Farewell to Stella

When Stella started to show her age, acquiring the bony look that old lady cats have, I thought we had a couple of years left to enjoy her cat-ness. stella_huntress

She was all cat: an athlete, a hunter, a courteous and amusing room mate. She was aloof but not indifferent. She liked us and paid us attention in pure cat terms. I have received numerous rodent offerings, and could always count on her to flop over on the mulch to welcome us home after absences. Continue reading

September 2014

Hey, I did it! One post for each month of the summer. Better late than never, I say.

September is the time of grasses. A couple I planted last year are doing well. These are next to the mailbox, a sunny, dry location that also gets a salting over the winter.  A young milkweed is hiding behind them in this picture. I’ve been nurturing that little guy for a full year, because I took it into my head that we should have one for the Monarch butterflies, and because they’re pretty. Gardening is not a rational activity, as Margaret Atwood pointed out. We’ll see if if comes back next year.

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Garden retrospective: August 2014

By August, the perennial garden starts to look a little tired. This summer has provided wonderful vacation weather, a long series of sunny days with low humidity and temperatures in the comfortable 70s and 80s. The plants have different requirements, however, namely rain, which has been scarce. I haven’t been able to spend hours watering every bed, so I’m glad that I generally use plants that thrive on benign neglect.

Here are two views of the west side bed, messy as usual but still showing some color. That yellow coreopsis is too close to the flagstone path (not visible in the picture) and I’ll have to move it. Plants often grow bigger than I envision them and end up flopping or sprawling in inconvenient places.

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The cleome is from seeds that my friend Elisa gave me. I’m hoping it seeds itself and comes back next year. The purple basil from Kathy keeps on keepin’ on. Continue reading

Garden retrospective: July 2014

When I first started doing flower gardens, I hadn’t discovered the later blooming perennials so I each July I felt bereft when June’s bounty ended.

Then I discovered the tough and beautiful butterfly weed, which is native to Eastern North America. This flawless plant is drought tolerant, has a long blooming season, and makes striking seed pods that look great right through the winter. I just learned that it’s a type of milkweed.morning_glory_first_2_july Continue reading

Garden retrospective: June 2014

June is the peak bloom season, when the freshness of early spring is still with us and summer is asserting itself. Abundent beauty arrives without effort.

Hostas are up and the primroses are blooming. The primroses spread vigorously, but are not difficult to keep in check because they spread by shallow running roots that are easy to pull up. I value them because their blooms are long lasting and they don’t look too horrible after the blooms have faded. In fact, their leaves turn an attractive red in the fall.

primroses_june_21_1 Continue reading

Garden retrospective: May 2014

It’s nearly the end of September, and I haven’t posted anything about the garden in a long time. I finally went through my photos and I thought I’d do a few retrospective posts, by month.

Lots of garden writers wax rapsodic over the value of keeping a garden journal. In the past, I’ve tried to keep a record of what worked and what didn’t, both aesthetically and practically. In those pre-digital days, these attempts always fizzled out. It just felt like too much work.

However, I do enjoy taking pictures, thanks to a cute, easy-to-use camera my sons gave me a few years ago. For recording a garden’s evolution, a picture truly is worth a thousand words. One or two sentences for context, plus a picture with its date, and I have a handy record of what went on in my little garden. Continue reading

Iced spring

Icy snow rattled down overnight, making a racket and coating the garden with a frozen crust.  It soon melted off, although the temperature didn’t rise much above 45. So I had a brisk walk in my winter coat, which I always prefer to being overheated.

Despite the turn back towards chilly air, spring has fully arrived, and it couldn’t be more welcome. The lilac buds are swelling.

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The longest winter

This month has not offered any of those glorious teaser days that bring the scent of spring, something to carry you through the remaining days of frost, freeze, and most likely ice storms. Just temperatures hovering around low to mid 30s, so the snow has been very gradually disappearing.

March 22
It was in the mid fifties today, so this was the first moderately Spring-like day of 2014. I wore my spring coat for the first time. Halfway through my walk, I saw two turkey vultures sunning themselves on a chimney. It was exciting to see them, and I got a lot of nice pictures. However, something went wrong in the upload to my computer, and I lost most of them. Here are the two that weren’t damaged.

big_bird_2big_bird_1Thanks to the grudging thaw of the past couple of weeks, I was able to walk through the back yard at the end of my walk for the first time since the series of big snow storms. The turf was soggy and felt vulnerable under my feet.

Hope springs: Sky and salt tide lines 2014

Feb. 11moonrise_2_12_2014

February is the bleak nubbin of winter. With holiday glitter a tarnished memory, snow and slush both present and predicted, it’s a granite time that winnows the New Englanders from the snowbirds.

And yet, the signs are there. Days are longer and the sky is somehow softer. My sunset walk is under candy pink and purple clouds, quite unlike the steely crystal skies of January. At the top of the steep road I call Cardiac Hill I’m stopped in my tracks by the sight and sound of 50 or more robins fluttering and chirping in a suburban yard.

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