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."

HELIThere was a happy surprise waiting for me as I went out to water the garden this shiny June first.  A couple of surprises, actually.  In the night, our humidity vanished and it is a cool and wonderful late spring morning.

The best surprise was the blooming of the garden heliotrope, AKA, white valerian(seen above – if only you could smell it).   Among my legion of favorite plants, this may be in my Top Ten.  Heliotrope may be the tallest of the early bloomers, or at least as tall as some iris (some years, it’s been taller than me, tho!), has the most delightful fragrance, and because of that, has literary chops with a mention in Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town.”

HELI 002It’s been a busy week here, as this time of year often is, so you’ll forgive my not writing for a bit.   The run-up to Memorial Day weekend saw an increase in traffic and an influx of purchased plants, pots and even some new hose equipment, as well as another plant swap, so the start of the long weekend found me with a long list of things.   You think that being single would mean a more realistic Honey-Do list.

The deck garden was hosting many of the perennials (great and small, numbering about 25) in need of planting and they needed to be addressed before the deck garden could be properly organized and set up for the season ahead.   But many of the plants that wintered in the living room needed to get outside as the perennials found their way into the ground.  And many of those guys needed dividing and replanting, into various planters.  And everyone was getting a supplement of aged manure as a boost for the season before us.

HELI 003Eventually, lots got accomplished and I took many photos, but had little time or energy left at the end of the days to blog about it all.   You’ll see the results in the days ahead.

Meanwhile, above is the lovely deep purple iris (above, left) in the backyard, greeting the dawn with a green lacewing photobombing.  Very pleased to see that insect, who’ll work hard to address aphids and such in the garden.

Back in the front yard, one of my newest additions for last week’s plant swap was this spiderwort, the lovely blue-purple bloom with three petals (above, right).  This was one of the first perennials I was introduced to in the Adirondacks at the start of my gardening “career”, so I was pleased to welcome some to this garden.

As you can see it’s sort of a purple day here at the Midnight Garden, not at all a bad way to welcome the month of June.  Here’s some perfectly puffy chive blossoms to wind things up for the day.

HELI 004Rogers and Hammerstein would be pleased to see that June is, indeed, busting out all over.


The Best Remedy

MGT 001“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God.”

MGT 002“Because only then does one feel  that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature.”

MGT 003
“As long as this exists and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be.”

MGT 004“And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.”


This morning’s guest blogger is Annelies Marie Frank (6/12/1929 – early 1945), excerpted from the diary she kept whilst hiding from the Nazis with her family during the German occupation of the Netherlands during World War II.


Lilac Memories

DSC08838They say rosemary is for remembering, but for me, it’s always lilacs.  I think back to try and figure out the first lilac bush I knew.  I can’t recall either of my grandmothers having one in their yard.   Great grandma Berns probably had a couple in her yard, but if so, I don’t remember them from there.

My first lilac of memory was the little bush Mom planted outside the back door of our first house in Wood Ridge.  That was probably the first time I paid attention to the growth of a plant with the passage of time.  I remember it was sort of scrawny when we planted it, but had finally reached a decent size by the time we moved away.  That may have been the first time I was sorry to leave a plant behind (foreshadowing about the eventual back troubles, eh?).

But I have plenty of lilac memories from Long Lake.  There were several large old lilac bushes on the property that with time we re-shaped and rejuvenated, trimming out the oldest branches to encourage the new.  Over the years, we rescued a few others and added a new one or two.

In the heart of the chilly Adirondacks where gardening lasts all of six to eight weeks in a good year, the season comes in not with a crocus here and a daffodil there, and then some tulips and a little while later assorted hyacinths.  Oh, no.  There, Spring seemed to come all at once and more often than not in a pretty rapid crescendo of a couple of weeks culminating in a warm fragrant festival of lilacs around Memorial Day.  If my memory is not mistaken, outside the Members Cottage at the museum we had both purple and white lilacs, the latter even more fragrant.  That wonderful perfume almost made up for the near-simultaneous arrival of the black flies.

I’ve known a variety of lilac bushes here on the Cape, cultivating some, only harvesting from others.  I remember a great lilac round-up one year for a late May wedding with a lilac theme the year they all bloomed so early.  I even know a secret place they bloom.

I think it’s cool to see a great wild-ish planting of lilacs alongside the roadside, with blooms so high you’d need a ladder to clip some.  They are the only remnant of a long-ago dooryard, where someone once planted a scrawny bush in hopes of a few fragrant plumes.
DSC08832In other purple news, the dwarf iris Carolina made her first appearance in the garden for this season.  It looks like there’ll be plenty more to follow as the week progresses, too.

Don’t let the name fool you as to her geographic origins, though.  In one of those rare cross-border plant exchanges that never happen (wink, wink) between gardeners, Carolina came from Alabama with some cardinal climber on her knee.