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 ‘sunset’ Category

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!

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Chasing the Sun

It’s a rainy day here today, so I’m glad to have saved a bunch of sunshine from Sunday to share today.

Sunday was, as its name implies, a warm and sunny day.  As Sundays sometimes are, it was a day long enough for relaxing, puttering and just a smidge of really hard work.   Maybe because the week before had been so cold and dim and rainy, when Sunday began to wind down, I still wanted a little more sunshine.

So as the evening rolled around, I wasn’t quite ready to collapse in a heap before the television and I walked through the neighborhood and down to Rock Harbor to enjoy the day’s end.

There was roses and other things blooming all along my way, and I’ve already shown you some of that last time around.   I’m sure if you’d been along, we’d have found something to talk about for nearly every step of the walk and possibly all this would’ve been merely backdrop for our experience, some of it even unnoticed.

On my own, however, I was lost in my own thoughts and free to stop and admire things here and there.

Walking to see the sunset and driving to the beach to do the same are completely different experiences, of course.  You can see (above, left) the small crowd gathered at the boat launch on the Orleans side of the harbor.

If I’d driven down to the shore for the occasion (and the sun setting almost always IS an occasion – sometimes here at the harbor, they even have a steel drum band!), I might’ve stopped somewhere for an ice cream on the way, and I’d probably stay until the last glimmers of light faded from the cloud-streaked sky.

But my walks are exercise as much as anything, and since I also like to have arrived back home before full dark, the sunset for me is a walk-by experience and while everyone else lingers still at the shore, I’m already working my way back to the house.   (On this night, I wanted to be home in time to see most of the Tony Awards, after all.)

But every now and then, I looked back over my shoulder.

May’s End Garden Report: Fragrance, Flowers and Friends

Well, take a look at this fantastic new addition to the iris family here at the Midnight Garden.   This one springs from a gift tuber sent by my gardening pal Theresa in Alabama, part of a package of assorted roots and bulbs and seeds that arrived last fall.   Stunning, isn’t it?   A tiny bit of research suggests this might be the hybrid called “Charleston.”

By any name, it’s a delightful addition to the garden, and it has a pleasantly sweet fragrance, too!   In fact, it’s currently residing in a pot with some daylilies on the deck, waiting for new ground to be broken downstairs in the yard.

Hey, speaking of garden gifts from friends, check out this cool iris lolly from my workpal, Lisa.   That’s right, it’s chocolate.  Was chocolate.   Mmmm, delicious chocolate.   Thanks, Lis’!

Recently, the postal service delivered a gift of wonderful river rocks from my pals from Texas, Heidi and Margo.   They make me smile every time I see them, just like those two do.  I’m thinking they’ll be the perfect centerpiece of a butterfly watering dish for the deck garden.   The rocks, I mean.

The irises come and go so quickly, but the show’s always great fun as we race headlong into the summer.   The heliotrope’s in bloom now, too.  That plant seems to have stayed on the Memorial Day weekend blooming schedule, whereas the irises really are a week or two earlier than usual.  (But – I know, I know – global climate change is just a myth.)

I can’t help wondering how quickly we’ll be seeing all the daisies coming into bloom.  They often are just getting started around July 4th, but they’re getting awfully tall.   The Casa Blanca lilies (no flowers yet, but towering stems) seem far ahead of schedule, as well.

They’ve certainly grown well these last three years and are in serious need of division.  Hopefully, by late summer there’ll be a new garden bed to give them a little more space to grow.  I’ve identified a terrific spot for a new bed, now I just have to make it so.  It’ll be fun to have a little fresh real estate to play in, which will give me the luxury of a clean slate to “design” on, choosing some of my favorites from other spots around the property…not to mention key players like Charleston waiting upstairs for their new living spaces to be ready.

Meanwhile, things on the deck are pretty exciting (in addition to the potted irises), as my seed sowing earlier this spring appears to have been quite successful.  So successful, in fact, it’s hard to keep up with current pics of how quickly the seedlings are growing.

Sulphur cosmos, morning glories (both seen above, about four days ago, now twice this size, with some of the cosmos needing to be transplanted elsewhere), moonflowers, nasturtiums, zinnias, four o’clocks, marigolds, herbs, radishes (almost ready to harvest, in fact!) and of course loads of allyssum are growing all over the place…and every time I look at a photo I’ve taken of them, it seems out of date already.

Wee, what an exciting time of year it is!  I note, with little surprise, that some of the morning glories from last summer have seeded themselves into some of the flower pots who grew near them last year.   Some eager seedlings have appeared in unexpected – but not unwelcome – places.  Last year’s morning glories were so beautiful and so much fun to train around the deck that I’ll welcome as many as show up this summer.

The roses are also a little ahead of schedule.  All the wild roses – the rosa rugosas (above and below right) and the tiny white rosa multifloras – are in full bloom in wild spaces all around us, and sometimes you can taste their lovely fragrance on the air.   I like it best when they scent the fresh salty breeze off the bay in the morning, especially the way it drifts in through the kitchen window while my coffee’s brewing.    We don’t have either of these species growing in our yard.  YET.   At least in the case of the rugosas, this is another thing I hope to address with the new garden bed.

There’s another bit of Natural World excitement around here this past week, with the appearance last weekend of a black bear on the Cape.  It’s suspected he may have swum across the Cape Cod Canal.  No matter how he’s gotten here, he’s arrived just in time for the running of the herring and I’m sure there are some gulls along the herring river in Brewster who were not happy to see him there this afternoon.

Authorities haven’t decided to take action yet, but are monitoring the bear’s movement carefully.  After all, except for some bird feeders, he isn’t necessarily dangerous.   Quite the contrary, I’d say he’s got more to fear from us.   It is Three Bean Salad season, after all.

It seems Br’er Bear is moving east and, of course, lots of us are watching with some amusement to see if he makes the turn toward Provincetown.   Bear Week doesn’t start ’til July 7th, though, so he has plenty of time to explore the local attractions on the way there.

Having welcomed (note how I create the illusion of choice) black bears to my Long Lake garden one especially memorable summer years ago, it would be sort of cool to have one pass through my Cape Cod garden this year, you know, for old time’s sake.

Check it out – digging around in an old photo album turned up an image (above) of that bear in the garden back in July 1995.  Cool, eh?

You just never know what Summer might bring your way.   Try to be ready for anything!