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. Donna says:


    How wonderful that the tree peony delivered on your special day. How many birthdays went by before the “Yellow Crown” flowered? I am still waiting for my tree peonies — planted four years ago — to deliver flowers while the herbaceous peonies are popping ever more fully each year. I believe I’ve sited the tree peonies correctly and treat them appropriately as the woody plants they are. Patience, I presume is the ticket.

    Best birthday wishes!

  2. margaret says:

    Welcome, Maggie; love that you call it “gravy” like all my friends’ Italian mothers and grandmothers. :) See you soon again.

    Welcome, Laura. Also on the program: A trip to the DMV to get my license renewed. Woo-hoo!

    @Entangled: A field guide to detached tails would have been a good gift for me. I will tell my sister. :) I just saw that Jack’s tails made the famous knitter and knitting teacher Annie Modesitt’s Flickr photo stream, so Jack is really gaining in acclaim.

    @All of you: Thank you for all your visits, especially today.

  3. Ro says:

    Happy birthday Margaret from a long time lurker! I have been close to posting many times…like when your blog influenced me to buy hardy geraniums to use as ground cover (move over vinca and pachysandra!)…or when you introduced me to a half-moon edger -only to discover that manual edging is not for the faint of heart, or should I say, back! But today I am compelled to post because it is also my daughter’s birthday. She just turned 3 and she too will celebrate with a giant cupcake!
    Happy Birthday!

    1. margaret says:

      Welcome, Ro, and happy birthday to your little girlie. Nice. I am sorry to wreck your back but happy to have you knee-deep in geraniums. See you again soon, and enjoy the cupcake and the whole day with her.

  4. CovingtonKat says:

    Happy Birthday to you, Margaret! So glad you told us so we could send our good wishes to you…I’m a firm believer in letting people know – more Happy all around, right?!? And so nice of Jack to leave the gift…gee, I’ve NEVER gotten one of those…

    Have a wonderful day – with family, food, and lots of flowers – that peeee-oooooooh-nee is just gorgeous!

  5. dirtgirl says:

    Happy, happy, Birthday Margaret! You are well loved for sure.

    Your words, your gardens, your photos inspire me so.
    No yellow peony here, but I’m going to fetch me a large yellow
    rose and copy you today. :)

    Best wishes for a bunch more birthdays. :)

  6. John at JWLW says:

    Happy Birthday Margaret, must be gardeners birthday month lots of gardeners have a birthday this month. Great month for garden birthday party’s. Enjoy your celebration’s.

    Have a Great Day,
    John and Liza

    1. margaret says:

      For my birthday what I *really* wanted besides all your swell wishes (and the weasel tail) was to finish some system upgrades we have been working on this week. There’s never a good time…so now’s the time.

      A few of your comments got trapped in the black hole between worlds, but here they are:

      April from http://coalcreekfarm.com said:

      Well, now I’m going to be singing, “I’ve got a brand new combine harvester and I’ll give you the key, oo ar oo ar” for the next several hours. Hope you’re happy.

      HighValley Farmgirl said:
      Happy Birthday Margaret. Make it a doozie.

      From your friends up the road a piece,

      D & E and assorted critters including the Big R.

      Barbara H. said:
      Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday, dear Margaret, Happy birthday to you. And many more…

      Like Nancy, I post seldom but read often. And like everyone above I so appreciate your generous sharing of information, stories, and wonderful photos of your beautiful garden.

      Nancy O. said:
      Happy Birthday, Margaret!!
      I post seldom, but read often. :-) Thank you for this site and your beautiful garden full of ideas and information.

      Woody Plant Girl said:

      What a lovely tradition to plant something you have chosen for a birthday wish for future joy. Happy birthday and good hunting to Jack.

      Johanna of busysolitudefarm.com said:

      Happy happy happy! Must be wonderful to celebrate during the most floriferous month — the yellow peony is a knockout! Enjoy your day and have a happy, healthy year ahead.

      Denden said:

      buen compleanos, senorita margaret!
      disfrutate su dia especial, y espero que tu tienes muchos mas.
      hasta augusto veinte dos….su amigo del jardin,

  7. Ailsa says:

    Happy B-day Margaret!
    Yes, it could be worse.
    Unfortunately I can’t see the pics but I can imagine them…Mine are about to pop, but alas, up north its been cold and rainy with no end in sight. So we wait.
    Enjoy the remains of your day,

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