happy birthday to me, and then some

yellow-tree-peonyH OW TO CELEBRATE A JUNE BIRTHDAY IN THE GARDEN? By thinking back, and also looking ahead: two traits every gardener needs to cultivate. So what am I reflecting on and planning for on my happy birthday today?

Birthdays require flowers. Make mine peonies, one of the best perks of a June birthday. I am currently overrun by them, and the house actually smells too sweet; I had to put several vases outside. I even had the first-ever tree peony blossoms of my garden career (above) to cheer me this time around. That’s ‘Yellow Crown,’ which produced its first two flowers this year. Tada! Looks like a cupcake with lots of frosting, doesn’t it?

weasel-tailBirthdays require gifts, and Jack the Demon Cat took care of this one already. Yes, another weasel tail on the front doormat (above); making four in the last week. Wish he’d stick to chipmunks and mice and moles, but he dances (and hunts) to his own beat, my Jack does, and all night long.

Birthdays require music. I’m not singing “Happy Birthday” but instead “Combine Harvester,” a tractor song that seems much more in tune with my current life. It is my 2009 theme song, as I have mentioned. (Or maybe I should sing a chorus of “Get Happy” along with Judy Garland, who would have been 87 today, about my age.)

Birthdays require a toast, and I’m toasting myself by re-reading what I wrote 20 years ago this week, originally under the headline “Turning the Earth, and 35,” that sounds just like what I’d write today.

Birthdays require ceremony. I’m going to plant a shrub I’ve always wanted, Ribes odoratum, an intensely fragrant yellow-flowered currant and my birthday gift to myself, something I can watch grow up.

frozen sauceBirthdays require family. My sister and niece will arrive later with the usual assortment of gag gifts and good wishes. They’ll bring their homemade meatballs (I have vegetarian ones here for my plate) to slather in my red-sauce from last year’s garden, sauce I’ve had tucked in my freezer ever since (above). We’ll serve it up with sides of this year’s spinach and asparagus and a big homegrown salad and the first ‘Sugar Ann’ snap peas.

Things could be worse.

  1. Rosella says:

    Happy, happy birthday, Margaret! Sorry I’m a day late! My, that Jack certainly knows how to please a girl, doesn’t he?

  2. Margaret, Happy (belated but no less heart-felt) Birthday. June is a wonderful month for a birthday. A fragrant shrub is the perfect self-gift. Is that clove currant? Our youngest daughter is a June baby, and in honour of that we gave her the second name of Rose — which I hope she’ll come to appreciate more than she does at the moment. Cheers!

  3. Brad says:

    Happy Birthday Margaret! I’m sure moving your site to a new server on your Bday wasn’t exactly your wish, but at least it’s done now!

    Hope you had a great birthday and looking forward to visiting with April soon! :)

  4. chigal says:

    Happy birthday! That peony is gorgeous. I’m 35 and hope to be as good at this as you are, in due time. I had to laugh about the toads in your hill of beans story. They’ve always been my favorite garden critter. Maybe I’ll be more of a frog fan later on, too (first, I’ll need a pond).

    Here’s hoping Jack just got the tails, leaving the weasels to carry on minus decoration. My first ferocious hunter used to get a squirrel tail every now and then. The squirrel that lived in the nearest tree, minus half a tail, spent many afternoons screaming at him while he napped on the porch.

  5. langhowellrooffltonc says:

    Your wonderful blog is like a present to me so I hope your birthday brought presents you enjoy!

    Many more!

  6. Deirdre says:

    Happy birthday and many happy returns of the day, That’s a gorgeous peony.

    We have a tailless squirrel in our neighborhood. Has Jack ever been to Seattle?

  7. Dawn says:

    Bon anniversaire, Margaret! Thank you again for sharing your joy, your humor, and your wisdom! Your are the bee’s knees!

  8. Fred from Loudonville, NY says:

    Margaret….The peony cupcake looks like something DELICIOUS from “Martha’s” kitchen. But your’s is ALL natural, and even BETTER, calory FREE! My belated Birthday wish to you, Gardening Maven is…May the rest of your life, be the BEST of your life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Alicia P. says:

    Aw, dear sweet Margaret, happiest of birthdays to you, weasel-tail and all. I have been meaning to write to you, since I think of you every single morning as I look at (and pee in my pants laughing) my potato plants, which are as big as large shrubs (I really had no idea, and it’s great, ’cause I actually needed shrubs in the backyard!). Anyway, much love from me and Clover Meadow — and many thanks for all you’ve shared over the years. Your work has inspired me more than I can say.

  10. Leslie says:

    BELATED HAPPY BIRTHDAY. You have a perfect time for a garden birthday party. My mother used to insist on planning an outdoor party for me each year to celebrate my March 20 birthday Well, it is the first day of spring isn’t it?
    I’m sure that you will love your clove currant. I have one and put in 2 more this spring. The variety ‘Crandall’ (ForestFarm) produces fruit that is big enough and sweet enough to eat out of hand or on breakfast cereal. And the scent of the flowers is magnificent. ENJOY!!!!!

  11. Jerome W says:

    Hey Margaret
    Just got the email newsletter today and couldn’t help but notice the multiple references to your birthday. I celebrated a birthday in April (one of those that end in a zero) so I was a little bit more reflective than usual and here is the main theme I’m working on based on my many minutes of deep reflection.

    Treasure those beautiful days in the garden!

    I have turned down multiple invitations and put off stuff that can be done in the evenings to maximize my gardening hours and I’m loving it. My garden is looking great sure but the main thought is, how many beautiful days are we allotted in any lifetime? Grab them and hold on tight.

    Peace, Love and Great Gardening

    Jerry W

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Jerome, and thanks for your message about carpe diem, and making priorities. “Peace, love and great gardening,” yes, but don’t forget David Byrne’s alternate version of that one-liner: “Peace, love and monkey business.” One simply *must* leave some time for that, too. :) See you soon again.

  12. Ellen Kirby says:

    Hey Margaret,

    Just realized that we share the same birthday except I have a lot more years than you to record. I loved your birthday stories…for myself I got an Oakleaf Hydrangea “Alice” for my NC garden; the one in Brooklyn garden is magnificent. Hope it does as well in NC.

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Ellen, sister June 10th baby. The ‘Alice’ should be a winner (wasn’t it introduced by woody plant expert Michael Dirr from University of Georgia/Athens, as part of the Georgia Plant Introduction Program?). I bet it will like your warmer zone now. My old oakleaf here is finally getting big, after many years of so-so behavior. See you soon again.

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