One gardener's observations, discoveries and random thoughts whilst simultaneously worshipping and dallying in a Cape Cod garden. "A garden," said Ralph Waldo Emerson, "is like those pernicious machineries which catch a man's coatskirt or his hand, and draw in his arm, his leg and his whole body to irresistable destruction."

The Best Remedy

MGT 001“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God.”

MGT 002“Because only then does one feel  that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature.”

MGT 003
“As long as this exists and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be.”

MGT 004“And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.”


This morning’s guest blogger is Annelies Marie Frank (6/12/1929 – early 1945), excerpted from the diary she kept whilst hiding from the Nazis with her family during the German occupation of the Netherlands during World War II.


Lilac Memories

DSC08838They say rosemary is for remembering, but for me, it’s always lilacs.  I think back to try and figure out the first lilac bush I knew.  I can’t recall either of my grandmothers having one in their yard.   Great grandma Berns probably had a couple in her yard, but if so, I don’t remember them from there.

My first lilac of memory was the little bush Mom planted outside the back door of our first house in Wood Ridge.  That was probably the first time I paid attention to the growth of a plant with the passage of time.  I remember it was sort of scrawny when we planted it, but had finally reached a decent size by the time we moved away.  That may have been the first time I was sorry to leave a plant behind (foreshadowing about the eventual back troubles, eh?).

But I have plenty of lilac memories from Long Lake.  There were several large old lilac bushes on the property that with time we re-shaped and rejuvenated, trimming out the oldest branches to encourage the new.  Over the years, we rescued a few others and added a new one or two.

In the heart of the chilly Adirondacks where gardening lasts all of six to eight weeks in a good year, the season comes in not with a crocus here and a daffodil there, and then some tulips and a little while later assorted hyacinths.  Oh, no.  There, Spring seemed to come all at once and more often than not in a pretty rapid crescendo of a couple of weeks culminating in a warm fragrant festival of lilacs around Memorial Day.  If my memory is not mistaken, outside the Members Cottage at the museum we had both purple and white lilacs, the latter even more fragrant.  That wonderful perfume almost made up for the near-simultaneous arrival of the black flies.

I’ve known a variety of lilac bushes here on the Cape, cultivating some, only harvesting from others.  I remember a great lilac round-up one year for a late May wedding with a lilac theme the year they all bloomed so early.  I even know a secret place they bloom.

I think it’s cool to see a great wild-ish planting of lilacs alongside the roadside, with blooms so high you’d need a ladder to clip some.  They are the only remnant of a long-ago dooryard, where someone once planted a scrawny bush in hopes of a few fragrant plumes.
DSC08832In other purple news, the dwarf iris Carolina made her first appearance in the garden for this season.  It looks like there’ll be plenty more to follow as the week progresses, too.

Don’t let the name fool you as to her geographic origins, though.  In one of those rare cross-border plant exchanges that never happen (wink, wink) between gardeners, Carolina came from Alabama with some cardinal climber on her knee.


Dream Season

GHS 001Ahh, this time of year, greenhouses are full of such stuff as dreams are made of.  I’m not sure how I resist as well as I do.  Perhaps I realize that the more I buy during the course of the weekend, the more I must work to get them situated, in the ground or in easily-managed containers.  Part of that realization includes understanding that I may not be capable or interested in hurting myself by the end of the day, so three cheers for me.

GHS 002But you shouldn’t think I can resist temptation entirely.  At that particular nursery, I only walked away with a quartet of moonflower seedlings.  I’ve not had particular luck with them from seed the last couple of years, so I thought I’d give pre-started ones a chance this year.  I have confidence there’ll be NO lack of morning glories, so I’m not worried about them coming along, but some lovely moonflower blooms would be nice as an evening counterpoint.  Until it gets warmer, though, they have a home on the kitchen windowsill.

And the weekend brought plenty of other plants into my “sphere of influence.”  By the weekend’s conclusion – thanks to our plant-swap party and the kindness of a visiting neighbor who brought divisions from her Connecticut garden – I also had some helianthus, lemon mint, centauri, sweet woodruff, asiatic lilies, a couple of irises and a few not-clearly identified things it will be fun to sort out as the season races along.

GHS 003PLUS, I was not entirely able to resist a four pack of (UGH, this annual’s name starts with an A and – despite our long relationship – lives in a perennial dark spot of my mind…not allyssum, or agastache, or agapathus, or allium, or amaranth, or agave, or…AH HA!) ageratum, and a large six pack of some hot magenta dianthus.

GHS 004Here they both are, potted for the deck with a bit of sweet woodruff.  The rest will find their way into the garden soon.

Meanwhile, the lilacs are in full bloom.  I can see that they are and once or twice I’ve had my nose up close enough to enjoy that fragrance.  But our weekend turned windy and chilly, which is whipping away any of the fragrance the plants are exuding.  This evening, I’ll cut some to bring inside and enjoy.

Their season, like our own, is all too brief.


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