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."

Mornings have become so entertaining here on Not Wisteria Lane, now that the irrepressible Bosun has arrived in the neighborhood. There’s always at least one sighting, when she joins her parents to walk their little girl out to the school bus.

It’s the best time of day for a good solid watering (it’s now officially a week since our last fall of rain) of the garden, so I get to see and participate in all the fun.

At the risk of turning this into a blog about dogs, I’ll related the latest. Today, on the way back from the bus stop, there was a convergence of neighbors and Bosun decided to try engaging Sophie in some rough-housing.

Sophie is really the Grande Dame of the neighbor hood and despite her dimi nutive stature, she wasted no time in laying down the law to this younger, over-enthusiastic new generation.

We all laughed as she gave her sternest “arp arp arp” and chased Bosun right out of her yard.

Out of breath and more than a little surprised, Bo came running back out and cowered behind her parents and me in the street. It’s good she’s learning the pecking order in the neighborhood and certainly great fun to watch.

When the watering was all taken care of, my camera and I wandered down the street to explore some of the neighbors’ gardens, particularly the one with the dark iris I spotted on Em’s and my nightly walk.

These pink roses are certainly beautiful, but I was disappointed to discover they have no scent to them. Fortunately, I’d also discovered that our east and west hedges–where the weigela and spirea intermingle–are also home to some of those wild white roses, so the air was already delightfully scented. I told you they were everywhere!!

On the way to the irises, I met another of our neighbors, G. His yard was beautifully gardened by the former owner, and is in a sort of wild, overgrown state these days, but still home to a wonderful assortment of blooms. G admits to not being much of a gardener and also believes that the former owner is more than a little annoyed about what he sees as neglect.

However, the wild state of things there hasn’t discouraged these big oriental poppies even a little. Over the course of the spring, I’ve also spotted an assortment of crocuses, irises, daffodils, hellebores and all manner of other things growing quite happily. Isn’t it nice to see a well-established garden doing its own thing, too?

G told me there was, at one point, a band of wild turkeys who wandered into the neighborhood. All the neighbors were keen to keep them around, until they started marauding and attacking people…which probably explains why I haven’t seen any sign of them during our brief residence here.

Check these red and yellow columbines–pretty fancy, huh? After a nice visit, it was time to mosey along and I came to that big iris, which turns out not to be purple at all, but in fact a very deep, dark red. And yes, it’s true–some irises are scented. This one, to my great surprise, smells of root beer! Amazing!!

I’m not sure if these blue irises are scented or not, as they were located deep in the bed and I didn’t want to trample anything. But they sure are wonderful to behold, and look how nicely they play with the royal blue columbines down in the lower right.

When I returned to the home garden, I was thrilled to discover this swallowtail butterfly looping and diving and soaring over and through the sections of the fence. It seemed as happy to see a garden where there’d been none last year. And I took this activity as a hearty endorsement of my efforts.

After fixing a second cup of coffee, I went back out to the garden to do some more weeding and reviewing, carefully pulling out the little bits of grass while trying to identify and avoid the new seedlings which are coming up all over the place.

I also got the pole beans planted at the base of the sprouted corn stalks, Step Two in the making of the Three Sisters Garden. In addition to the butterfly, I also noted a greater assortment of various pollinators visiting the garden today, as well as some of the first bees I have spotted here so far…definitely good news there.

Being the twelfth of June, today was also my half-birthday. That’s not something I usually celebrate or even take note of, but as it turned out, today was a real nice day for me. I’ll even go so far to say that it was a vast improvement over my actual birthday last December, when I had screwed up my back and was not only hosting Christmas parties at work, but in the process of making the move from Eastham to Harwich.

As it turned out, I had a massage scheduled for the early afternoon, a free one from my pal, British Jane, who’s just getting started. It was quite delightful, not only to have a bit of a visit with her, but also to enjoy a little pampering and relaxation. I’m happy to highly recommend her services–if you live locally and need a massage, send me an email and I’ll hook you up with her real name and phone number so you can make an appointment!

To carry the relaxation theme afterwards, I felt it necessary to see The Ocean today and so I drove to Nauset Beach in East Orleans. I didn’t stay long, as that would’ve entailed me paying for parking and all that (it’s June now, after all, and the government likes to regulate access to the ocean at this part of the Cape, it being the National Seashore and all…), but even just a few moments gazing out at the vastness of the Atlantic was wonderful.

Too soon I was back home and tending to some less glamorous aspects of a day off, such as laundry, dishes, cat box and some window cleaning. But as soon as I could, I made my way back out to the garden, for that fantastic late afternoon light.

I gave the garden another watering, for better picture-taking (the wet soil is darker and photographs better, plus everything glistens a little…) and promptly discovered that my batteries were almost dead, so headed back inside to charge them.

Fortunately, it only takes 15 minutes, but in that time I missed capturing quite a show, naturally. As I stood looking out the front window, I spotted a goldfinch pecking through the dirt near the tomato plant closest to the driveway. It flew over to another tomato, lighting on one of the stakes…and a second, female, goldfinch joined it. Then a third appeared, this one male, and a fourth, another female. Just then a fifth flew across the yard in an up-and-down rollercoaster sort of flight pattern…and a sixth one joined the first four in the garden.

They all took to the garden bed, pecking and rooting through the soil, plucking out little bugs and slugs and worms and seeds and whatever it is they enjoy most. Out in the “lawn”, a juvenal cowbird pecked through the grass.

Such fun to see the Garden so full of life. Flowers are wonderful and all, but they are not the whole picture. This time of year, the garden is a full-on community.

Although it was frustrating to have the show end just as I finally heard the battery charger shut off, it was great to be able to enjoy it. And these catbirds showed up for a visit to the birdbath just as I returned with my camera.

I also had noticed, while I was waiting, that the carnations had begun blooming today, and the dappled sun through the trees was focussed perfectly on this first blossom.

Here’s some of that wonderful purple allyssum. I’ve noticed this week that the allyssum plants I bought at the nursery are now beginning to fade from their first flush of blooming, just as the ones from seed are beginning to flower. What good timing.

So, part of my weeding time has also been spent pinching off the fading flowerheads of those early nursery plants, and scattering their seeds further around the beds, in hopes of creating massive drifts of tiny scented flowers by summer’s end.

Another exciting discover today–several milkweed seedlings have now appeared here and there throughout the garden.

The butterflies will be even more excited than I, as milkweed is one of those plants critical in the support of the monarch lifecycle. Plus, their flowers are wicked cool and weird.

In the back ground of this pansy photo, the first sweet william flower has emerged. But the colors are only just developing, so I will save a nice close-up as something to look forward to on another day.

All in all, a most lovely unbirthday. I hope you all had nice days, too!


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