Category Archives: Flowers

In the Cool of the Garden

Still. Everything is quiet in the hot afternoon sun. The birds are hiding in the deep shadows of the woods, and only occasionally do I hear one call. The little boy next door has stopped running, yelling, and playing. No squirrel chitters, no chipmunk squeaks. Barely a car goes by. People are already where they want or need to be.

Meanwhile, in the cool of the garden, that brute of a hosta—Frances Williams—blooms.

Minerva, the little cat, waits until nighttime, when she can romp in the dark, and no one will see her.

Except for the small bird, who watches and waits, ready to take off at a moment’s notice.

No matter the temperature, the garden is a mysterious place.

 

 

 

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Heat, Color, and Making the World a Better Place

At last the rain has come, and the temperature has dropped to 75° Fahrenheit. A big relief. But the rest of the week was so hot and so uncomfortable that today I feel a little woozy, as though I’m recovering from the flu. We have no air conditioning in our house—in the past, we’ve never needed it—but if this hot trend continues, we might have to reconsider.

Though it was hot, we had our Fourth of July gathering. While we didn’t solve the problems of the world, we did have this luscious ice-cream cake that Alice made and brought. How good it was!

Despite the heat, my gardens are looking good. Most of my plants are very hardy, and I hand water when it is needed. As I’ve written previously, because we live in the woods, I’ve finally given up on the notion of having gardens with bursts of flowers. Instead, I’ve succumbed to hostas, which have their own quiet charm. However, as this picture indicate, there is a bit of yellow to liven up the green of the hostas.

And a few astilbes, too.

Out back, where there is a bit more sun, we have a little more color—some orange to go with the yellow, and I really like the way the flowers look against my blue fountain.

Here is a closer look at the lilies.

Finally, I want to let my blogging friends know how much I appreciate your understanding about why I feel down in the dumps about this country. Near or far, I feel as though I have found a group of kindred spirits, who, through your writing and your philosophy, make this world a better place.

Many, many thanks!

A Garden Visit

This has been a week of visiting with friends and a much-needed break from fiction writing. I decided to take some time off, and I probably won’t return to fiction writing until mid-July.  For the past month, there was a mighty push to get Library Lost finished, and my batteries need a chance to recharge.  Of course, I’ve been thinking about the third book, and I’ve even come up with a new dimension called Down Cellar, which sounds like hell but is really a place outside time.

Anyway, I digress. Today, my friend Gayle invited me to come see her gardens, and that visit was the cherry on the sundae of a wonderful week. Here is the sign that greeted me when I pulled into her driveway.

That sign made this nature lover’s heart leap with joy, and as to be expected, Gayle’s yard and gardens were green and welcoming, filled with bushes, trees, plants, and water—all designed to encourage creatures that scamper, jump, flutter, and fly.

Like me, Gayle has a lot of shade in her yard, but she gets enough sun for various flowers, including white roses,

columbines,

foxgloves,

and a lovely delicate iris.

Most gardeners are very generous, and Gayle is no exception. She even gave me a plant to take home.

This plant is called Brunnera, and it likes shade. Those white patterned leaves are sure to brighten a shady spot in my garden.

Many thanks, Gayle—for the tour, for the plant, and for providing such a welcoming place for wildlife.

So inspiring.

Of Red Squirrels, Hummingbirds, and a Spirit Dog

Despite the cool nights and the occasional cool day, summer has come to Maine. In fact, as someone who has seen a lot of Maine summers, this, so far, has been an old-fashioned June with some rain, some sun, some warm days, some chilly ones. It is only during the past five years that Maine Junes have  become so warm. This June is a throwback to the old days, and it feels quite normal to me.

Rather than warm weather, summer in Maine is heralded by green in all its cool shades. Our backyard, indeed all of Winthrop, is enveloped by green—the leaves, the evergreens, the ferns.

Our patio is our summer living room, and Clif and I spend as much time there as we can. For much of the year, we are cooped up inside, and it is a relief to be outside, unencumbered by hats, coats, and gloves.

Yesterday, after doing yard work, we had our tea on the patio. A red squirrel, in a nearby tree, scolded us. I suspect the little creature wanted to raid the brown bird feeder, and we were too close for comfort.

“Have we ever bothered you?” I asked. “No, not once.”

With a twitch of the tail, the red squirrel continued to stare at me and chitter even louder.

To add to the backyard noise, hummingbirds whirred and chased each other away from the feeders. Occasionally, one of them even got something to eat.

A swallow tail butterfly fluttered by, too quick for me to get a picture. Best of all, the dragonflies have come, and the mosquito population has dropped noticeably.

This spring, I neglected to stake the tall irises, and they have drooped pathetically over neighboring plants—begonias, daylilies, and evening primroses.

Next year, I will try to do better, but even though the irises have fallen, they are still beautiful.

As I sat on the patio and listened and watched, the spirit of a black and white dog zoomed around the perimeter of the yard. Barking and racing, setting the boundaries.

Then the past and the present came together—the birds, the spirit dog, the flowers. So much happening on one little half acre.

Finally, I want to thank my blogging friends for all the kind words over the past two weeks, which have been hard for us. It is often difficult to know what to say when someone is grieving the loss of a beloved pet, or even worse, a family member or close friend. But simple words of sympathy really do help, even something as basic as “I am so sorry for your loss.”

Many, many thanks to you all.

 

 

Make Way for Lupines

In Maine, early June brings many delights, but few are as beautiful as a field full of lupines.  Every year, I look forward to their tall purple and pink spikes in the deep green grass. Lupines look lovely in gardens, but to me they are best in masses, in a field.

Here is a closer look. It doesn’t hurt to have some yellow buttercups in the mix, either.

Closer to home, in my gardens, everything is thriving. The hostas, not yet chewed to green lace by snails and slugs, are thriving and whole.

The chives are nearly in bloom. I like their spiky pinkness.

On a sadder note, yesterday we sprinkled Liam’s ashes in the backyard that he loved so much, by the ferns by the fence. We have a memorial bench in honor of my mother, Clif’s mother, our previous dog Seamus, and now Liam. The Buddha was purchased in memory of Clif’s mother, who was drawn to Buddhism. The cat was for my mother, who had a special fondness for these independent creatures. Now we need a stone dog to complete the set. A collie, if we can find one. We figure that will be close enough to a Sheltie. (Seamus was a Sheltie, too.)

This bench does not make our backyard a morbid place. Far from it. Instead, it is a place of peace and delight, where the memories of those we have loved come to visit us. They are always nearby.