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."


Sunday lived up to its name this time around and actually was bright and sunny for a change.   I should have gotten out much earlier in the day, but was out late celebrating life with some delightful friends.  In the process, a few glasses of wine – for the good of my heart – were consumed, to the dismay of my head – and so Sunday’s start was not the earliest.  Some of the headache can easily be attributed to the sinus pressure that spring time brings, as well, of course.  But there was a little wine.


I had plans for Sunday, though.   With an odd gift of sunshine, it was my plan to whip the garden bed out front into shape.   I’d recently discovered a great cache of old bricks P had stock-piled on the property and gotten permission from her to use them as garden edging.   There’s all kinds of things growing out there and I’ve been wanting to clean things up a bit and put a fresh face on it all, as the season progresses.

I’ve also been feeling a little meh lately, my thoughts wandering back to gardens planted and left in the past.  As much as it’s often a comfort to know that I’ve left part of myself behind to pretty up so many different places, I do sometimes indulge myself the notion of what my garden would look like if they were all one massive garden that I’d been toiling in all these years.   It’s not that there’d be less to do in the springtime, but I wouldn’t have to keep doing some things over and over again!

Ah, well.   Fresh starts can be good things…and this one has been pretty enjoyable, all in all.


So, here’s the garden bed which is the “official patch” associated with my apartment.

You may recall I planted a number of things in here in the fall.  I hadn’t quite remember all of what I put in there, honestly, so some of my discoveries this week (particularly the columbine) were surprises.   There’s also heliotrope, rudbeckia, mums, irises, sage, some dianthus, a snapdragon and some threadleaf coreopsis that I planted, as well.  The rudbeckia and mums both had dried seedpods that I broke up as I cleaned out the bed.  Nothing wrong with encouraging some new seedlings.

Additionally, there’s a cluster of what I think might be money plant at one end of the bed, and also some leaves which look promising like some kind of mallow.

Time will tell.



I always like a little bit of an edge on a garden, to protect the plants within from a wandering foot or lawn mower.  I’d not brought any of the rocks from the old garden, so finding the bricks was really kind of exciting.  I should do a search to see if I can find out anything about them or where they were manufactured.   They are old, all marked “S & H“, and I was pleased when I started laying them out to discover that there were more than enough of them to do this bed well.


When I turned over the soil at the edge of the bed to make digging the bricks in a bit easier, I did expand things a little as I weeded, on the non-driveway side of the fence.  That’s the southern side, so even though it will often be in the shade of the house, it will also get some bright sunshine in the afternoon into evening, though it won’t get the blazing, morning-to-evening sun I had last year.  Still, I have hope that I might be able to coax a couple sunflowers here, among other things.

Most of the bricks are half-buried, for the look I wanted, but I left a few buried flush with their imprinted side up on the southern edge.   I like being able to have a place to step, or at least a flat place for a candle lantern or a flower pot to change out during the season.  Plus, I like the way it looked.



As I finished off my work on the bed, a cardinal sang a sweet song high in the tree across the yard, seeming excited by my efforts.  I had discovered a small shovel with a broken handle when I moved in last fall.   I was in between shovels and so I made use of it until I was able to buy a new spade of my own.   The broken one was still hanging about, so I stuck the broken end of it into the ground with the blade up for a bit of whimsy.  I bet I can find a morning glory that would climb that in short orde

The white bits you see around the planted shovel and elsewhere in the garden are the oyster shells from the dozen I was gifted last month.   They’ll add a bit of calcium to the  bed, but they also represent for me the promises of this new life:  they were gifted by new friends and represented me trying something new (the shucking)…so they’re a bit of a talisman for this new garden effort, too.

It’s hard to explain how it felt to have spent the day with my hands in the dirt, not bringing order so much as organizing the chaos.  And it’s not just the dirt, its the whole experience.   The blackbirds singing showtunes in the trees overhead, the chipmunks I never spotted but could hear laughing at me from near the lilacs, the robin who scared off the sparrows and finches when he wanted to have a bath in the driveway’s big puddle.  Those sights and sounds are so important in my life.  I found my mood improved greatly this past week, when it was warm enough to leave the door open at night and I could hear the peepers singing in the pond across the way as I fell asleep.



So that was a good afternoon’s work and combined with the delightful activities of the previous evening, I found myself crashing on the early side Sunday evening, remaining awake long enough to watch the Firefly movie, “Serenity” again (you may recall I discovered the series last summer, but didn’t get more than halfway through before it was time to move), before tumbling into slumberland, with John Cougar Mellowcat cuddled close beside me.


I awoke early with a purpose today, though, knowing there was a pretty intense rainstorm forecast to come our way in the second half of Monday.   With luck, I could plant some pansies in the new garden  bed just before the storm arrived, and save myself the trouble of watering them in.    You’ll recall I’d already bought a few, which were happily settled into pots up on the deck, so these would be an all-new bunch, but which ones to choose.  Off I went to my favorite nursery, where I was faced with a legion of possibilities.

So many styles and shapes and colors…and these are all just pansies.  The season’s hardly even begun.   As always, I’d be quite content with just a sixpack of EACH variety…but even putting that kind of limitation on things would still be cost prohibitive.  And so decisions must be made.

last-years-blueIn previous years, I’ve been a big fan of this variety to the left, enjoying the solid blue with the delicate yellow eye.

But this year, I find their blue not at all the thing I need, their nearly blank faces the no longer the comfort I once enjoyed.   I’m looking for faces I can trust, perhaps, maybe something with a little more character.


There really are so many colors to choose from.

And every spring I consider the fire tones, which are so breath-taking at this time of year, when any color in the landscape is a new and amazing pleasure…but April always seems a bit soon for such great drama and I like to save those colors for marigolds and zinnias and mums and such later in the season.

Purples, blues, yellows.  These seem the natural colors for the season, their hues matched and balanced by countless crocuses, daffodils, forsythia…and soon, hyacinths and tulips and then before we know it, violets and lilacs.  Oh, I can hear you know:  Greg, stop making such a fuss and plant something:  they’re “only” pansies. Only pansies.  So often in life, when you see the right face, you just know.


This fresh face was the one that caught my eye.


I love the classic look of those deeply-lined faces and the color-range was exactly what I wanted.   This bright beauty was in a nice big nursery flat of pansies, all varieties from the same seed mix, some more blue than purple, or vice versa.  At least one plant has all yellow flowers.   Buying them this way was a good value, too, since there were seventeen distinctive plants (and a few of those were clusters of two or three plants together)  in the big flat and when they were broken up, each keep a nice big rootball to get it started.

I also got a sixpack of violas in complimentary colors to set off the big faces with some small counterparts.  My plan about planting them prior to the rain’s arrival didn’t work out exactly as I’d hoped.   Over the weekend, I had also picked up a bag of assorted lily bulbs and those I got planted before the rains arrived.   But the pansies, their planting got me quite muddy, which long-time readers will know wasn’t really an inconvenience for the Midnight Gardener, who really likes playing in the dirt.



And OH, how it has rained.

That was around 11 this morning that the rain arrived, and it has been a steady and often-heavy falling companion throughout the day.  A few thunder-boomers have come through, with their bright flashes and window-rattling booms.  For a while, the temperature dropped from this morning’s 47 down to about 42…but now (just before midnight) it’s 53, but the winds are whistling and gusting as strong as I heard them back in the storms of January.

Last week, the rains were keeping me inside, stopping me from doing my part at ushering in the spring season.   And I hated them for it.  Now that I’ve had a little sunshine and been able to accomplish a few things, the rain is a gift to me, encouraging the good work I’ve accomplished.   And that makes all the difference.



Comments on: "Another Opening, Another Show" (12)

  1. Beautiful pictures and lovely gardens ready for that warmer weather.

  2. I just love the way your front yard looks Greg. it has that real country look to it. And I already mentioned how much I love your plants…:~)

  3. I think purple is the color of the year; I’m seeing it everywhere. Those pansy faces are quite dramatic. I love how you make me stop and really look at things I’ve passed by so many times. This intimate look at nature gives me a sense of peace that is surpassed only by going out into the natural world itself. Thank you, again, for bringing me along.

    Always happy to have you along!!

  4. Seems there came a little sunshine into your mood too, it would be certainly a big pleasure to see you playing in the dirt.

  5. Gardens begun, gardens left behind, and new planting to do. Deep thoughts. And, as always, beautiful.

  6. :) just seeing that makes me happy.

    As doing it made me, happy, DW! (You’ll be happy to know, too, that the canna lily is already towering in anticipation of the new season. I’ll try not to set it out so early as last year and see if I can get it to bloom before Labor Day!)

  7. What a great job you did! It looks beautiful. There’s just something irreplaceably satisfying about creating your own patch(es) of loveliness.

  8. I love the new pansies; they remind me of a large patch of Johnny-Jump-Ups I saw a few years back. I decided at the time I would give them a large section of my future garden, whenever that happened.

    I can understand feeling a bit down about all the gardens you’ve had to leave behind. Of course the things you learned from those experiences are shaping your choices now, so you are still accumulating knowledge and experience, but I realize that’s not really the same as getting to watch and shape progress over the long term. It’s fun though to think of you as some kind of Johnny Appleseed of Cape Cod gardens, with patches all over the place brightening people’s days, and possibly leading more of them than you’ll ever know to start working in the soil themselves. Reclaiming a neglected garden patch (as you’re doing now, it seems) can be an entry point for lots of folks into a life-long pleasure. Thanks too for the reminder of how much it is a full sensory experience. I’m going to go hear some birdsong today.

    You remind me I need to find some Johnny Jump-up seeds – they’d be the perfect foil for these pansies!

    Thanks, too, for your other words. A gardener can measure the water in his glass ’til the cows come home, but sometimes it takes the independent view of a friend who holds the glass up to the light and says, “LOOK. _Half_ full, or better.” I appreciate that. : )

  9. I love your brick edging. Looks great.
    Choosing flowers on a limited budget is difficult, isn’t it? It does take time.

  10. I vicariously enjoyed this romp in the mud with you, my friend. That’s a great transformation for a day’s work. It looks fantastic. I can’t wait to watch its progress as you chronicle the seasons for us here on the Midnight Garden.

    I heartily approve of your pansy choice. I agree, too, that the pale blues are just a bit too bland.

    It was time for something new and fresh, Jav…which is why I’m so amused to have chosen something that I suspect is an antique strain regenerated.

  11. Man! You really know how to take pictures! They are really, really pretty.

    Thanks, Indigo! : )

  12. All right! Another fence garden! It’ll be interesting to how this one will differ from last summer’s exuberant collection. I remember last year’s sunflowers (and cleomes), in particular. Let the garden season begin…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: