Saturday, May 12, 2018


Gardening on a grand scale places extraordinary physical demands on you. And so sometimes, you take shortcuts. One favorite strategy is to invest in flowers that grow to a full size quickly, offering blooms the very year you put them in. And bulbs, the ones you dig in during the cool autumn months, hoping for a spring of heady blooms? You opt for the ones that naturalize. Meaning they divide and multiply. Imagine: you do nothing and your carpet of daffodils gets bigger and bigger!

Those are thoughts of a gardener who wants too much too soon. In growing flowers, you have to restrain yourself and resist promises of excess. Because it rarely turns out well: you put in spreading plants (coreopsis, I used to love you!) and suddenly they're invading neighbors and you can't get them to just stay put! And this year, I'm paying the price for putting in so many of those naturalizing daffodils. There should be a mass of yellow and white in my lily bed right now, but instead, there is a dense forest of daffodil leaves. The blooms have slowed down considerably. There are too many bulbs and they're crowding each other.

All this to say that today -- a still damp and gray and not too warm a day -- I pay my dues. My gardening work consists of the unpleasant task of removing dozens (perhaps hundreds) of daffodils from the lily bed. In theory, this should be done in fall, but I wont find them in fall. Right now, I see their dense mass and I can dig gingerly around the day lilies and pull them out and transplant them elsewhere (where perhaps they wont wreck havoc in the way that they do in my flower beds).

It's very unpleasant work and you feel foolish doing it, because you know that it's all your fault.

But, "unpleasant" is a relative term. My work is much for satisfying than, say, that of the family of truck farmers who came back today to dig out some of the rhubarb they'd planted in the fields next to us. Unfortunately, their farming days here are over as the development encroaches on the lands they worked for at least as long as I've lived here.

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Oh, let's take a pause and think of something cheerful: my cluster of tulips -- wet from the rain, but standing tall! And no, tulips do not multiply. If anything, they fade each year and a good gardener would remove bulbs that are no longer producing much of anything. But this clump is vigorous and beautiful!

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A pause for a very late breakfast. Way too cold for the porch.

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Then back to work. On a more pleasant note -- I also put in seeds in the more distant flower beds. I always work with cosmos and nasturtium, but this year I added anemones and sunflowers and if the chickens would quit scratching the dirt around them, I might have a nice expanded flowering patch by the sheep shed.

Since the daffodils are looking sad after the heavy rains, I'll show off something else today. If you're a regular Ocean reader, you've seen these before, but still -- I love their presence and their demeanor especially in spring, when their small size fits so prettily into the emergent flower fields. (I'm referring to the bronze statues made by Ed's mother.)  Here's a trio of my favorites:

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And another gardening photo, this one with a focus on two flowers that theoretically should come back each year -- indeed, one of them is known to be quite the invasive! -- but neither really likes the winter conditions here all that much and most often I have to replace at least half of them from the previous season. (Here, I'm referring to my beloved gaura, aka bleeblossoms, and my equally beloved lavenders.)

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In the evening, I scrub myself clean and engage in some social life. Sometimes I think late day frolicking belongs to earlier decades of my life: I rarely go out after dusk! But, there are exceptions and today offered one such opportunity. Still, as I drive to the get together, my mind wanders to my work outside: am I on schedule? Shouldn't I have put in the lilium bulbs that arrived yesterday? And what about...

May is always like that: you're either working outside or thinking about how you should be working outside.

I'll end with a pic of a really stunning set of daffodils that did not plunk down in the wind and rain. Can you blame me for planting too many of these faces of pure sunshine?

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