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."

Spring Showers


Our April Showers got a jump on us this year, gusting into town on Sunday, a full three days before the official turning of the calendar page and pretty much washing out the second half of the weekend.  There was even a little thunder and lightning to make things interesting.  This gives me hope that perhaps the May Flowers will be a little early, too.

bouquet-of-spring-1Even though I know spring is bursting out all around us, it can’t be any surprise that I’m a little over-eager for more spring…and I’d like it now, please.   So I couldn’t really resist the great low prices on cut spring flowers at Trader Joe’s last week.  No, I’m not working for them…but I become a bigger fan of the place every time I visit!

I had hoped to accomplish much with this week’s Monday off.   However, the problem of my inconstant internet connection raised it’s head again…it’s been a problem for all of the winter, but only truly an issue on days/evenings when the wind’s blowing.  Anyone who lives on Cape Cod can tell you that’s nearly EVERY DAY, of course…so it’s been pretty annoying.

Anyway, the time for kvetching is past, I’m happy to say, since I finally made the acquaintance of the cable guy who was going to take the time to listen to the problem’s description and figure out the logical causes of the problem.   On his first visit that day, he replaced the modem, which we both agreed was potentially the cause.  The problem seemed briefly to be solved, but returned moments after he’d left  It was when he returned an hour later, he found the real source of the trouble – a previous technician’s shortcut – and fixed it in moments.


Typically, the moment I had my full, blindingly-fast broadband connection fully available to me again was the same moment I realized there was actually very little I wanted to do online at that moment.  And so I turned my attention to transplanting the most enthusiastic of the sweet pea seedlings, three of whom were almost four inches tall.  First I bundled up and headed out into the rain to gather a trio of stick which would work well together as a trellace.

(Actually, I’ve discovered in the last couple days that a WHOLE LOT OF PEOPLE spell the word for a small arrangement of lattice designed for a plant to climb upon this way: “trellis”.  I find instances of both spellings about evenly across the Internet, so until I can consult some higher authority if there is one, there are apparently two accepted spellings.)

Four seedlings really felt like the right number for this pot, but only three had proven themselves particularly enthusiastic so far, so the fourth is this smaller guy, a rookie picked off the bench, given a chance to prove himself in the big leagues.

Gahhh, forgive the sports metaphor; I really don’t know what came over me.  Anyway…this little shoot is the understudy given the chance to shine on opening night, let’s say.  We’ll watch and see how he performs.


Perhaps I might’ve been able to leave the sweetpeas outside.  They are pretty hardy.  But since they got their start in the sheltered climes of indoors, I’ll take my time hardying them off to their eventual home out on the porch.  I haven’t grown sweet peas in a bunch of years, so I’m interested to see what I might expect from their vines.   I think it’s possible that four of them could be pretty happy on this small tr- uh, climbing place I’ve made for them.  But I will be happy to give them more space to climb if summer reveals a pressing need for such open spaces.   I know the morning glories will need that when they get going!

I’m playing more music here in the Nest this week.  I recently watched an episode of Mythbusters in which they performed an experiment on a crop of pea plants, dividing them into different sealed greenhouses and exposing them to different sounds to see if they could prove or disprove the theory about talking to plants.  You can imagine I watched with great interest.

I don’t always talk out loud to my plants.   It is an often silent, but adoring psychic encouragement which I offer them, my support visible in the multiple times in the course of the day I check on my green growing pals to see what progress they may’ve made while I was looking elsewhere.  But I’ll admit I do sometimes murmur sweet nothings to them as I stroke their leaves or inhale their fragrances.  So I was quite intrigued with this experiment.

A control group of plants were left in a silent greenhouse, poor things.  In another greenhouse, an audio tape of someone speaking sweet happy encouraging things to the plants, while another featured an audio loop full of vitriol, telling the plants how worthless they were, how they’d never amount to anything and shouldn’t even bother pushing their way up through the dirt.   In still another greenhouse, classic music was played, and to balance that, another offered heavy “death” metal “music” to rattle the pea trellaces/trellises.   Every greenhouse’s plants were fed a controlled and identical amount of water and nutrients from a centralized system, ensuring everything but their aural environment was the same.


I half-expected the metal music to be the big winner, because the vibrations kept the leaves from gathering dust or something and thereby maximise the plants’ chlorophyll production.  Perhaps there’s something to that.   The greenhouse where the plants were kept in absolute silence hosted the least performers.  Those plants were puny and fitful.   All the other plants were larger and healthier than the silent control group, even the ones who’d been verbally abused.  But the ones for whom music had been played boasted the greatest plant mass when weighed, and the peapods they produced were sweeter tasting than the ones which had only been spoken to or yelled at.

I sort of wanted them to have another group of plants, which were played sounds from nature:  birdsong, rushing water, winds, that sort of thing, to see how Nature’s Music stacks up against the manmade stuff.  I’d like to think the cardinals and chickadees and howling coyotes and muttering winds all have their role to play in the garden chorus.

We did enjoy some sunshine yesterday – the 31st – as March remembered its manners and took note of its having arrived in a manner leonine thirty or so days ago, and so affected a more lamblike demeanor for its last hours.

turkey-vultures-2Here’s a pair of turkey vultures sitting on the chimney next door in yesterday’s early sunlight.   I’m told three of them came flying out of the upstairs of the old barn on our property, but these two lingered long enough for a photo or two.

I couldn’t help but be amused that they should appear just as I was sitting down with my checkbook and some bills to be paid.


This just in (ha, I love typing that):

Late breaking word has reached the Midnight Garden tonight, and I am pleased to announce – and this is no April Fool’s joke – that two of my favorite bloggers made honest men of one another today, when Marc and Jess ran off to Connecticut (god, it sounds so respectable…) and tied the knot.

Congratulations, guys – Double Happiness to you both!!


Comments on: "Spring Showers" (13)

  1. I love the picture of the turkey vultures. I know they are not the prettiest of bird but I love to see them soaring on the wind. Any way, I’ll let you go. Great post by the way!

  2. Very interesting post. I’ll have to start playing some music for my seedlings for sure. I usually talk sweet nothings of encouragement to them, but I can give them musical accompaniment also.
    Hope your trellaced vines do well on their trellises.
    And good luck to Marc and Jess. Sounds very romantic!

  3. Aww…thanks! Love the shot of the turkey vultures.

  4. Wow! Congrats to Marc and Jess!! I’ll have to surf over to their blogs and congratulate them. Thanks for the heads-up.

    If it makes any difference, I’ve always used the “trellis” version. Google Chrome spell check does not like the “trellace” version. If it matters.

    I agree with the plants that classical music is good for healthy development. The good stuff always helps my state of mind. Mythbusters is one of the few shows I like to watch on the telly. They do such fun stuff.

  5. That’s cool about the mythbusters show. I remember reading about an experiment in the 70’s where they showed that someone just thinking about cutting the plants branches caused the plant to “panic” and jolting with electricity. Sentient beings!

  6. Maybe someone should do a study to see how plants grown in natural settings like the one you describe compare with plants grown by the sides of highways, and other places with lots of loud human-produced noise. I guess it would be hard to control for air quality and other variables in such an experiment. The plants by a highway are going to have to deal with more exhaust, more oils spills and such. I guess the fact that silence was the least conducive to growth tells us something about all this.

  7. adkchrisshaw said:

    Cool post! With all the acoustic music around here we ought to look like the Amazon Rain Forest,… if the music theory holds true! Those buzzards look like a couple of members of the previous administration I met up at Topridge,…but they’re better looking, the buzzards I mean.

  8. I really could use some spring time weather.

  9. I loved the MythBuster’s segment on talking to plants that you described. Perhaps, the plant kingdom has better taste and feelings than we could have imagined.

    Congratulations to Marc and Jess as well. Steve and I were married for a year once when Oregon had marriages and 3000 of us tied the knot to only have it annulled one year later by an Oregon judge. We are now, “Domestic Partnered.” That sounds so weak compared to the word, Marriage, doesn’t it. Perhaps, sometime we will be married again. It’s been 28 years together, one would think that meant something to those bigots stopping us at every turn.

  10. Ran into your blog garden the other night. I became envious that you are getting spring, even in chilled Cape Cod, and yet on the other side of the continent (Seattle) we are locked in our second consecutive cold spring.

    However, now today it has suddenly (and finally) jumped up to 70. Every thing is so late (again) this year meaning there will be this big catch up bloom where there are so many things happening at once that I will miss a few treasures entirely. That happened last year – I wandered up to prized plants only to catch the dregs of the spring orgasmic bloom.

    Nice to see others (especially gay others) who enjoy gardens. I am never disappointed by the recent (on the evolutionary time line) appearance of flowers. They certainly give mammals a run for their money.
    Time to go out into the sun now. It has not been warm since last fall. Will

  11. TJ’s to the rescue again…Mine was advertising “bouquets of spring,” or something like that. I think your bouquet says it pretty clearly.

    On April 1 there were some British news stories about the Royal Horticultural Society recruiting readers to tape recitations that they were then going to play to the plants to see whether like being talked to. They swore it wasn’t an April Fool’s issue but it sounds like Mythbusters did the research for them already.

    And for your friends…I’m so happy for them. When John and I wed last June it was an amazing moment we’ll never forget. With California’s legal case now at the mercy of the Supreme Court, we’ll see where it all ends up, although we’ll forever consider ourselves married. Well, at least there are other states if worse comes to worse, including that recent Iowa case–Iowa of all places. Good for them. We lose some here, but others jump forward to take their place. The world is changing, all right. But could we progress a little faster, please?

  12. Interesting post and lovely pictures. Those turkey vultures look intimidating.

  13. rethoryke said:

    I’m just so amused that the image label for your first flower in this post was “Dark Pansy” — it sounds like a splendid gothic name for a gay villain in a 1980s issue of _The Brave and the Bold_.

    A gay villain, the heck you say. Gives a whole new meaning to the expression, “It’s curtains, Mugsy…”

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