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."

Archive for the ‘daisy’ Category

Midsummer Eve


“Are you sure that we are awake?  It seems to me that yet we sleep, we dream.”

 – William Shakespeare


Midsummer Garden Report

So, Summer Solstice is nearly upon us.  Today, at 7:09 p.m., Summer officially begins and we’ll have our longest day.

Sort of a shame it’s Wednesday and thus a workday.   I always feel, somehow, like it ought to be a lazy day spent wandering – dancing, cavorting – barefoot through some wildflower meadow.   Which sounds wonderfully pagan and maybe a little romantic, until you start thinking about ticks and mosquitos and things.

It seems a shame that we start Summer with its longest day.   Maybe that’s why we feel the need to cram so many beach days and picnics and barbecues and such into our summer days.   After tomorrow, every night the sun will set a little sooner.  The clock’s ticking:  Gather ye rosebuds, make hay while the sun shines.   Beat the heat with cool summer savings!

Yikes, don’t cave to all that pressure – that’s what’s making all those people out on the highway so frantic.  Just breathe.

Stop and smell the flowers.

But yes, of course, as the Wheel of the Seasons turns, our local roads are starting to look more like this, as the annual rising tide of seasonal residents and summer visitors and workers commences.   It’s time to drive a little more defensively, with a little more patience and forethought, and try to remember that, once, you too were unsure just how to navigate a rotary.

But the approaching season has brought invasions of other kinds, too.  In our own back yard, in fact.    Last weekend, a sunny afternoon after a week of rain led us out for a prowl around the yard to see what was going on, where a second incredulous look confirmed that a previously benign-seeming bamboo had suddenly leapt into spring-loaded action against us, sending runners eight feet in six different directions, thick pointy tassle-top spears rising twice the height of the parent plant all along the root’s path.

The plant came to our yard about eight years ago, so it pre-dates me.   It had been described – I am told – when the division was introduced into the landscape, as being “one of those bamboos that doesn’t spread”.   Meaning the mythical kind that don’t really exist.  I think one of the reasons it did nothing for so long is that it was planted in a tight little hole dug quickly.  But I may bear some responsibility for bringing it roaring to life.

Since I moved in almost four years ago, I’ve worked in every garden around the property, weeding out undesirables, loosening and amending the soil, pruning out dead canes.   All that tender loving, coupled with a frost-free winter, may have been all the encouragement this plant needed to jump into action.    Fortunately, we caught it early, and I was able to dig it out completely, without destroying most of the good stuff in the garden around it.   Those irises were ready for division and pruning, anyway.    And the new real estate gave me a place to transplant some of the surplus sulfur cosmos thriving in pots on the deck.

I sort of hated having to lead the attack on a plant.   You know I’m fond of them all, and I had to admire the way this thing went to work so effortlessly.  But it was poised to take over everything pretty darn quickly, and so (while I think the Day of the Triffids was a terrific book, and Little Shop of Horrors numbers among my favorite musicals…) this Vegetable had to die.

I managed somehow to get it almost in a single piece and we wrapped it up tight in plastic and duct tape and took it off to the dump like you might with anything you sincerely hoped was really dead.   Eventually, the replanted bed will fill in and look pretty good, but meanwhile, the nearby catawba tree has come into bloom to distract us from the raw looking bed.

And the hydrangeas at the neighbors house are doing this:

Yes, yes, midsummer’s upon us, with all its balmy breezes and floral magic.  Tomorrow’s forecast promises our first taste of something like a heatwave.

Orioles fly in spiraling pairs overhead, their songs coloring the evening.  Baby bunnies nibble everywhere at twilight, as fireflies flicker in the underbrush, slowly making their way out in the open air as darkness slowly sinks around us.  The air is scented of roses and sea salt.  The first Shasta daisies and zinnias burst open when we glance away, foreshadowing the skyrockets of Independence Day, just around the corner.

And for just this one night, the sun sets far later than we even realize.   Don’t miss it.

Happy Summer, everyone.   Enjoy!

Late Season

Remember when we were kvetching about all the heat and humidity?

Last night it got pretty chilly here, dipping just below forty degrees, but with winds gusting to about 40 mph, it felt like winter was arriving, even perhaps, that Sudden Deep Freeze scene from The Day After Tomorrow.   The brilliant moonlight silvered everything seen out the window, too, just to enhance the illusion.

Since the weekend ahead is the one I had set aside for such autumnal things like putting the garden to bed and (more importantly) getting the storm windows in place, last night was dang cold, with the Gray Catsby and I snuggled together under several blankets and comforters while the wind howled outside.  Thankfully, he throws a bit of  heat.

This morning I awoke to find snow…but thankfully only in photos of friends of mine who live in more northern climates.   The temperature is 49 F at 11:30 a.m., though the wind still gusts here, keeping the trees dancing and sending fading leaves swirling.   The sunshine is bright and warm, though and there isn’t much reason to hibernate just yet.

The deck garden and the yard aren’t quite ready to be put to bed, so I’ll focus on the storm windows today.

I offer these warm-looking photos as antidote to the Season Shock my friends in chillier places may be experiencing lately.

I have already brought a few things indoors, like the hibiscus that starts off this post, a pot of marine heliotrope, another of mint and a lovely hanging basket I’m not quite ready to say so long to yet.   I do hope to repot those now-two-year-old dracaenas, since they o’er-wintered so well inside last year…and there’s the asparagus ferns…it’ll be a real jungle in here once that great migration is complete.

But first the storm windows, while the deck keeps up its pretty show.

By the way, I don’t want you to think I’m all done with posts about Summer, there’s at least a Part 2 and 3 coming, possibly more.  But of course, when you just take loads of pics as the summer races along, it’s tricky (but fun) and time-consuming:  remembering just where they are saved, under what name, and the way I’d like to arrange them to tell the story.

But as they say, No Day But Today, and just to be clear, each one of these pics was taken this morning.

The pink bloom in the shot below is one of my very successful crop of agastache plants I grew this year (In the background – big surprise – is purple allyssum).    They were happy plants right out of the gate and grew wonderfully as the season progressed.   Some were gifted to others gardens, while a half a dozen stayed with me.

In the next couple of weeks, they’ll find homes in the gardens downstairs and – if my experience is true – will live almost ten years once I  find them the right spot.  But  with such a drought going on this summer, it seemed kinder to keep the plants in pots just outside the door where I could make sure they got watered.

The rain we’ve had recently is doing its work down in the garden, and the Shasta daisies by the driveway – normally long finished blooming by the end of July – have managed to present just a few more flowers this week, to join in the chorus of rudbeckia and imperial mums who’ve taken center stage for the season’s finale.

Stay warm, everyone – it’s flannel shirt and fleece season, to be sure – and have a great weekend!!