Category Archives: Flowers

Carolyn’s Garden: Obsession Daylilies

Yesterday, I visited a garden with 192 varieties of daylilies. Yes, you read that right—192 varieties. The garden belongs to my friend Carolyn Downing. On one-and-a-quarter acres behind her home in Winthrop, she grows this astonishing number of daylilies, which she sells to  flower enthusiasts who visit her gardens. The name of Carolyn’s business is Obsession Daylilies. What a sweet obsession!

Carolyn told me that thirty-six years ago, she started making the garden behind her home, but it was only four years ago that she started devoting a large portion of it to daylilies. There was no organized plan. Instead, there was a passion for plants, and Carolyn’s business sprang from her love of flowers.

Full disclosure: Daylilies are one of my favorite flowers, and when I stood in Carolyn’s backyard, I hardly knew where to look. In mid-July, the daylilies are in glorious bloom, and right now they are about a week away from  their peak. I was dazzled by so many different colors—yellow, red, pink, orange, white, near-black, coral. As Carolyn noted, the only color missing is blue. She also told me that there are a few varieties—red—that do well in part shade. I was oh so happy to hear this, and next spring I’ll be visiting Obsession Daylilies to buy some plants for my gardens.

Here are a few of the splendid daylilies from Carolyn’s garden.

With my wee camera, it is difficult to get the broad sweep of a large garden, but these pictures will at least give you some idea of the loveliness of Obsession Daylilies.

Although Carolyn specializes in daylilies, there are other flowers in her garden, including  liatris, black-eyed Susans, daisies, and poppies. Snappy garden art punctuates the beds, along with trees and hedges.

There is even a frog, with a sign pointing the way to its home.

As I wandered around this place of beauty that was full of fluttering, jumping life—frogs, bees, birds, and butterflies—I thought about how love is at the center of so much creativity, whatever form it might take.

Carolyn’s gardens shine with love, and that love radiates over everything, making this a special place. Blogging friends, if you live in the Winthrop area and have an ardor for flowers, put Obsession Daylilies on your list of gardens to visit.

Carolyn would like you to call first, and her number is 207-377-6316. Although she would be glad to sell you a plant, Carolyn is happy to have people just drop by and look at her amazing garden.

And for folks who are keen on flowers, that’s about as good as it gets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another Scorchah

As the title of this post indicates, today is another hot one for Maine, complete with a heat advisory warning. The heat index values are projected to be from 95°F to 100°F. Because we live inland, I’ve no doubt we will be on the 100°F side of things.

Here was the temperature yesterday afternoon. Note: The thermometer is in the shade.

Recently, I read that more people die from heat than they do from cold. I was a little surprised to learn this, but after discussing it with Clif, I understood. With the cold, you can bundle up to keep warm, and small structures, ranging from igloos to tents, will trap body heat. Sleeping bags will keep you toasty even in frigid weather.

There is no real equivalency for coping with extreme heat.  It is true that insulation and building color make a difference, but they only go so far.  We human beings are not equipped to deal with high heat.

Except we have no choice. Temperatures are rising, and those of us who are older know from first-hand experience that the weather is much hotter now than it was when we were growing up. Those old days are gone, and we must cope, which no doubt will involve air conditioners for folks like us who never thought they’d need them.

From time to time I have wondered if Clif and I have been too extreme in our response to climate change. Unless there is some sort of emergency, we will not fly. We severely limit our driving. Rare is the day when we leave Winthrop—good thing we live in such a sweet little town with a great library, a grocery store, and a brewery that has become a gathering place. Every two weeks or so, we drive to Augusta, a small city and the state’s capital. We pick up things that we can’t get in Winthrop and meet with friends at a local café for coffee and tea. We have a farm share with our own Farmer Kev and receive bi-weekly deliveries of fresh veggies from his farm. Finally, we don’t eat beef (or any other meat), whose production is a huge source of greenhouse gas.

But with the heat wave that has hit the country, I realize we have not been too extreme. Rather, we are not extreme enough. We should replace our gas hot water heater with an electric one. We should add more insulation to the attic to help reduce the amount of fuel we use. We should replace all our windows, which are the original ones from when our fifty-two-year-old home was built. And topping the list of all those shoulds: We should be driving an electric car.

Scorching heat leads to sobering thoughts, and to lighten the tone, I’ll end with some pictures of flowers and my gardens, which are still looking their best. Somehow, even during this time of climate crisis, we can be delighted by flowers and things that grow.

 

At Their Best

My gardens are what I call June and July gardens, when there are a few other colors besides green to liven the yard. The slugs and snails have yet to chew the hostas to ribbons, and everything still looks fresh. In early summer, the gardens are at their best, and I never get tired of looking at them.

It is not easy to take pictures to get the sweep of the beds, but the following pictures will give you some idea of what the gardens look like right now.

Here is the front yard.  As I’m sure you can see, there’s still a lot of green. But look! There is also some yellow.

And if you look a little closer, you can see the purple of Jacob’s ladder, which seems to be thriving. I am particularly fond of yellow next to purple, and I will be planting more Jacob’s ladder next year.

The yellow repeats itself in the backyard. The evening primroses are one of the few flowers that actually thrive in these gardens on the edge of the woods. Wish the evening primroses lasted longer.

Like the evening primroses, summer, beautiful summer, is all too brief.

From Books to Wine to the Patio

Last weekend the weather was fine—hot, but not too hot, and dry. Cooler weather from Canada had pushed the horrible heat and humidity away. Many thanks, Canada! Exactly the way summer in Maine should be, and perfect for everything we had planned.

On Saturday, Clif and I set up a book table at The Art Walk, one of the nicest gift shops in the area. Readers who live nearby, do keep this store in mind when you want a special gift for a special person, including yourself. (I might have bought a present for a special person who lives far away.) The prices and selection are fantastic, and everything is handmade by local artists and crafters.

Barbara Walsh, another Winthrop writer, set up next to me.

Unfortunately, the day was slow, and not many people came by. Never mind. I had a great time chatting with Barbara as well as Nick and his mother Terry, who run the store. Terry even brought a box of cannolis and shared them with us. So nice and so tasty.

After that, it was on to getting together with our friends Dawna and Jim, who recently bought a new house, a sweet little ranch with beautiful gardens. We brought a bottle of wine, glasses, and a wine opener. That way we could toast them and wish them many happy years in their new home. (Their house is pretty darned empty as they will be moving in next week.)

Sunday was another fine day, and I spent a couple of hours on the patio. I read the paper and caught up on blog reading and commenting. Naturally, I took pictures. I might have even snapped several photos of little zipping visitors, but you will have to wait until Wednesday to see those.

In the meantime, the view from my chair…

The predominate color is still green but we are soon approaching the time when my gardens are at their best—June and July—when yellow and red show their pretty faces.

Alas, the irises are on their way out, but here’s a final shot of couple of this year’s bloom.

Farewell, my lovelies.

 

 

Step by Step in the Garden

Along with buying lots of annuals to brighten my shady yard, I also bought a handful of perennials, including Jacob’s Ladder, which is now in bloom. The flowers are modest but pretty, and I am already planning to buy more plants for various spots in the relatively moist areas in the front garden. Plus, now that I have hoses in the front, I can baby, at least a little, the plants that like extra water.

This plant always puts me in mind of the Bruce Hornsby song, “Jacob’s Ladder,” and the plaintive line “All I want from tomorrow is just to get it better than today.”

Step by step, one by one…in the garden. And in life?

Spring Cat & The Last Episode of my podcast

Because of a busy Wednesday, I am posting one day early. Sometimes schedules must be rearranged.

Much to my astonishment, my shady front gardens, where few plants like to grow, are looking pretty darned good as my Yankee husband would say. I chalk it up to the thick layer of rich compost they received as well as to the hoses for the front that we bought last year. Watering is ever so much easier than it was when I had to haul it in buckets from around back where the spigot is. Thanks, Eliza, for the hose suggestion. This has been a dry spring, and the hose has gotten a lot of use.

Right now, white and green are the predominate colors, and in a perfect garden, there wouldn’t be so much sweet woodruff. But as I indicated in the first paragraph, the front gardens are a far sight from perfect. While it would be an exaggeration to state that I let the sweet woodruff spread at will, I do let the plant spread, and right now it’s looking mighty pretty, a froth of white that spills through the beds.

The sweet woodruff even surrounds my garden cat who serenely keeps watch over the front yard.

****************************************************************

Today marks the last instalment of “The Wings of Luck,” Season 1 of my podcast, Tales from the Other Green Door. In “Blood Bond,” Episode 12, Jace and Thirret deal with Donod and the imps. They also worry about their jusqua child Iris, whose supreme self-confidence is sure to bring trouble sooner or later.

There will be more stories about the elves of Portland, Maine. As I mentioned in last week’s podcast post, we plan to drop Season 2 sometime in 2022, after At Sea, Book Four in my Great Library series, is finished. Until then, all the episodes of Season 1 will be available on our Hinterlands Press website and wherever you get podcasts.

Thanks for listening! And if you enjoyed this podcast, please share it with others who might like it.

Plant-o-palooza & Episode 11 of the podcast

Is this a table at someone’s plant sale? No, it is not. This is my haul after going to a local plant nursery the other day. The abundance is courtesy of my generous daughters and son-in-law, who gave me gift certificates, allowing me to splurge.

I like most aspects of gardening. Even weeding doesn’t bother me. However, what I especially love is planting annuals in various pots and containers. Somehow I find the process soothing, and the promise of flowers and bounty never fails to lift my spirits.

From my back garden, a little something extra, a dose of perennial beauty. Love that mouth-watering purple. Irises are one of my favorite flowers, and lucky for me, they will grow in my shady yard on the edge of the forest.

**************************************

Speaking of Iris…here is “Reckonings,” Episode 11 of “The Wings of Luck” from my podcast Tales from the Other Green Door. In “Reckonings,” after dealing with Iris, Jace and Thirret take Donod and the imps into the woods. Episode 11 is the penultimate episode of “The Wings of Luck,”and next week, Season 1 will come to an end. We have plans for Season 2 to air in 2022, after I’ve finished At Sea, Book Four in my Great Library Series.

No-Mow May & Episode 10 of My Podcast

Being Franco-American, I like things to be tidy and spic-and-span. Even though I don’t have the time or energy to clean the way I once did—writing, in various formats, absorbs much of my day—our home and yard are always neat and picked up. That way, when I do have the opportunity to clean, I don’t have to bother with putting things away first.

Usually, we start mowing the yard sometime the second week of May. Because we live in the woods, our lawn is spotty in the spring, but there are still areas that look downright shaggy. This nags at my Franco-American sensibility.

This year, however, we are adopting a new routine—no-mow May—and will be waiting until June before cutting the grass. In many places around the world, May is a time of abundant bloom. My blogging friends in warmer climates have posted many photos of all the glorious May flowers in their yards and and in wild areas near their homes. However, in the northern United States and in Canada, the riotous blossoming doesn’t start until late May or early June. In Maine, May is a pretty sparse time for all the pollinating insects.

Therefore, gardening and nature experts are advising northern homeowners to wait to mow until June when there are plenty of flowers for the pollinators. This we will do. After all, where in the world would we be without our pollinators? In tough shape, that’s for sure.

So for this month, I’ll try not to mind the shaggy bits in our yard. Instead, I’ll think of all the little buzzers who bring so much life to our town. Those dandelions and scraggly areas are there for you, my pollinating friends.

Heck, I’ll even go low for a picture of the violets that are dotting our backyard. Between exercising and losing weight, I can actually lie on the ground to take pictures and then get up all by myself. Progress!

*********************************************

Today, “Showdown at Crescent Beach,” Episode 10 of “The Wings of Luck,” is available on my podcast Tales from the Other Green Door. Two more to go until the end of this story and Season 1. In “Showdown at Crescent Beach,” Jace, Thirret, and Niall discover that Iris has tricked them and has put them all in danger.

A Time of Delight

Beautiful May is here. Although there are no showy blooms in my yard in the woods, there are little delights sprinkled here and there.

In the front yard, tiny bluets on our mossy lawn.

In the backyard, equally tiny white violets.

All around, ferns continue to unfurl.

In the raised garden in the backyard, everything is green, but as my blogging friend Quercus has reminded me, green is a color, too. The emerging plants are so lovely and fresh, and in some ways, this is how I love them best, before the ravages of little chomping creatures.

In the shadier front yard, the plants aren’t as far along, but they are coming up, and I only have one more bed to clean.

I’m hoping to get the last bed done before Wednesday, when Clif and I are scheduled to have our second vaccine.

Spring time, busy time. But what a glorious time.

Some Thoughts on Labor Day 2020

This morning the sky was a bright overcast, a perfect time for poking around the yard and taking pictures of small things. The flowers are definitely past their best, but there are a few bright spots here and there.

Perky Black-eyed Susans,

Asters, those stars of fall,

and bright wands of Goldenrod.

In the United States, today is Labor Day, which Wikipedia defines as “a federal holiday in the United States celebrated on the first Monday in September to honor and recognize the American labor movement and the works and contributions of laborers to the development and achievements of the United States.”

I think of my Franco-American ancestors—potato farmers and factory workers—mocked and derided for being “dumb Frenchman.” In truth, these “dumb Frenchman” did much of the hard, back-breaking labor that kept Maine going. Why weren’t they respected for the work they did? Even today, the contributions of Franco-Americans are seldom acknowledged.

If we cast the circle wider to encompass other ethnic groups and workers—the ones who pick our crops, the ones who work in stores, the ones who bravely go forth during this pandemic so that we can eat and have the necessities of life—we see that the same sort of disrespect is extended to them. Somehow these workers are so lowly that they do not deserve a decent wage, health care, or affordable housing and transportation.

To borrow from my blogging friends across the pond, rubbish! Covid-19 has revealed exactly who is essential and who is not.

So on this Labor Day, and indeed on every other day, let’s honor the men and women who work so hard and get so little. And, maybe, just maybe, we can think about what we, as a society, can do to make their lives a little more comfortable.

And then put those thoughts into actions.