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."

So, the lily of the valley I recently transplanted has begun to bloom. I’m sorry I’ve not moved more of it in yet, but that is the bed where the poison ivy was found, so caution before further digging is required.

I am now beginning to suspect that everyone who has Poison Ivy for the first time starts out suggesting that it seems to be a pretty mild case, as I had been. Of course, the stuff’s insidious, and seems now to have spread a bit…the back of my neck is all rashed out, and as I write this, my forehead is feeling uncomfortably itchy. Ugh. I should just dip myself in calamine lotion.

This evening and tomorrow, I shall explore other remedies. Suggestions are most welcome from the sadly-experienced.

Despite the itchiness, I did get some more annual seedlings planted this evening: I made the start of a few drifts of sweet white allyssum, and then planted some of those tall marigolds I enjoy, and finished off with some calendula, whose daisy-like flowers is assorted shades from the yellow side of the color wheel are always welcome (and their flowers are a tasty treat for George the rabbit, assuming any of his wild cousins in the neighborhood overlook them).

When you’re still learning in the garden (and I don’t know anyone who isn’t…), you can’t help but scoff a little when you hear old gardeners say something like “Oh, once you plant verbena bonariensis, you’ll always have it.” I mean, how could that possibly be true?

Ah, but it is, my friends, and one of the side benefits of me cruising nurseries lately is that I see pots of things for sale, and they help me to identify the things I’ve got going on at home. And trust me, I am seeing lots of these flat-leafed seedlings in the area around where the original VB was planted last year…and possibly further afield than that.

Am I troubled by this? Nah, I couldn’t be happier. It’s a great plant that works with just about anything else you have going on in a sunny garden bed. And like the foxglove, I can dig them up and move them around to where I want them…which I will definitely be doing, now that I’ve spotted them.

While planting, I also discovered a chipmunk tunnel going down into the ground between clumps of shasta daisy in the back garden this evening. The roots of the plants seem undisturbed, at least so far. I’m kind of excited about this, actually: that they would be interested in living in my garden, well, it’s sort of a tribute.

Oh, sure, I know…there are lots of “gardeners” who’d have none of this, and they’d be out there sliding shotguns into the hole like Elmer Fudd, or walking around the garden beds with great poison dusters with giant plungers at the end like Scrooge McDuck. And it’s people like that who’re killing off the bees…and the birds…and who knows how many other species.

I’m perfectly content to share the garden with everyone. To my mind, they are part of the natural world, same as us…but in their presence, I feel a bit like a privileged guest who doesn’t mind following some rules. It’s more fun to work in a garden that’s alive, so while I’m planting seedlings, I can see an oriole rooting through a pile of debris for nesting supplies…or watch the cowbirds foraging in the mulch from yesterday’s mowing.

Any day now (it’s always been this week), I expect to hear the rustling of leaves in the garden’s perimeter that tips me off to Crackey’s appearance. For new readers, Crackey is the name I’ve insensitively applied to the eastern box turtle who lives out there. His shell has been epoxied after some accident or other damaged him. If you check the archives, it’s always Memorial Day week when he makes his first appearance.

As far as I’m concerned, I find Crackey’s arrival to be a much nicer sign of the season’s turn than the impending traffic and crowds, soon to make nursery runs that much longer!


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