Thursday, February 25, 2010

Lilies

 The Lilies are pushing up , moving the soil aside as they emerge like the tips of spears , a benchmark of spring. Today they all look the same , the color of red lettuce, succulent and powerful . Some will grow to be 6 foot plus giants, others will be compact ..but never discreet. These flowers are the real goddesses of the garden , flaring stamens and pistols , sending out their sublime perfume luring human and insect alike. More will be acquired this spring, for it is always easy to find a spot for a bulb, and the annual regret at not having enough is remembered.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Building a Tapestry


When the gardener took possesion here, this bed was a mono-culture rose garden. As it is admitted freely that roses are an addiction , it was exciting to have the prospect of a brand new rose garden, with twelve roses which could be viewed from a lovely gazebo adorned with clear mini Christmas lights. It was soon discovered that this rose bed had some significant problems, not the least of which was the selection of the roses themselves. They were uniformly pink, uniformly hybrid teas , and seemed to sport just about any rose disease one could mention. As the gardener does not spray, this presented a problem. And then there was the soil. Can soil be dead ? Indeed it can. There was no sign of organic material, not a weed in sight , and the attempt to insert a shovel was met with resistance. Extreme resistance. It was clear that Roundup was used with abandon and that the concept of mulching was unknown. This was close to 20 years ago. The roses are still here, but they have all been replaced with different varieties. Mulch has been used and other plants introduced to the area. The gazebo , a victim of dry rot , is long gone. The little concrete pad that was it's foundation remains as a pleasant mid-garden patio.This spring, a tapestry garden will be planted between the roses and daylilies. It is started already, but more Sedums will be added, more Thyme, Chamomile, and certainly plants yet to be discovered.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Road to Spring



It's a perilous journey this, danger lurks everywhere for spring by it's nature is changeable, fickle, arrives and just as quickly leaves again as the gardener rushes about with frost blankets, snail eradication products and weed removal devices. Fleece garb and a beanie one day, t-shirt and sunhat the next. Some days one is resigned to observing it through rain-spotted windows as the pools of standing water expand and float away the mulch. Every day there is something new to discover .

Friday, February 12, 2010

Rain



Complaints about rain, even after what seems like a solid month of it, feels inappropriate , whiny, wimpy and insensitive to the drought conditions that have prevailed for the last few years. Humans want to look up and see skies that are blue,feel the warmth of the sun and walk across gardens devoid of standing water . And the weeds ! This is their golden hour, for they thrive in the heavy waterlogged soil, unmolested , impossible to pull from the clammy embrace of mud and unthreatened by frost. The gardener here can only look briefly and then avert her eyes on the way to and from the mailbox-pointless to even think about it till the soil dries to friability and mulch can be applied without floating away.
In the vineyards, weeds are 'cover crops' and provide a beautiful view beneath the bare vines.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Subduing The Beast




Rose pruning is a season of grasped opportunity.By it's nature , January can feature chilly, foggy , wet days and it would seem that the few days of sunshine invariably occur when one is at the office. Therefore, a Saturday in January that dawns frostless and dry creates a sense of urgency to get outdoors before the weather deteriorates, or the new buds begin to swell beneath the old tatty black-spot ridden foliage. With over 60 roses the project typically meanders into February.This gardener is easilly distracted by by weeds -which are legion- and clean up chores from fall that remain undone.Least attractive is the irksome task of striping foliage from climbers that have stubbornly refused to enter dormancy. Why is it always the specimen with the perilously thorny 20 foot long canes that behaves this way ? Puncture wounds prevail.

Stangely though, this annual business becomes something of an artisctic endeavor as it proceeds-one stands back and admires the the neatly lopped tresses, bent into submission and tidily re-afixed to the fence or arbor, and makes touch-up cuts where the initial pruning does not please the eye.It is satisfying, even though futile. By June the powerful surge of spring and early summer growth will have hidden the fence, canes will burst free from the ties, neighboring plants will have become victims, struggling to be seen.