

The Chicken Teapot and the Fantastically Lovely Day

Today was one of those days that ended up being exceptional, and for no particular reason. The purpose of my excursion was to find a local “fruit stand” (a misnomer, if you ask me) in order for my daughter-in-law to buy some thyme plants for her little garden in the backyard. I wasn’t exactly sure where this place was located, so we headed out on this fantastically lovely day for a little adventure.

Well, being Memorial Day weekend, and a fantastically lovely day (oh, did I say that already? I can’t help the repetition—the attributes of the day were just part of the many factors making up the exceptional excursion), so naturally yard sales abounded. I tried to ignore them, turning my eyes away from all the items of someone else’s clutter, determined not to add to mine. Fat chance.

The blue sky, fresh air and front yards full of treasure beckoned. I must say, I did manage to resist all manner of furnishings crying out for an application of paint to make them into what I like to call “practical art”—my usual weakness at yard sales. Instead, I fell in love with a uniquely-shaped chicken teapot. Not that the teapot possessed a chicken shape. That would have been too much even for me. No, it is a square-ish ceramic pot with a painted scene of chickens. I couldn’t walk fully from it. I kept returning again and again to the place where it sat until I felt compelled to ask the price. For a yard sale, the price was a little steep, but I bought it without haggling. Lauren (the above d-i-l) announced how proud she was that I had managed to ignore all the furniture we’d seen and that despite the price of my adorable little chicken tea pot, I deserved the occasional splurge. (God bless her.)

Chicken Tea Pot close up

“Someday, my kids will be cursing me, because they’re going to have to get rid of everything I’ve collected,” I commented to the gentleman seated nearby, whose yard we were perusing for items of irresistible interest. He laughed. So did I. I wasn’t about to let the thought of my demise at some future date and my children being burdened by my possessions ruin this fantastically lovely day.

This is a heartleaf alkanet, which has the prettiest, tiny blue flowers, which you should be able to make out to the left (I hope).

Our next stop was the “fruit stand” itself (eventually located), awash in lovely color, as tables and wagons and graveled paths laden with annuals, perennials, and the very thyme we’d been hunting met our delighted eyes. We spent quite a bit of time hunting thyme and everything else, leaving Stauffer’s with the thyme in question, as well as chives, a heartleaf alkanet (a what? I’d never heard of the shade-loving plant, but it’s beautiful), and a pot of coral bells, whose burgundy leaves are a treat.

Coral Bells - nice color, right?
Coral Bells – nice color, right?

However, we were not finished. The open road, the blue sky, the fresh air continued to call to us. So off we went, to Somerset Nursery, where we ogled more plants. Naturally, I couldn’t walk away empty-handed. I cringe as I write those words, because I really am not a spendthrift. In fact, I am usually most obsessively frugal. Oh well. Blame it on the fantastically lovely day. (Right now, the writers of my acquaintance are also cringing. I don’t think they will approve of my disproportionate use of adverbs and adjectives in this blog—again, blame it on the fantastically lovely day.)

Lauren's garden, which will have all the makings of a delicious salad soon.
Lauren’s garden, which will have all the makings of a delicious salad soon.

Afterward, made light-hearted by our unexpected fun, we headed home to grace the waiting soil with our finds—with the exception of the chicken teapot, of course. That little beauty is planted on the windowsill in my kitchen, where it will neither bloom nor bear fruit, but will remind me of this wonderful day whenever I see it…

Now who could resist this?
Now who could resist this?

(Yes, that is my hope, and not that I will be reminded instead of the fact my children will one day be forced to stick a price tag on all my treasures and set them out on a table in the sun for some other bargain hunter to find—but hey, such is the cycle of life.)