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."



Sometimes we just don’t see what is right in front of us.  On Saturday, I was poking around in the back yard, generally exploring and looking for something in particular.  I would never have spotted this hawk – only about 8 or 9 feet off the ground – chilling in some low tree branches at the back of the property if it hadn’t been pointed out to me by someone with a different perspective on the scene.

S/he was pretty mellow, or at least I assume this, since it didn’t seem to be the least bothered at my close approach.  This gaze was mine, though, when my proximity scared off the rabbit in the woods which might’ve been the hawk’s quarry.

Still, it perched, unbothered by me.



It was certainly a nice enough weekend for hanging around in treetops, I suppose.   The weather generally seemed quite nice and ultimately more sunny than not.  We’d gone into the weekend with, if not a dire forecast, than at least a wet one, with rain scheduled to begin on Saturday and continue throughout Sunday, too.

That we saw so much sunshine seemed like an extra bonus, though our temperatures never matched the 60s of Friday night and, in fact, dropped somewhat steadily throughout the weekend.  The Cape Cod winds which are never ever really far away seemed to creep back in as the weekend progressed.

Sunday evening was enjoyable enough to spend some time outdoors, but in a way that reminds you that April and October are two similar spots on the wheel, each of them bringing momentarily lovely moments on the way somewhere else entirely.


I’m afraid the large plastic greenhouse type enclosure experiment for the morning glories and sweetpeas hasn’t worked out as I’d hoped it might.   For the morning glories, it wasn’t quite enough to protect them from the cool temperatures, but they’ve not died.  They are safely back in their window again, with a tinfoil backdrop to help them maximize the sun through the window until temps outside warm up more for them.

The sweetpeas have been better about the cold, but their pot is not so heavy as the one for the morning glories, and their plastic greenhouse thingy acted as a sail to knock the plant over, and the plastic has been borne away on the ever-increasing winds, I’m sorry to say, with no sign remaining.

In one of those signs of the season of rebirth that’s all around us, a big dumb fly appeared in the bedroom of our abode this week, more to our fascination and entertainment than annoyance, really.  It buzzed about almost drunkenly, battering itself against lampshades and glass panes and walls and sometimes crash landing on the comforter as he fly by overhead.



Here’s the morning sunlight through one of the canna lily leaves in the living room this morning, during a moment that seemed more early summer-ish than late spring.


I’ve been thinking a lot about this part of my garden here at the Nest:  the porch garden.   I know that there are plans afoot to refurbish the deck this spring, so I am hesitant to do too much there just yet, while I wait to hear more about when that might happen.   In the meantime, you can be sure I’ve got ideas.


These three plastic terra cotta hued planters were all inherited from the previous tenants, AKA, the Kooks.  Each of these has a watering pan, draining plate built into the bottom of the planter.   After its rained, I generally go out and tip them on their sides to drain off the excess.   I’d wondered and worried a bit about how that would work in high summer.   I hate for container plants to die of over-watering, but by the same token, in summer its nice to have an extra reservoir of water handy.

In the meantime, the effect in each of these three planters is a bit like many gardens I have met in springtime.   There are dead branches.   Some of that were million bell petunias which bloomed occasionally for me last fall.   Those will certainly not have survived the winter.   However, one planter has some bare branches I don’t recognize and some others which appear to be some kind of miniature rose.

Because of these earlier signs – and because there are also some delightful mosses growing in their – I’m going to hold off on the temptation to upend these planters’ soil into a large tub for replenishment and replanting with new seedlings.   There’ll still be plenty of time for that over the next month or so.  In the meantime (and especially since the cold weather seems not to have left us really yet), I’ll be content to wait and see what comes to life.

To the right here is a potted Montauk daisy, which was also left me by said kooks.   It only squeezed out a single daisy flower last fall and I’m sure it can do much more than that.   I’ve already pruned off the winterkill from its branches and it’s got some nice green leaves happening.  The moss feet of its pot have me believing the plant must be pretty pot-bound, so at some point, I’ll have to identify a place to get it in the ground, where it can spread about and bloom as it must.   And I’ll see about relocating those mossy toes, too.



Also for your consideration, but mainly mine, is this white windowbox planter which arrived here with me last fall.   I’d crammed it full of an assortment of the annuals I’d grown in the Harwich garden, a sort of lifeboat of little plant buddies to provide me with some color for the autumn garden in my new location.

That box is largely full of the Dead now, I am sure, except for what appears to be mostly weed seedlings appearing here and there.  However, you may recognize this little sword-like plant, only just an inch high, which is most obviously a little baby iris.   I haven’t the least idea what color, shape or size it may eventually be, but I will be transplanting that down to the driveway garden before long, so it may have the best conditions to encourage it.

FYI, that black device which you see stuck in the green pot (formerly the home of last season’s lantana) is the solar collector for the string of LED lights I have tacked up under the railing of the deck.   It’s only a temporary solution, of course; one more thing to be sorted out as the season comes on.




Although I gave some thinking time to the porch garden, the better part of my day off was spent at the business of housekeeping, spending some quality time with the vacuum cleaner, broom, duster and swiffer, and life is the better for it.    It was a challenge, of course, since I sat down at one point only intending to sip some coffee and make a brief check of the email, when the newly-existant lap was quickly filled with purring kitty to weight me to the spot.

Before long, though, I was able to tear myself away from the temptation to just set up purring with him for the afternoon.   I knew when I got the apartment cleaner, I could go downstairs for a bit of fun in the garden.    Look at this bizarre, alien-looking double flowered daffodil blooming alongside the barn.   Weird, eh?

The gentle blue flowers of myrtle (AKA, vinca or periwinkle)seem to be blooming everywhere now.


Here’s a closer look at another of the tulips which is coming on in my new garden bed.   I like the way this one seems to have green flarings up the side of the flower.   Will be interesting to watch this one develop.   I like the pink edges of the leaves, too.


In another part of the Forest, well, the Lawn – and only a few feet to the west, actually –  there’s a clump of bulb foliage which appeared a week or so ago and is now fixing to put out a few pretty little tulip-looking flowers.

When I first spotted this a couple of weeks ago, I thought it might be lily of the valley leaves.   I asked L, but he’d barely recognized that there was something growing there, and it made me think about how we don’t always see the things which are right there in front of us, like the Hawk.   It’s all a matter, of course, of what  your interests are and what kind of things grab your attention.    Plants are one of mine, so its inconceivable to me that someone could live on the property as long as he has and not know more about what’s growing there.

So, in thinking about whether trees make noise in the forest if there’s no one to hear them, I began wondering if flowers only suddenly pop out of the ground and begin blooming when they sense the approach of someone who will love and appreciate them.   Heh.  Silly, I know.  Of course, they are always there, their pretty faces just waiting to catch someone’s eye, to make them stop and be a little surprised and maybe smile a bit…and who knows, maybe even remember to look for them again in a year’s time.

I’ve got the roses along the fence all pruned up now, the dead branches cleared away and all of last season’s (and possibly the season before’s, too) rosehips dead-headed off the bushes.   As I’ve been working on that over the past couple days, the season’s new foliage has been emerging all over the plants, the red-tinged green shoots adding to the autumn feeling of the dropping temperature and rising winds.


Of course, the roses are hardy enough not to mind a little April weather, but after I’d gotten the pruning finished and did a little bit of raking(along with some reconnaisance for another bed I might be able to open up enough for some sunflowers), I packed everything in and returned to the relative warmth of the Nest, where some indoor plant chores beckoned.


First, there are these clementine triplets, who’ve been growing together these last couple of months in one pot.  

This afternoon, I seperated them each into their own space, but kept them close for company.  Does three count as an orchard?   That experiment continues.

Regarding other experiments, it was time to accept that the earlier seeding attempts had been succcessful each in their limited ways and move on.   Out of the 24 sweet pea seeds planted, a whopping seven have germinated into viable seedlings.   The last  three were transplanted into some newspaper pots I made this afternoon, so I could free up the little greenhouses that hosted the sweetpeas and the morning glories for their next tour of duty.

After soaking a fresh round of peat pots, I planted a handful of local wild lupine seed I collected last summer, as well as some of the columbine seed that Butch sent me from his garden in Washington.   His was a beautiful deep blue color and I hope it will grow well for me, as I look forward to crossing it with some of the pinky-purple one I already have to see what sort of violet-purply results I might come up with.

The second greenhouse I planted with a dwarf zinnia variety called, I think, Box Button.  I thought they might grow well in one – or several – of those planters on the porch, once things warm up a bit more.


dandelionsFor now, it appears that our season may have regressed a little.   Outside the winds are howling and whipping through the trees and around the  house.   Rain patters against the windows with some regularity.   The forecast – if it can be trusted (and April is keen on eroding trust – I heard there was hail and snow in Connecticut earlier today and Colorado had LOTS of snow this past weekend) – is promising.   Temperatures appear to be on the rise through the week ahead, with some stellar 70s possible for next weekend.

Anyone who requires further proof that it is indeed Spring need only consult with the dandelions growing out by the road.   They seem to have no doubt whatsoever that Summer is nearly upon us.

Happy Earth Day, everyone!!


Comments on: "Spring, Like the Tide…" (4)

  1. Happy Earth day Greg! That hawk… it takes my breath away, so huge and so CLOSE. I love all the gardening details you write about, favourite right now is that you are going to relocate the mossy toes from that choked up pot… it certainly looks juicy and thriving, maybe a sheltered wall would be a good home :) Last time I visited here it was all snow and ice, how quickly the seasons change – or how little I get a chance to vist. But one thing is certain, the dandilions in our garden think it’s summer too!

  2. Your hawk looks great. I’m sorry to hear spring is a little hesitant at your place (but I must confess I love howling winds), spring here is still nice and a little cold at night, right now 5°C (I hope your sinus infection is disappearing).

  3. Yes, we’ve got dandelions all over our yard. That’s a flower I easily recognize. I also immediately recognized the vinca. I remember being so impressed by my grandmother, that she knew all the names of all these various plants. I now know a bunch of them myself. I wonder if anyone else is impressed with my knowledge of plant names? I don’t actually do much gardening myself, though I appreciate gardens.

    An enjoyable post, dear. Very nice. Hopeful, and spring-like.

  4. Gorgeous hawk. I’m impressed that you such a good look at it from so close, and that it seemed about as unfazed at your presence as the tulip buds.

    That’s a wild daffodil. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. I wouldn’t call it pretty exactly, but it’s the sort of plant a collector might put in the ground. There are probably a few million King Alfreds in the ground in your state, but who’s got one quite like that one?

    And with your three clementines, you can now say that you have more citrus plants than I do out here in San Diego. May they grow and prosper.

    What other surprises will the season be bringing your way?

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