Mornings on the Porch

Saturday, April 16, 2011
Waxing Moon second quarter in Virgo
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Celtic Tree Month of Alder
Sunny and cold

I love sitting outside in the mornings. I feed the cats, take my coffee, and sit outside for about twenty or thirty minutes, listening to the garden.

More and more birds are migrating back. I’ll have to get a Petersen or Audubon guide to learn what they are. I’ve never heard some of those songs before.

The owl in the back usually wakes me up, just before dawn. I love owls, and I’m pleased we have one in the vicinity. The neighbor’s pine has a nest high up in it, so perhaps that’s where he’s staying. I’m not sure which kind of owl he is, but from his call and the nest, I’d think it’s a Great Horned.

The songbirds and other birds fill in as I sit there, and there’s a spring robin jaunting around the grass, getting his breakfast. Before I moved here, I didn’t even know that there were spring robins and winter robins.

The blue jay zooms past, yelling at the top of his lungs, because, of course, it’s all about HIM. I know most people think blue jays are pests, but I’ve always had a soft spot for them. They’re scrappy and stubborn and independent. And the blue coloring is so intense and lovely, much more vivid than anything artificially created.

The crows stay out of the back. There’s a group of seven who visit the front lawn every morning, usually a few minutes after I sit down to work. They wander the yard, peering at the windows, and give me the news of the neighborhood, then go off on their rounds. They come back and hang out in the neighborhood, though, and let me know if someone is coming. They seem to know the difference between people who live on the street and “intruders”, and only call out if a non-resident approaches.

I learned, at the various wildlife seminars, that crows mob owls and hawks, but, for some reason, My Mob of Seven seem to have a truce with the Backyard Owl. The crows stay out of the back, the owl stays out of the front, so they’ve worked out some sort of a deal.

This morning, the jays had a fit because a hawk was just outside of the property, circling, looking for some breakfast. The crows came racing around the side of the property, mobbed him, and chased him off. What was interesting was that they kept whatever truce lines they’ve drawn with Backyard Owl, not crossing through the backyard, but going around it, to get to the intruding hawk.

I’m going to start some more seeds on Monday, the next planting day. Some of them, I’ll start in seed pots, and some I’ll start in the pots I plant to put outside. My dilemma is that, in all the design books, the advice demands mixing as many different plants as possible in each pot for a lush, abundant look. However, I feel that, since I’m so new to all of this, that I should start them separately — a pot of chamomile, a pot of lemon balm, a pot of lobelia, etc. Then, as they grow and I’m more familiar with them, I can figure out what to mix and match, dig some out of some pots, put them with compatible, pretty plants in other pots, etc.

The Racer pumpkin that came up a few days ago is getting big, and the second one which came up is racing to catch up. The Chucky pumpkins are growing at a much more sedate rate.

The Lemon Verbena didn’t make it, unfortunately; it was too traumatized during the shipping process.

I heard from White Flower Farm that they’ve shipped my iris plants — iris are among my favorite flower, so I’m excited.

I like roses when other people take care of them — they seem like an awful lot of work — but some of the shrub roses I’m reading about look rather intriguing. I remember there used to be a special type of climber specific to the Cape, but maybe I’ll see more of it in June. The stores are carrying the “hybrid tea” roses, which , as I say, are pretty in OTHER people’s gardens, but I’m not up for the work.

I love sitting on the porch in the mornings, letting the yard talk to me. I learn something new every day, and, hopefully, the garden will teach me what it needs.

Patience in the Cold


Crocuses under the forsythia bush outside the garage

Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Waxing Moon First Quarter in Taurus
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Celtic Tree Month of Alder
Sunny and cold

It’s been cold and rainy for the past few days, so it’s nice to see some sunshine today. It’s still in the 30s, though, quite cold. I’m glad I didn’t put the pansies in the ground over the weekend.

As I visited a garden center last weekend, it sold out of manure. Only sunny day in weeks, and everyone rushed out to buy manure. We are definitely not in NY anymore! 😉

I’ve repotted the plants that arrived from Territorial Seed — the Hellebore, the Big King eggplant, the lemon verbena, and the Thumbelina Lavender. They’re all happy except the lemon verbena, which I don’t think will make it. It was badly frost damaged when it arrived, and I haven’t been able to save it.

The pumpkins inside haven’t germinated yet, but the plants I bought at the garden show are thriving. I’m especially in love with the catmint, and am tempted to buy lots of it and plant it in every possible border corner.


The eggplant has doubled in size each day since its arrival nearly a week ago.

The eggplant, however, grows before our very eyes, nearly doubling in size every day.

The crocuses are still blooming outside, and the daffodils are coming up. So are other plants which I’ve yet to identify — not sure if they’re tulips or day lilies, because I can’t tell by the leaves. There are also green things coming up under the trees all the way at the back, so I have to go and investigate. Keeping the leaves on the beds for winter made them all very happy.

I have a spade, and, once I clean off the pine cones and needles from the long-abandoned vegetable bed, I can turn over the soil and prepare it.

It’s hard NOT to jump out and start planting in the ground, but I’m listening to those who know more than I do and restraining myself. I’m watching the plants that are here, and letting them teach me — the previous tenants paid no attention to them and they managed to survive, so I figure, if I don’t fuss at them too much, and really listen to them, they’ll be fine.

The front looks a little bare, with the bushes so tiny, but I hope to plant a row of bright, cheerful pansies soon, and then add some blue fescue at the back, staggered with the small bushes, towards the end of the month. I bought some garden ornaments, but the scale is too small for the front of the house, so I have to re-think. I wish I could add fences to the property — I’d love to enclose the space with a low picket fence in the front and side, and then plant against it — but, since I’m renting, that’s not an option.

I have to be patient. Not everything can or will happen this year, both for budgetary and for practical reasons. I have to learn what’s here and how to take care of it. A garden doesn’t show up fully formed, unless you hire a landscaper to put it in. It evolves. And, no matter how many books I read of other people’s experiences and ideas, I have to figure out what works for me in MY space.

Devon