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."

Morning came a little suddenly this morning. It was a day off and an overcast one at that, so I had designs on staying a-bed a little later this morning, enjoying the cool feeling of the pillow against my face as I dozed a little longer. But there were dreams bizarre (Years ago I kept a notebook beside the bed and would write down all I remembered the moment my eyes flicked open. It was always amazing to re-read them later on, when the thin memories would be gone like morning mist. I always recognized my handwriting when I’d read back that night, but the dreams recorded were brand new to me by then. I must start doing this again.) and an over-eager neighbor’s car horn, which conspired together to have me awake by 7:14. Sigh.

Fortunately, there was one of those blue morning glories I like so to greet me out on the fence.

Here’s another glimpse of these pretty purple flower stalks known alternately as gay feather or blazing star (liatris spicata).

This was a plant which pre-existed us here. I haven’t grown this before, but I do like what it’s doing so I think I’ll make an effort to always have some in the future.

Plus, gay feather? Between that and the purplyness, clearly, it belongs in my garden. It is, by the way, related to the sunflower, ‘though you might never guess.

After a little watering and the usual review of the garden, I had an enjoyable long distance “cawfee tawk” call with Mom, in which we discussed the house she and Dad are buying in Connecticut and what new gardening possibilities it may bring, among other things.

While we were chatting, a hummingbird made a quick visit to the lantana hanging overhead on the porch. But the camera was deep in my pocket, so that’ll be an image for another day.

Our corn stalks are all growing steadily. A few of them shot up their tall flower tassels last week, and this morning, the first wild spray of silk appeared lower on the first of those cornstalks.

It’s always such a cool sight, but I’m not sure I’ve seen reddish-pink silks like this before. I just love the chaotic beauty of it, all these different varieties of plant sex to admire. : )

Owen’s got a vegetable patch going strong on the side of Mount Dump-it. I’ve been remiss in sharing photos of it, but there are wonders to be seen. The Roma Tomatoes are pacing the still-green Early Girls in the front garden. Squash and zucchini vines (nursery purchases) have already begun producing fruit and the eggplants are starting to do the same.

Most remarkable, however, are the watermelon vines, where already three or four golf-ball sized fruit have appeared.

Here’s that morning glory vine that escaped from the fence post and is rambling its way through the garden. It’s made a nice trellace of a pair of shasta daisies, but it will be disappointed when these flowers are dead-headed before long.

Down at the “wild end” of the border, where more native species are planted, the first of many delicate thistle blossoms opened this morning.

Aren’t they lovely?

As I mentioned yesterday, the dianthus are returning for another round of flowering in the lower front edges of the fence garden. I just love this pink flower. At a distance, it doesn’t look so remarkable, but when you get up close and look at the detailed pattern, it’s just a little amazing.

Of course, I think that about these red guys, too.

Down below is my tiny agastache plant. It’s actually a side shoot rescued from a much older plant, now deceased(we bow our heads), which I bought about eight years ago.

These guys are related to mint, I believe, though share none of that plant’s aggressive nature. The leaves and flowers are scented of licorice and the bees just love them.

When this plant’s ancestor was fresh from the nursery, it grew to an astounding and unexpected height of about eight feet. I don’t think I have to worry about such from this young-in for another year or so. But I’m pleased to see it doing so well.

I enjoyed the day off, getting to spend a little extra time tending to the garden and some house chores, as well as just relaxing and reading a little more.

It was, by the way, Day Five of the no cigarettes thing…and while I had an urge or two, they were easily pushed aside and it was another good day in that respect.

A sign of the time of the year, there was still plenty of dead-heading to be done today. I cut out about a third of the daisies, which had passed their prime, among assorted other things.

But it was careful work, since I was getting to do so around mid-afternoon, when I am usually at work, and the garden was just swarming with pollinators of all shapes and sizes. I think that’s a wasp on the daisy there, but I’m not entirely sure from the angle.

This pair of flirty frittelaries fluttered a pas de deux all along the fence and through the breeze-bouncing blossoms there.

I saw a monarch butterfly, but he didn’t stay very long, perhaps because of the breeze…but it could be he was just casing the neighborhood for the first time, too. I imagine he’ll be back on a less breezy day.

There were bumblebees everywhere. They are quite fond of the sunflowers, and there seems always to be at least one of them on each of the current flowers.

At one point, a large sphinx moth flew up from the grass near my feet and zig-zagged his way through the fence, landing briefly on a sunflower before darting off into the sky.

This wasp (or is it a hornet?) was eager to taste some of the cone flower’s wares, but seemed to know that the bumble had been there first and it’s always polite to wait your turn.

And then, as I bet over to trim a few faded pansies, I heard it.

It’s funny, you don’t realize how well you know a particular sound until you haven’t heard it in a while…but my ear keyed in on the different sound right away and I was quite happy to spot what turns out to be the first honeybee I’ve seen in this garden, who was happily drinking of these tiny wild mustard flowers.

The Queen Anne’s lace, as I mentioned last night, has really come into its own this week, with new flowers appearing daily on plants that grow fuller each day.

Their delicate-looking flowers are always a great addition to my chaotic border, being so different from everything else there. If you want some, they are easy to welcome–just cut a few of the challis-shaped fading flowerheads from roadside plants and drop them into the bed where you’d like them.

It’s really that easy.

…so the Mole drew his arm through Toad’s, led him out into the open air, shoved him into a wicker chair and made him tell him all his adventures from beginning to end, which Toad was only too willing to do. The Mole was a good listener, and Toad, with no one to check his statements or to criticize in an unfriendly spirit, rather let himself go. Indeed, much that he related belonged more properly to the category of what-might-have-happened-had-I -only-thought-of-it-in-time-instead-of-ten-minutes-afterward. Those are always the best and the raciest of adventures; and why should they not be truly ours, as much as the somewhat inadequate things that really come off?

–Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows, copyright 1908, 1999.
Tonight, I feel like I need to offer a disclaimer. When I started this blog, I really didn’t know much about “blogging” or exactly what I was hoping to do. I knew I wanted it to be about my garden…and so I started there. Back then, any personal content was minimal, since I’m not a plant and so didn’t quite fit my own initial criteria for blog-inclusion.

But to think that a blog about the Garden wasn’t also about the Gardener was really sort of silly, I’ve discovered…and as little bits of me have crept into the narrative, I find it’s become more enjoyable to write. And so you know plenty of assorted things about me and my life (although only one of you has ever noticed or at least mentioned that I failed to include a #26 in my Hot 100 List!).

But I also still believe you come here for the garden and so I try not to wear you down with too many of the assorted less-than-rosey things Life tosses my way (as it does to each of us). After all, we all have our own reasons for what draws us to the Garden. I spend a bit of time “developing” the pictures, to make sure you get the best photos…and the garden provides the rest of the good stuff.

But no one’s life is all rose-scented air and fluttering daisies, and like Mr. Toad, I may sometimes exaggerate a little for the sake of entertainment, or occasionally gloss over (or omit out of hand) the annoying or unhappy bits.

But I can assure you that all I have presented is more or less accurate. These are pictures from today, not last year…and not someone else’s blog. The morning glory is really blue, the lightning really was purple. The sun truly was a fleeting visitor today.

I was sadly informed by a fellow blogger this evening that “Nicky Cooper” of the blogs Cooper’s Corridor and more recently Nico’s Niche, has been plagiarizing content of another blogger…and boy, is she pissed about it. And understandably so.

I will admit there were times, reading both of Nicky’s blogs, that the whole business felt “too good to be true” somehow, and I found myself involuntarily wondering if it wasn’t all a fiction. And you know, if it had all been entirely made up, I’d have been okay with that. I’m all for creative writing. But there are few things I find more heinous than stealing another writer’s ideas and words…and photographs…and claiming them as your own. Anyone who comes by them honestly knows how difficult and precious it can be to tease just the right ones from one’s mind…and to do so before you’ve managed to miss an entire night’s sleep for blogging.

But you see, more than angry for being played the Fool (along with others), I’m a little sad, because Cooper’s Corridor was a gateway for me to a host of wonderful bloggers who feel to me at times like some sort of extended family…and I think I wasn’t alone in feeling like Cooper was the hub of our wagon wheel. The optimist in me believes that the internet has the potential to make our Big Bad World a smaller and friendly place…and getting to know so many of these people bears that out.

And I’m sad because I think (tho I also concede that in light of all this, “Nicky Cooper” may, too, be a fiction) at the heart of the re-constituted material was a real guy, with real heart who loves trees and the natural world…who didn’t realize that we might’ve loved him for who he was, and for what he chose to write about from his own life.

If he is a real person, then real, original and sincere apologies are owed(even tho it must be assumed that some if not many will question that sincerity)…first and foremost to Kate at Sweet/Salty, but then also to the many loyal readers who regularly clicked in to visit his world and so vehemently defended him in the face of faux bullying last winter. And one last apology is due, to Joe.My.God, for letting him believe that a post on his blog had been responsible for the cancelling of Cooper’s Corridor.

With all this on my mind, I found myself at First Encounter Beach this evening, hoping for perspective as I walked the shore in the burning rays of the setting sun. Ah, well. It’s a beautiful a spot even on an overcast evening. If you “embiggen” this, you might be able to find the one tiny patch of orange light in a sky of gray.


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