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.

mailbox_grasses_1_sept

Continue reading

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.

chimney_garden_aug_1

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.

lilac Continue reading

More Martin

If you like Doc Martin, a British series set in a picturesque seaside town, it’s likely because you have fallen for the peculiar charm of its star, Martin Clunes.

He’s in another series, Reggie Perrin, about a corporate executive undergoing a prolonged existential crisis (available on Netflix). This is more broadly funny than Doc Martin. Some of the best moments happen when Clunes indulges his fantasies about his co-workers and family (a wrecking ball knocks his mother off the couch after she says something especially cutting, or he fires a blow dart into the forehead of the chairman of the board). It’s similar to those moments in Ally McBeal when Ally’s thoughts would materialize for a moment before she snapped back into her normal, public self.

Continue reading

Fall!

The nip in the air recently prompted me to get out the camera and record the moment when the garden shifts into transition. I’m no botany expert, but I can almost feel the life processes of the plants contract and turn towards dormancy.

Grasses are wonderful in the fall. Here’s the new one that replaced the giant Pampas grass. It’s very delicate, and I think it shows up well against the purple basil.

Continue reading