Monday, June 16, 2008

Dolce Domum

"Home! That was what they meant, those caressing appeals, those soft touches wafted through the air, those invisible little hands pulling and tugging, all one way...shabby indeed, and small and poorly furnished, and yet his, the home he had made for himself, the home he had been so happy to get back to after his day's work..."
Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

Home should always be sweet, wherever it is. Here are more pictures from my sister’s garden in Michigan. There are very few things that grow equally well in Southern California and central Michigan. So we often exchange pictures and envy what flourishes in one's garden that languishes in the other's. The only thing we have in common below is iris, although my thirsty and anorexic plants make her iris patch look like a jungle to my eyes. Here are M’s pictures with her captions.

I started a bunch of bicolor violets from seed (looked more red and yellow in the catalog) to live around my mailbox, where I need something short. The first flower opened the day I put them in the ground.

The irises just started to open, at the left front of my house. The viburnum beyond them is now about 8 years old and flowering for the first time (just a little topknot of three). There were so many old roots there from the juniper we'd removed that I ended up planting the poor thing in a narrow little clay hole, where it bare survived. It is finally feeling comfy.

To the right of the viburnum is the white rose I used to have in a patio tub. It looks much happier, although I did just spray it for aphids. I bought it on impulse because of its clove-scented blooms, but the super spiny branches tried to kill me every year when I was surrounding it with a cage filled with leaves for winter insulation. No more of that!

To the right of that is the hole where I butchered a too-large viburnum down to movable size and moved it to the back yard.(When that bed starts to fill out, I'll send photos.) In its place is a sad Little Honey oakleaf hydrangea, still barely recovered from its Fed Ex journey. I really need to buy more locally in the future."

The clematis on the lamp-post is much happier since I gave it an inadequate trellis. Behind it, the stupid peony is in bud (stupid, because it can't hold up its own heavy flowers).

I've been too busy working in my own yard, making the most of the lingering chill on mornings to stop and take pictures and blog. As much as I envy M's peony clematis, my own garden always has the sweet fragrance of home, sweet home.

1 comment:

Martha in Michigan said...

Update a couple of weeks later:
The bicolor violets are lovely—not so luxuriant as the red-leaf begonias I usually plant around the mailbox post, but they are perennial and should fill out with time.

The irises are long gone. I had to cut most of them (three vases full at a time) because they were leaning into the neighbor's driveway and being run over in ignominious fashion. Any idea why they get the leans? I have tried dumping more compost over them in the fall so that they are, in effect, buried deeper, to no effect. Are they thirsty? Perhaps I just need to tie them to little individual stakes, even though I tend to resist supporting plants that should be able to hold themselves up.

The white rose needs deadheading to prompt a second wave of flowering. Do I brave the mosquitoes for that? BTW, the little white flowers next to it, which I was taught were "Star of Jerusalem," seem to be something else (since those are yellow). It is a grasslike plant that flowers for 1-2 weeks, a bit later than daffodils, and then the entire thing dies back (including the leaves) and disappears until next spring. Any idea what it is? I can no longer recall its provenance, but I've never seen anything like it in seed/plant catalogs.

The Little Honey is alive! It is producing new leaves, although the original ones have nearly disappeared. I believe it was nibbled by the bunny living in my back patio flowerbed (the one who left a furry nest in the rose hedge), whom I often see nibbling clover next to the patio first thing in the morning. He also has been nibbling my new fence edging of blue and purple dwarf mallows. That's okay, as he can only reach the bottom leaves, and it seems to keep him out of the garden beds. So, a little plastic basket with its bottom cut out now protects Little Honey, and I've added low fencing around the bean and sugar snap patch.

The clematis is reduced to seed heads, which I've read you can actually sprout, if you have patience. And the stupid peony's dead flowers have been clipped off. As usual, stems often broke under their weight before they were even open. I think the double set of supports may make that worse, since the wires encourage breakage over just prostration. It's a good thing it's a nice-looking shrub, or I would have gotten rid of it long ago.

The robins have just about polished off the Bing cherry crop, which I can no longer net from their predations, but the raspberries are covered with nascent fruit — and I get most of them. The annual flowers I planted are still sparse and underwhelming. The Carolina jessamine vine looks unchanged but at least still alive since planting a month ago, but the red trumpet vine is growing vigorously. I am already picking up English walnuts, 30-50 daily. This will continue all summer. I'm not sure if it's thirst or just overproduction, but they always drop more than half the crop before it's ripe. I am thinking of investing in one of those rolling-cage-on-a-long-handle tools to make this task less onerous. If I don't pick them up, the husks turn brown and look exactly like dog products, which are already hard enough to find in the fast-growing grass. The mass maple seeding this year has resulted in groves of little trees to be mowed down weekly, plus the hundreds and hundreds of baby trees I have yanked out of beds so far. At least they don't have enormous tap roots like the walnuts, which require excavation if I let the trees get more than six inches high. I frankly cannot imagine what it is like to live where growing things are rare and delicate, rather than invasive and luxuriant.