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."

Heliotrope-TallHere, then, is my best shot yet of the heliotrope plant I am forever going on about.   I don’t know that I’ve really done it justice with my images to date.  It really is sort of unique.   The stalks climb so high in a relatively short time, it’s a bit breath-taking to watch.

The foliage, as you can, is sort of unique, forming these tufts all up and down the stalks.  The flowerheads are starting to puff out a bit.  As the stalks climb even higher, the flowers will start to telescope, spreading out into a flattish head sort of like Queen Anne’s Lace, only perfumed as if for gods.

It’s different from pretty much any other plant in my garden, and that makes it sort of unexpected, which is always fun.  I don’t know why more people don’t grow this plant.   It’s interesting to look at and delightful to sniff.   Actually, I forget sometimes that this plant is also known as valerian, which is often found in herbal sleep aids, or pet calming formulas.  I’m sure if I wanted to explore my inner apothecary, I could find a recipe that used the leaves or the roots or whichever part of the plant is appropriate in this case to make a soothing draught.

But don’t you think about digging up any of my valerian roots just now.  This is it’s biggest year ever with some many blooms coming on all at once.   I’m looking forward to the show.

Globe-Allium-again Even more unexpected things have been afoot in the Garden of late.   Last evening, as a little warmth was restored to the landscape, I had the windows in the Nest thrown wide to enjoy the riotous chorus of birds in the trees just outside.  As the sun began to sink westward, I was in the mood for a walk, but my Gray Pal seemed unhappy to let me leave him behind  He began rubbing up against me…and then sauntered over to where the leash and harness were hanging and rubbed up against that, to my surprise.

I seem to have interpreted The Catsby’s intentions properly, as he was patient with me as I drew the harness around him and fastened it.   And then took it off and refastened it properly (it was only our second time using it, after all!) , scooped him up and off we went into the hallway.  Sensing his discomfort, we chilled in the upper hall a bit, while he got comfortable with the harness anew, and then got interested in exploring a bit.  Making our way down the stairs was slow, but before long, we were at the door out into the garden and peering outside.

TentativeThe stoop was the sight of some tentativeness once we got outdoors and some grass was eaten as we got the lay of the land.  It was only then I thought to be a little concerned about the protective attentions of nesting robins and the like, and it did sound as though my companions presence was made note of, but no attacks came.   After only a moment, my pal stepped down into the grass and the game was on.

Kitty-in-the-GardenWhat fun it was to see my boy so excited.  It was like I was in the company of a much younger cat (he’s only five or so, I estimate, having not known him from birth), somehow.  The garden was the sight of much exploration, which was kind of fun.


I trust him to tread a little more lightly than his big sister dog might have, and so it was kind of fun to see him sniffing around, making use of the great cloud of chrysanthemum and daisy foliage to hide behind as he got his bearings and looked around a bit.

After circling the garden, eyes darting in a hundred different directions while birds cawed and chattered and chirped all around, we made our way into the driveway, where “we” tried to crawl under a  car and in the process discovered what our greatest challenge in this Brave New Cat On A Leash World will be.

Mister Mellowcat will want to be exploring the places which are most interesting to him, with little regard for my ability to follow.   It’s no use my trying to reason with him about me not fitting into the places which draw his eye, for he may simply argue that to keep a cat on a leash is ridiculous to begin with and I could do worse than to simply let go.

But our road is a busy one and the neighborhood home to coyotes and hawks, so I’m not entirely sold on that as a course of events, either.  And so for now we disagree.   Of course I understand he was feeling a little overwhelmed and seeking some cover, too.   After the Downses appeared on the horizon to fawn over their favorite feline buddy and gush over this new adventure of his for a bit, we returned to the Nest for some well-deserved treats.


The experience has certainly put a new Twist and Snap into my buddy’s tail and he spent a bit of last evening in windows and at the door, crying to go back out again.  Perhaps a monster has been created.  It seemed he was reasonably well-distracted by, and full of spirit for, a crazy game of laser pointer tag, before spiraling down into a little heap and snoozing away the remainder of the evening, purring contentedly and no doubt dreaming of having me on a leash and walking me around the garden.

I look forward to our next sojourn out there.   I’m sure in time the two of us will figure out just how it will work.  Himself declined this morning when I tried to put the harness on, but I’m sure we’ll venture out again soon.   We’ve got a whole summer full of new adventures and experiences unfolding before the two of us, after all.



Comments on: "Just Very Very Improbable" (7)

  1. Aw, that’s so cute. I saw a cat on a leash the other day just pulling his owner along like a dog. I only tried to leash a cat once and I think I still have scars from it.

  2. I wonder if eventually one of those retractable leashes will serve your purpose well? They can extend long enough to let him under a car, certainly, but when you need to you can still reel him back in. They made my job as a dogwalker easier on many occasions (that was when I first learned about their existence; such technology hadn’t yet existed when I last lived with dogs).

    I love how well he was able to communicate his wishes! Couldn’t have been clearer. Thinking about the robins reminded me of seeing a play at a park in Seattle once; a woman was walking her cat on a leash and some crows overhead had a LOT to say about it. Frankly it was more dramatically compelling than the play onstage.

    Ha ha…outdoor performances are regularly at the whims of Nature and her wildlife, aren’t they? How funny that it was a cat on a leash in that instance. We’ll have to avoid plays al fresco for the time being. The retractable leash sounds wise on the face of it, but I wonder if perhaps my gray pal’s easy going nature leads you to think that cats (or this one, anyway) and dogs are more similar than they are. Convincing a cat he wants to backtrack seems often a futile effort to me, but then I was a little dubious whole leash thing, so who knows what’s really possible! We had a good time, which is the important thing and I hope he and I will be patient with one another as we explore all this new territory together.

  3. How delightful! I thoroughly enjoyed this tale of His Grayness’ Grand Outdoor Adventure. The pictures complete the delight.

    So heliotrope has a delightful scent, too? I’ve seen pictures of heliotrope in full bloom, and it is quite impressive. I didn’t know the stalk was so tall and thick. It looks a lot like a nasty local weed we see around here. I trust, though, that heliotrope is much better than an annoying weed.

    I bought a lilac scented candle today, and burned it for a couple of hours. It was very pleasant. I still want to smell the real deal.

    The nastiest thing I can think of about the heliotrope is that it doesn’t seem to bloom long enough. Occasionally, there’ll be another flower stalk after dead-heading, but not reliably so. And the scent, well, for me it’s, well, still very hard to describe, but amazing to experience.

    His Catness is feeling a bit dopey this evening, owing to some fresh organic catnip from Trader Joe’s, but I think still remembering our adventure with some fondness.

    I’m glad to hear about your candle! ; )

  4. Good luck with your new cat adventures, hopefully not with you on the leash (seems Badum has sometimes a weird influence on your imagination).

    Yes, I suppose it’s safe to blame him. ; 0

  5. Re: the scent of lilacs, I wonder if Jeaux and/or Birdie have some bases of comparison to offer Java, since they have experienced it, and share with her a knowledge of Florida scents. In my experience lilac-scented candles do okay, but can be a bit more cloying or heavy than the real deal. Can’t think of how else to describe the difference. One of the things I like best about the flowers is they can be so intoxicating; there is a heavier quality to the scent than there is with citrus, for example, but I like it with lilac.

    You’re right, of course, I haven’t got the experience with “southern scents” myself, but perhaps there IS something similar. I agree, too, that perfumes often take things a step too far – I feel that way about lily of the valley – it’s wonderful from the tiny plant, but slathered on an old biddy, less so. ; ) Sadly, it’s almost entirely rhetorical for another year, since the lilacs have passed their prime and are turning brown from the bottom up.

  6. Butter vs. margarine is the best comparison I can make between genuine and even the best artificial scents.

    I love the Big Cat Adventure! The first time we put a harness on our cat of long ago, she thought she was hogtied and just literally tipped over. We’d prop her back up and she’d fall over again. It never went beyond that point. But it would have been useful had we ever needed her to keep still.

    An apt comparison, that butter/margarine thing. Although some lavendar candles capture the scent nicely.

    Our first day with the harness sounds a lot like yours. I couldn’t have been more surprised when he expressed interest the other night. I guess I was acted sufficiently disinterested since that first day to make it seem like his idea. ; )

  7. I like the photo Badum staring into the garden–no eyes, just little cat ears tuned in to something terribly important. You describe the trip outdoors so perfectly, filled with all sorts of hesitations that a cat makes when checking out something new. It’s good you’re so patient with him, and good that he’s taking precautions as he strike out in new directions.

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