How Does My Garden Grow? Not sure, but it’s Growing!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011
New Moon in Gemini
Solar Eclipse at 5:16 PM
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Celtic Tree Month of Hawthorn
Sunny and pleasant

What a busy time! First, Spring dragged its feet getting here; now, everything needs to be done at once!

I can’t keep up deadheading the rhododendron; there are too many, and it’s too time-intensive. I just do as much as I can each day that I can, and that will have to do.

I still have not found my mowing Zen, although I’m getting better at the physical aspects of it. And wrestling with that heavy mower means no jiggly arms — they are toned for summer tank tops! Look for the bright side, right?

The back meadow looks awesome when it’s mown!

The irises are starting to bloom! Iris is my favorite flower — heck, I even have a cat named Iris! However, the Very Expensive Iris I bought from White Flower Farm — the Moonsilk, black, and SuperEgo — not much happening there. The black iris vanished, the Moonsilk is dying, and the SuperEgo — not sure what’s going on there. Disappointing.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned this year — get everything locally. The local growers have to deal with you because we live and work alongside each other, so they are going to make sure they sell you something that won’t keel over in ten minutes!

The herbs I bought as plants and repotted are doing well. The lobelia is not coming up in the urn, so I will get some flowers, such as petunias or geraniums (the pelagorums, probably, not the cranesbill) and fill the urn with that. An empty urn out front just looks sad.

The yarrow and echinacea are starting to sprout, so there’s hope. I think I have a pair of male hollies, rather than a male and a female, as they were sold. We’ll find out — if Princess has berries, I’ve got the mixed set; otherwise . . .

I’m madly in love with my witch hazel plant, and need to repot the small lilac. The big limb that broke off my in-ground lilac, which the nursery said would quickly die, is thriving in its bucket of water, so I plan to enjoy it for as long as possible.

Most of the vegetables are in the veggie bed — I hope they survive and thrive. The tomatoes still need to grow a bit stronger before I plant them, but the pots are already prepared, with marigolds and basil.

The strawberries are blossoming like crazy, so maybe we will have some strawberries, even if they’re late.

I love going out every early morning, tending the garden, and then sitting with my morning coffee. The squirrel still races next door, takes two leaves of something, and comes back. He’s checked out my veggie bed, but left it alone. He came right up to the deck yesterday, while I ate lunch, and I tossed him a blueberry. He caught it and dashed off.

I named the woodpecker Carlos, and we have a little morning and evening ritual, where he’s at work, I call to him, he comes and stares at me, then goes back to work. The seven crows in the front leave the owl in the back alone, but they mobbed a hawk that tried to invade the territory the other day. They also tell me when the mailman’s here. Gossipy little things, aren’t they?

I’m in a battle with ants, who’ve pockmarked the front lawn to an alarming extent. I was told I could get rid of them by pouring boiling water down the holes, which seems cruel, but I don’t know what else to do. However, it also kills the grass. I have to call the owner and have him deal with it — that’s why I’m a renter!

The poppies and the morning glories didn’t come up — I waited too long to plant them. I should have started them inside — I’ll know for next year.

I love to sit on the deck in the evenings, with a glass of wine, reading a book, or just sitting there, listening. There’s a lot to which to listen.

Devon

Light and Weather


This isn’t my yard (unfortunately) ;). It’s a shot of Long Pasture Sanctuary, near by

Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Full Moon in Cancer
Rainy and cold

I’ve stood at the windows a lot during the past few weeks and watched the light change over the yard, both front and back. Ellen Dugan suggests this in her wonderful book GARDEN WITCH’S HERBAL. I haven’t yet made drawings, but that will come in February, when the light’s around longer.

I need to figure out where the different growing areas are in regards to light. The slightly raised vegetable bed created by the previous owner still gets sun almost all day, sometimes direct, sometimes less so, even with the trees that have grown in the 20+ years since the owner lived here. Light streams all morning into my writing room, at the front of the house, and it’s still very bright in the afternoon, even when the sun is more indirect. The lilacs and roses and forsythia will be happy about that.

Most of what I’ll do is container gardening, but there are in-ground bushes and plants already there which I’d prefer to steward than kill, so I have to learn about them and what they need. It seems the previous owner didn’t pay any attention; most of the plants were on their own and seemed to do pretty well, so I don’t want to fuss at them too much.

Part of the back is terraced. The rest is both rather pizza pie-shaped (as opposed to, say, apple pie-shaped) and what would be the crust edge slopes past the terraced area. There’s a line of trees at the far end of the property, and a blotch of what wants to be a wood at the point of the pie, sort of between the line of trees and the neighbor’s curved back of his property (yeah, I don’t quite get it, either).

I’m also learning just how dependent I am on the weather. In New York, the weather would be awful. The producers didn’t want to lose ticket sales or have to refund money, so we had to trudge through blizzards so “the show could go on.” Trust me, it’s not noble, it’s all about the money. People look at the weather report, add another scarf, hope the waterproofing on the boots holds up, go out in it, get stuck in it for hours or days, and can’t get to where they were supposed to be anyway.

It’s not that people are intimidated by weather on the Cape. But they respect it, which is a hugely different attitude than back in New York. In New York, weather is an obstacle; here, it’s a partner, and it’s the dominant partner in your life. You have to adjust what you do and how you do it according to the weather.

When a foot of snow is dumped on the area, people stay home (unless they’re in emergency response positions or plow drivers), schools are closed, and they let those responsible for clearing the streets and keeping things safe do so — without interference. When a bad weather report comes on, there’s no mad dash to the grocery store — people stock up throughout. There’s no sense of panic. They hope the power stays on, but have enough batteries, or maybe even a generator, just in case. They have electronics, but there are a stack of books on the table and those old games they inherited from their parents that usually only come out to entertain guests in the summer when it rains.

They get on with it, but don’t necessarily force their way through it.

It’s much healthier, all the way around.

I have to make another round trip to CT in the next few days. The reports of the next snowstorm change every few hours. Soon, I have to make a decision on how to avoid it, where the window will be that will let me slip through in the best conditions, so I’m not one of the morons who ignored the report and “didn’t think it would be that bad.”

I’m learning how to partner with the weather.

What I learn now will help me steward the property and my garden in the coming months.

Devon

A Lot of Work Ahead of Me

Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Celtic Tree Month of Birch
Sunny and cold

I have a lot of decisions ahead of me. I have a reasonably large space in the front yard, and a quite large space in the back yard, and I have to decide what to do with them, come spring and summer.

I don’t own the place, so I’m limited in the amount of in-ground planting I can do; most of it will be container. There are some new bushes in the front, at least some of them azalea. There’s a rhododendron on the side of the house, some bushes that I hope are forsythia, a pair of oaks in front I’ve nicknamed “Gemini”, and oak, pine, and cedar in the back.

There’s a raised planting bed that was once used for vegetables; I’m watching the light move across it on sunny days, trying to figure out if I can use it as is, or if the trees around it have grown up so tall it won’t get enough light.

The front looks rather bare; the two small Alberta Spruces I bought to flank the door help, and I’ll probably leave them there until I get some planters with blooms in for spring. I’m tempted to put a stone bench in front of the oaks, and get a sundial for the front, along with arrangements of containers. It’s a reasonably safe neighborhood, but there’s still the worry that stuff left in the front could be stolen.

I want at least one gazing globe for the back, some statuary, an assortment of plants and, especially culinary and medicinal herbs. I also need patio furniture and a lawn mower, and it all needs to be done on a budget.

I’m not quite sure yet what I’ll do, and I know I won’t get it all right the first time. “Enchanted cottage garden” is pretty much my style, with one of two light touches for formal. I want it comfortable and interesting without looking too forced. Plus, I’ll make mistakes as I learn, and things will die or not look good and I’ll have to try something else.

And I’m on a budget.

So I’m reading everything I can get my hands on, trying to figure out what grows best here, what I can grow in containers, and keeping my eyes open on Craigslist and in the papers for sales, etc.

It’s a little intimidating, but it will also be fascinating to see how it evolves.

Devon