Since my last post we’ve celebrated three family birthdays, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, and my oldest son’s graduation from college. My youngest son came home from his first year away at college and my oldest son moved home mid-June. Somewhere in there we took a two-day getaway to Las Vegas after Mike finished a big work project. Next week I leave for a long-anticipated trip to British Columbia and Alberta. I’ll be traveling with my friend Kelly, a dear friend whom I met through blogging nearly eight years ago. I am really looking forward to this trip.
Through it all though, my garden continues to sow content.
We had some brutally hot days in the low 100’s (104 F or 40 C), but it has settled down into cooler temps. During the heat wave I arrived home to wilting hydrangeas and burnt ground cover. The flowers recovered but the ground cover is done till the rains return.
Pink hydrangea looking refreshed
Burnt ground cover after the heatwave
Burnt succulent during the triple digit heatwave
Pink hydrangea dominating the corner
On the subject of rain, we had the loveliest, late-season rain in May, bringing about larger and taller flowers, fuller blooms and a short-term delay in the unbearable heat. It was such a gift.
(name escapes me) purple flower
Miniature yellow roses, a long-ago gift from a friend
Kangaroo paw amid grasses, salvia and the last of the sweet peas
This gladiola grew twice as tall as last year
I spent some early mornings this week pulling out the spent Nigella, also known as Love-in-a-mist and the sweet peas. I let both of them go to seed, reaping the benefits of a self seeded garden each spring. The cornflowers are the last of the self-seeded spring flowers. The bees are still pollinating the remaining blooms while the birds swoop in for the seeds.
Bee pollinating nigella bloom
Cornflower seeds equal happy birds
The darkest of the cornflowers
Sweet peas in rich purples, magenta and lavender
Sweet peas grow amid the perennials
Assorted sweet peas return year after year
I’ve been musing to myself that some of my garden favorites are the ones that return year after year with no effort on my part. They attract birds, bees and admiring neighbors. I get several month’s worth of small garden bouquets, and enjoy sharing the bounty with others.
Now that summer is here, our plums are ripening and the four o’clocks are about to bloom.
My miniature Hobbit garden, planted a year ago in celebration of my New Zealand friends and hosts is also robust.
Miniature succulents filling in
Tiny flower lights from Laura
A tiny violet self-seeded near the Hobbit door
Table and chairs
My miniature Hobbit garden in May, 2018
I’ve added a tiny rusted table and a few flower “lights”, a gift from my friend Laura. I noticed this week that a tiny violet has self-seeded near the Hobbit door. We’ll see how it grows.
The tomatoes are looking promising this year!
Mouse next to the Earthbox tomatoes
Three stages of ripeness
Tomatoes growing skyward
Still grayish green with the spent flowers attached
Red mulch keeps the soil warm and weed-free
Over the years people ask “is your garden a lot of work?” and the answer is always the same. Yes, it can be back-aching work, bending and lifting, pruning and pulling weeds, especially during the hot days of summer. But the work is joyful. It’s not so much the ends but the means. I love working in the dirt, discovering new things, seeing what works and learning from failures. Working closely with nature is uplifting. I marvel at the different shapes and sizes of the bees. I’m honored when a hummingbird comes close, inquisitive and open. I hear the rustle of the lizards and hope the cats will let them be. I laugh at myself when I’m startled by a spider, but I’ve learned to manage that fear while respecting the gifts they bring to the garden. A few ladybugs came for a visit last month and polished off the invading aphids. These are some of my favorite examples of nature at her finest.
I get dirt under my fingernails and sometimes in my teeth. Bruised knees and a sore neck mean I’ve stayed out too long. It takes me a lot longer to get up from the ground, and the pain in my hips reminds me of my advancing age. It’s all worth it for that time in the garden where I find a real connection to this earth.
You may remember that while attempting to cover the four-in-one fruit cocktail tree with bird netting earlier this year, I fell. Yep, just call me Grace. One leg of the ladder sank into the dirt and down I went. I wasn’t seriously hurt, but bruised and scratched enough to abandon the job at hand. Did I mention that I broke the ladder, too?
The tree was partially covered before the fall. I left the excess netting in a pile at the base of the tree. From time to time I tucked in bits of netting around the expanding branches, hoping to confuse the foragers. Would the coverage be enough to save some fruit for my family? Last year the birds and squirrels picked the tree clean. If I hadn’t taken a photo of two beautiful plums the day before, I would have assumed I imagined the whole thing.
It worked! I’ve seen a few nibbles, but most of the fruit is still on the tree, soon to be ripe for the picking.
Netted Fruit Cocktail Tree
Plums and Nectarines
I haven’t baked in pie in a zillion years, but I think it’s time to brush up on my baking skills. The next fruit to set: peaches. Oh my, oh my, oh my!
Please let me know if you have a favorite pie recipe to share.