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."

Sunshine Saturday



Ahh, Saturday morning. I was apparently quiet as I came out the front door with my first cuppa joe today, as I had been sitting for a minute or more, the caffeine slowly prying my eyes open, before I realized that one of my bunny friends was enjoying some of the lawn for breakfast.

We regarded one another for a moment, him doing the big freeze routine, before I wished him good morning and went back to my coffee, and he returned to his grazing.

He continued to nibble around, eating a little plantain here, some clover there, until I was awake enough to get up to connect the soaker hose, and he took off for the woods across the street, behind Sophie’s house, where I believe he and his family have their warren.

It was still a little while after that before I realized that our first morning glory of the season had begun blooming on the street side of the fence.

Here’s a sample of the variety I’m seeing from the portulaca, all in a single photo. These guys are especially loving the sunny location.

Once the watering was finished, I headed off about the rest of my morning, which involved a little shopping on the way into work.

First up was a visit to TJ Maxx, where I picked up a couple new pair of shorts. The summer heat has definitely found us now, and while the garden is thriving, I was getting a little tired of wearing the same old thing.

I found what I was looking for and went to pay. On line behind me was a woman I had noticed earlier in the store, because of the black sequined cowboy hat she was sporting and I turned to compliment her on the hat. We ended up talking, as reasonable people often do to make long lines more bearable (there was air conditioning, so it wasn’t all bad) and I learned that she sells the hats on the internet, to raise money to research Pancreatic Cancer, which took her husband in 2006.

Impressed with her story, I asked for her business card, so I could pass her link along to all of you. After all, while I rarely remember to do so myself, wearing a hat when you’re working in the garden is never a bad idea. If you need a new hat, check out Sue’s: you’ll Love Your Hat.

No, no…the Midnight Gardener was not involved in, or witness to, an accident: this is just the kind of cluster -schmozz that driving looks like here on the Cape now that July’s bearing down on us.

My next stop was a visit to our local farmer’s market, which happens every Saturday morning in summer.

It’s located on Old Colony Way at the far end of the parking lot by Dunkin Donuts and Willy’s Gym.

There’s a great assortment of vendors, offering potted plants for your home or garden, produce, baked goods and other assorted products.

Naturally, I’m usually there to check out the plants and today, I was particularly looking for some of the tiny versions of hens and chicks, for a particular planting I wanted to do. I found these two tiny pots of tiny plants for a dollar a piece, a price you really can’t beat.

Next, I was off to spend the last of some Christmas gift card bling at one of our local nurseries, since I hadn’t yet acquired any marine heliotrope, and it’s a plant I just adore. They had three left, so I scooped them up, as well as a small fuschia plant…I think a variety with a purple center. We’ll see when it blooms.

Here’s the marine heliotrope, which is, by the way, an annual, but totally worth purchasing every year.

As you can see, it puts out these delightful flowerheads of tiny purple flowers. The flower colors cover a range of purple shades across the head, as they lighten as the individual flowers age.

The scent is amazing, and I’m afraid it’s a bit of a challenge to me and my feeble writing skills. I find it to be one of the most extraordinary of garden scents, but it’s also tough to make you understand. I’ve always thought it had a sort of vanilla-esque, sometimes almost a light almond-y scent. But two other people I had sniff these new plants today gave me completely different responses. One suggested it smelled like baby powder, the other chocolat.

I’m beginning to suspect that perhaps the plant actually does something to your pleasure center and makes you smell the thing you like best. All I really know is that, whatever the scent/flavor is, they really ought to try making an ice cream flavor from it. I bet it’d be divine.

I think I’ll continue to ask visitors to the garden for their impressions as the season progresses, and I’ll try to report the various responses here, for your entertainment, if nothing else. Perhaps by Labor Day we’ll have some over-arching sense of this scent.

Late afternoon found the first of these tiny coreopsis flowers beginning to form.

I love these guys with their seemingly never-ending waves of daisy-like flowers all summer. Their bright yellow color is a terrific partner for the white Shasta daisies and the orange daylilies, which are both also blooming now.

I haven’t counted how many stands of this stuff I have now – it seems to be everywhere – but it all started from a little side-shoot I dug out of a friend’s Wellfleet garden when we lived there back in 2001. It’s amazing how it has thrived over the past seven years, moving through three different gardens with us in that time. No doubt the regular divisions have helped spur it along.

The spirea bushes (there’s two) along the fence are also starting to bloom these week. I love the hot pink of these tiny flowers…and they also form these great heads. This plant would probably be big and round like many of it’s relations in the area, but again, this one has moved a number of times with us…and has broken off into several plants during one or two of those moves.

The other day, Afod pointed out some particular attributes that set the daylily I was showing you off from others you normally see. At first, I sort of discounted this, as I believed them to be just sort of standard, that tall orange daylily you see growing just about everywhere alongside the highway.

But I took another look at this second flower, from the same clump and it looks just a little different to me. The petal colors are a little lighter, as are the anthers…and so I’m just not sure. Both those things could be attributed to the fact that one was photographed shortly after opening in the early morning, while the other was photographed at the end of its life, in the glow of early evening. A mystery?

Perhaps not…but there are so many less pleasant things to ponder.

You didn’t think I could resist another look at my magnificent first sunflower today, did you? I’m kind of excited that these guys have decided to start blooming this week, as I am anticipating a visit from Kelly and Carol around midweek, and Kelly is essentially the goddess mother of my sunflowers, having provided the seed packets in the first place!

Their visit is always a highlight of the summer season for me, though it’s coming a little earlier than usual! I wonder who I’ll drink weak margaritas with as summer winds down this year.

In advance of their visit, but also just because it was overdue, this evening I spent some time trimming off the spent roses from the big rose bush and also working at that infinite business of weeding…mostly limiting myself to the witch grass, while I wait for other seedlings to be large enough to identify.

And now that I’ve removed lots of that grass, it’s so much easier to see how well things are doing…lot of big cleome plants and bachelor button plants and sunflowers and asters (I didn’t remember planting asters, I’ll have to go back and look at my seed packets…nope, no asters…hmmm, I could swear that’s what those are…we’ll see…)and two kinds of cosmos, all from seed.

Ah, what a fun garden this is.

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