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."

Summer Days


Well, the days certainly slip by quickly here in July. I never got around to posting yesterday. My computer sort of reminded me recently that there are other things to summertime life besides blogging. You see, I have this CD burner that is usually pretty reasonable, but every now and then, the software that came with it doesn’t recognize the burner…and the best bit is that it usually decides not to see the hardware exactly the week that my photo files start to clog things up and need to be burned to disc. The Laws of Murphy are strong in this one.

Finally, after much futzing, I got the burner working and spent some time burning discs–two of them for the first three quarters of June!!! Anyway, now my hard drive’s all freed up and running a little more smoothly…but between this issue and the connectivity thing, I found myself with that time I was looking for to dive head-first into the Wind in the Willows, as inspired by both Cooper and Patrick…and I just never want to stop reading it now!! Blogging, what’s that?

I can’t remember when I read this book, but it was a terribly long time ago, and so this feels like a brand new thing for me, while also an old friend. You know, you read a book as a child and you take it in on a much simpler level…and then you come back to it later, and you see a completely new pleasure, informed by the years you’ve lived, experiences you’ve had, knowledge gained and people you’ve known. I don’t think my pal Bob would mind or disagree with the assessment that he is not unlike Toad in many ways, for example.

I find it’s a difficult book to read late at night, not only because it keeps hitting me in the face when I fall asleep, but also because, when I’m not tired from a long day, I’m laughing right out loud almost constantly and I’m a little concerned I’ll wake everyone up laughing so heartily. Anyway, if you haven’t read this book recently, get a copy, read it for yourself. Read it to your kids. You won’t be sorry.

Ahem. Okay, hopping down from my Read a Book soapbox, let me show you this beautiful evening primrose that’s starting to strut this week. I didn’t plant these guys, though I may have transported the seed in soil from the old garden.

They are sort of wild and weedy in these parts, but I find them pretty well behaved (and easy enough to yank up if you don’t like the spot they’ve chosen) a wonderful bit of height and color in the summer garden, so I’m happy when they show up here and there.

As the name suggests, the new flowers open up as the sun is setting. Yesterday morning there was one, but I noticed around 10 or so last night (by flashlight beam) that these four had opened, sending their scent out across the night air, teasing night time bugs and moths to come taste…which in turn brings the bats out to swoop around.

Ah, nature.

In the interests of full disclosure, not all of the photos to follow were taken today, but rather, they represent a melange of garden activity during the last thirty-six hours. Like you care.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t look at these portulaca flowers enough. Each day there’s a new array of assorted colors. I’m so glad I didn’t end up with the pack of all one kind of flower that was originally in my hand at the nursery. I’d much rather have all these colors in a random collection.

I’m also sort of tickled to point out a small hedge of about four cleome seedlings in the background, still fairly small, which were born of a second seeding with the remainder of the packet somewhere around mid-June.

While the first flush have yet to actually bloom yet, it’s nice to know this second wave will be coming along to bloom much later in the season, possibly as the early guys begin to fade. I’ve always enjoyed this plant, but haven’t had the conditions to grow it well for a few years. It’s nice to have it around again.

On the Produce of the Future scene, the Three Sisters experiment is going quite nicely. Here’s one of the best hills, featuring a good balance of corn, beans and squash all growing together. You may also note that I should spend some time this weekend doing some weeding around these guys.

You may recall I was eight days late after the Full Corn Moon planting my corn seeds this spring…so it shouldn’t be any surprise that it was five or six days after the Fourth when my corn plants began to reach that knee-high benchmark you’re supposed to have hit according to the old saw about corn growth, Knee-High by the Fourth of July.

Also, while the title seems a shade dubious, the “Early Girl” tomato is making some promises for a first harvest of fruit sometime fairly soon…but not really early by most measurements.

Now, I try to be good about admitting mistakes, and I am reasonably assured that this lovely red rose which I’ve been touting as the return of the often-dead Mister Lincoln tea rose, is not at all that plant.

You see, in Spring of 2007, I bought two rose bushes rather inexpensively at the Ocean State Job Lot. One of them died over the summer, but the other did pretty well, though never bloomed to cement it in memory.

This is that second plant, which I think may have been called Proud Nation, or Proud Land, or something like that, and if I recall(or stumble across the label, which I did tuck into some book or other for safe-keeping. Hopefully it was actually a garden related book.), it’s actually supposed to grow into a serious bush of such blooms. This would be wonderful, as right now it is rather small.

Now, not only did I recently recall that purchase and the survival of the rose, but also Wednesday, this other, smaller red tea rose began to bloom down at the other end of the fence garden, and I realized that this, indeed, was the real Mister Lincoln standing up.

But sadly, Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead.

I found this lovely purple hydrangea blooming under a tangled clutch of bindweed this evening, which I tore out by the handfuls to reveal this lovely flowerhead. This plant is badly crowded by an azalea and a juniper bush and needs to be transplanted to a location where it can thrive a little better.

Also, it’s past time to address the bindweed, which is a little seductive with its pink flowers, but will wrap itself around me and my coffee cup, if I sit for too long in one place. It weaves through all the foundation plantings around the house and will probably completely cover the house one day if left unchecked.

Check out this massive spidery-looking sunflower head. This plant is now just a little taller than my five foot and eleven inch height. I just love the crazy way it looks. This is definitely one of the Russian Gray “giants” who love to get so very tall. Can’t wait to see how high we can go with these!

Along the inside of the fence, another shade of African marigold has begun to bloom. These guys (there are also some in a canary yellow color in the cleome bud photo earlier this week) will eventually get to be about three feet tall themselves.

I like this color. It’s not that pale bright yellow, but it’s not the neon orange. It’s a nice golden cross between the two…and a real bridge between all the other shades of marigolds in the garden.

Here’s one of the gardens down around the bend here on Wisteria Lane. It sort of amuses me, as I think from a distance that this is a statue of Saint Francis, who welcomed all the animals of the world to him. And the garden in his honor, properly fenced to keep the animals out.

I wonder if this bunny was thinking something similar.

I think I’ll post this picture over at BugGuide.net, to see if it’s clear enough for anyone to identify the species of pollinator seen here. I don’t think there are bees with green heads. It would be a real lesson for me to accept the evil Greenhead Flies (of the painful bite) as beneficial to the garden in the absence of more bees.

[EDIT, 7/12/08: First response to my posting at BugGuide suggests this is a halictid bee…which I’d never heard of before. They are also called sweat bees, which I have heard of previously. Other photos I’ve now seen indicate their entire bodies are green, sometimes. Join me, won’t you, in a brief education on the subject (and some much better photos) here.]

I did see a nice group of honeybees flitting about the roses outside the bank in Eastham the other day and that was a bit of a relief for me. I’ve still not seen a single honeybee in Harwich. Have you seen this? (Thanks, Curt!)

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