Category Archives: Gardening

The Gardens in Winter

Blogging friends in New Zealand and Australia have been sharing photos of their beautiful spring gardens. Am I envious? You bet I am. Spring is one of my favorite times of year when everything bursts into glorious life.

Because I live Maine, which is in the northern hemisphere, winter is here, and spring is but a distant dream. I know. Technically it is still fall, but it sure doesn’t feel that way in northern New England.

However, my gardens in winter have their own austere beauty, especially now that I don’t trim back the plants in the fall. This idea came to me from my blogging friend, Jason of Garden in a City, who maintains that it is better for the natural world to leave the stalks and stems until spring. I have been doing this for several years and have become a real fan of this method.

Here are some pictures that I recently took in the front yard. Because we live in the woods, the lighting can be tricksy. This time of year, the sun—low in the sky—flickers briefly across the front yard and hardly makes it to the backyard.

So onward we go, spinning around the sun. Every season has its delights, even winter, whose cold touch stills all that is green and growing.

 

Farewell, High Heat and Humidity!

Over the Fourth of July weekend, the heat and high humidity cracked down on us, and we had four fairly miserable days. But then on Saturday night came a booming thunderstorm that knocked out the power in some towns—not ours, thank goodness—and also knocked out the heat.

Now the weather is delightful. Yesterday was warm and sunny but not too hot, and the night was so cool that we had to close the windows when we went to bed. Blankets were in order, and I was actually chilly when I woke up.

Today promises to run the same course. In my memories, this is how Maine summers once were all the way through September, with maybe a few hot, humid days  at the end of July.

How long this delightful weather will last I do not know. But I’ll take it, and tonight will definitely be a patio night.

My gardens are July gardens, where there is actually a bit of color—primarily yellow—tucked in among the green. Here is a view of the front yard.

Several readers asked if I have astilbe in my gardens. Yes, I do, in the few patches of moist shade that I have in my beds. Astilbe is such a delicate, ethereal flower, one of my favorites.

Hostas are not known for their beautiful blooms, but this one might be the exception to that rule.

Here’s another shot of the ferns, hostas, and a daisy. Just because.

Finally, out back to the patio, where the evening primroses—or sundrops, if you will—are in glorious bloom by the fountain.

Ah, Summer! Such a beautiful season even when it’s too hot.

Welcome, July!

July is here, and what a beauty of a day with sun, low humidity, and a temperature that is just right, warm but not too hot. The window by my desk is open, and as I work I can smell the sweet air coming from the trees and the woods. The birds are singing, and when I look outside, I see green, green, green. Nature is calling “come outside.” Unfortunately, I must work at my desk.

June was a cool, rainy month, and while it didn’t bother me personally—I am comfortable in a broad range of temperatures, from 65°F to 82°F—it has not been good for vegetables and hay. Everything is late, late, late, and farmers are worried about how they are going to feed their animals. The fields are too saturated, and the hay can’t be cut. This sounds like an old-fashioned concern from bygone days, but Maine is a rural state blessed with farmers young and old. We have plenty of goats, sheep, cows, chickens, and horses as well as tourists. While drought is never welcomed, I do hope that July, August, and even September will bring abundant sunshine so that the hay can be cut, and the farmers can feed their animals this winter.

The perennials in my gardens are doing well, and here is the view of our front yard.  Still mostly green, with a touch of yellow. I have made my peace with having a garden with subtle colors and have even learned to love it. (But, oh, how I still drool over the gardens of some of my blogging friends. You know who you are.)

Here is a closer look at some of the yellow against, of course, a hosta.

July is the time for fledglings, young birds that are mostly grown up but still follow their parents around and depend on them, at least to some extent, for food. I have an extremely soft spot for these fledglings who are on the cusp of independence. Such a harsh, dangerous world for them, and it touches me to see how the parents tend to clamoring offspring that are no longer small.

Because we live in the woods, we have the opportunity to see the fledglings of many birds—crows, nuthatches, gold finches, to name a few. The other day, it was a woodpecker, eating from the bird feeder and then feeding the fledgling who waited patiently underneath.

Best of luck, fledgling woodpecker! May you thrive and mature to raise families of your own.

The Joys of Spring

Readers, it has finally happened—the event I have been looking forward to since the spring equinox, and it ranks right up there with forsythia and the song of the peepers. Drum roll, please: yesterday marked the first time this year that I was able to hang laundry outside on the line. Happy, happy day! From now until October, laundry will be hung on the line rather than inside on racks.

As if that weren’t enough joy for one week…the maple tree is in bloom. These tiny bursts of red are one of my favorite flowers. They complement every bird, no matter the color, that comes into the backyard—the   goldfinches, the cardinals, the chickadees, the nuthatches.

And what a joy to have birds around me as I worked in the garden. I heard the sharp rat-a-tat-tat of a woodpecker, the twitter of the goldfinches, the caw of a crow, and the haunting call of a loon.

With such music, it seemed as though the big bed in the backyard was cleaned in no time.

Even more joy: The ferns are starting to come up.

And last but not least, Clif sifted compost for me, and this will soon go in the back garden.

Such a lot of joy for one week. Who could ask for anything more?

 

 

Farewell to Hostas

For the past week, it has been unusually warm—in the 70s. It hardly feels like autumn in Maine at all.

But the the hostas know that summer is over.

I’ve begun emptying and cleaning pots. This weekend, I’ll start bringing in the garden ornaments.

Somehow, it is always more fun to bring them out in the spring than it is to put them away in the fall.

On other matters…I have done major editing on my book Library Lost, and I will soon be receiving the first proof copy. Always exciting, but the work is not done. I’ll be going over the proof copy line by line. Onward, ho!

A couple of days ago, a terrible hurricane slammed the coast of Florida. What devastation! I wonder what will become of coastal communities, especially in the South, as the oceans continue to heat up and the storms get worse and worse.

In North Carolina, where our daughter and son-in-law live, the hurricane notched itself down to a tropical storm. Nevertheless, the winds were strong, trees were toppled, and there were widespread power outages. In fact, my daughter and son-in-law don’t have electricty. At least they have water. But as a veteran of power outages, I can attest to the fact that they are no fun at all. For us, what a happy day it is when the refrigerator whirs back to life as the power comes back on.

But how horrible to lose everything in a storm. Somehow, when compared with such destruction, a power outage doesn’t seem that bad.

 

Welcome to the Jungle

Hot and humid. Humid and hot. This was the theme of July,  and so far,  August is following suit. Clif and I can only look back wistfully to the days when Maine summers were delightful—not too hot, not too humid.

The plants, on the other hand, thrive in the humidity, and my little herb garden, with the cucumbers and tomatoes tucked in, has exploded into a jungle.

Mint has a bad reputation for hogging a garden, and while it often does grow where it doesn’t belong, mint has nothing on oregano, which is so out of control that I hardly know how to contain it.

Here is the mint, more or less confined to one corner of the bed.

Now behold the oregano. At night, I am certain that I can hear it call, “Feed me, Laurie!”

Fortunately, there is room for wee, delicious cucumbers,

as well as wee tomatoes that I hope will be delicious.

As a bonus picture, here is Clif by the tomatoes, so that readers can appreciate just how out of control this garden is. (I know. I know. I should prune. Somehow, I just can’t bring myself to do it.)

Finally, to borrow from one of my blogging friends and her blog CIMPLE, here’s a little something to start the weekend.