IT’S HARDER than it sounds, at least for a task-oriented person such as myself: Take time off from the to-do lists, and instead of looking at the garden as a project, just wander around and see what pleases you. Could I let go of the critical glass-half-full view, and focus on little moments that sometimes get lost in the rush to “get ready” for tours and workshops?
Could l look past a little increasing shagginess of the lawn and the start of some summer weed uprisings here and there, just for a few days? After my final spring event the previous weekend, I tried just that this last week. Want to see what I saw?
frogs of the week
Two female green frog of different ages were glad that I wasn’t making all that noise with the damn lawn mower. They let me join them on the grass beside one of the little in-ground water gardens, where they were quietly keeping company.
stylophorum’s odd pods
In many beds where the celandine poppy’s gold flowers starred in early spring, Stylophorum diphyllum’s wonderfully curious seedpods, covered in soft, pale green spines, are now dangling madly. The foliage will start to yellow momentarily, I know, and I’ll cut each plant to the ground, prompting a fresh flush of growth.
Yes, the Stylophorum is about to join the ranks of the shaggies—a main focus of the June chores column is fighting that chaos—but this week I just noticed, and let it all be. Out front the perennial geraniums, Geranium macrorrhizum and G. phaeum, are nearly gone by, and that’s where I’ll start my hard cutbacks in the week ahead. I’ll face ugly stubble for a couple of weeks afterward, but then a welcome fresh start.
It was yet another week of peonies, thanks to generally cooler temperatures. The coral-colored varieties, such as ‘Coral Charm,’ are my favorite among the herbaceous types. I felt guilty having them here all to myself, so I brought a vaseful to a friend’s restaurant, CrossRoads Food Shop, adding a few stems of a herbaceous clematis, Clematis recta ‘Lime Close,’ for good measure (now marketed as the variety ‘Serious Black’ some places).
herbaceous clematis recta
That Clematis I tucked in was barely starting to open when I snatched the bits for the bouquet, but by midweek it was spilling over the top of its chest-high support, and arching into the adjacent pathway (photo top of page). It’s often referred to as a non-vining clematis, but it will get several feet tall or even 5, before dying to the ground in winter like other perennials.
When it’s done with its frothy, fragrant show, I’ll cut it all the way down, too, like the head of the International Clematis Society told me to, along with her many other tips, remember? My variety, ‘Lime Close,’ is purple-leaved when it first emerges (above) and that’s what color the new shoots will be after a haircut.
moving self-sowns soon
On my meanderings, I scouted around for self-sown annual and biennial seedlings—angelica, nicotiana, Verbena bonariensis and others—to move into better spots ASAP. It’s like shopping in your own closet, my version of use-what-you’ve-got gardening. I’m hoping for a rainy day to actually transplant the stashes of goodies I located where they don’t belong, but there hasn’t been any in a week or two and who knows if and when. I may have to go to Plan B, the one involving shade-cloth tents and lots of watering.
another week, another woodchuck
Some chores can’t be skipped: I did water because it has been so dry, and I trapped another woodchuck—Number 3 of the spring. No doubt Number 4 (and 5 and 6…) will move in momentarily, which is why it’s good to have an approach to “nuisance wildlife control.” (Garden doodle, above, by Andre Jordan.)
The best thing of all: My little respite from chores didn’t cause anything to happen that can’t be remedied when I head out tomorrow to resume my somewhat more energetic rounds. How are you faring–and what’s looking good to you right now?
- Miss a week of 2018 garden updates? They’re all archived here.