Category Archives: Gardening

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.

 

To the Red Barn, Fernwood Nursery, and John’s Ice Cream

Yesterday was a finest kind of day, even though it was hotter than heck—in the 90s. For Mother’s Day, Shannon gave me a gift certificate to the fabulous Red Barn–thank you, Shannon!—and our first stop was lunch. I had one of my favorite things—a delectable lobster roll—and Clif had fish and chips and a side order of onion rings.

After that, it was on to Fernwood Nursery in Montville, where I met my blogging friend Denise Sawyer and her husband Rick. A note about blogging friends in general and Denise in specific: Blogging has enhanced my life  in unexpected and utterly delightful ways. In this country and in many others, through blogging, I have met a wonderful, creative group of people who inspire me. You might even call this a far-flung community of kindred spirits.

I met Denise in a roundabout way, through an Irish blog called The Aran Artisan.  As it turned out, Melissa, of the Aran Artisan, is originally from Maine, and Denise, one of her followers, lives in Maine now. Hence the connection. Denise found out I was Franco-American and very kindly sent me a book about Franco-Americans. I discovered Denise and her husband own a nursery that specializes in shady plants.

I have a shady yard and gardens with, ahem,  a few holes. As Fernwood Nursery is within driving distance of where we live, Clif and I decided to make the trek to Montville after our Red Barn lunch.

What a treat to visit Denise, Rick,  and their delightful nursery tucked in the woods. Truly, it felt like Clif and I were connecting with old friends, even though we had never met. Despite this being a very busy time for Fernwood, Denise graciously took time to talk with us and to give us advice about planting in dry shade. I came home with a Solomon’s seal, just perfect for that aforementioned hole in the garden.

Denise also told us a little about herself, about how she came from an old Connecticut family that dates back to the 1600s. Rick is from the Lewiston/Auburn area, and they own about twenty acres of land in Montville, which not only supports the nursery but also provides about 85 percent of what they eat.

Most of the land remains wooded, and Denise is quite rightly proud that they get so much out of a small footprint, their livelihood as well as a lot of their food.

As we sat outside in wicker chairs, I heard the clucking of chickens in a nearby pen, big with plenty of room to peck and scratch. In the background came the melodious song of large wood chimes, and it almost seemed as though the woods were singing.

Denise and Rick have what can only be called a flair for making their nursery a lovely place. Green, green, and green, so bright yet soothing. Lots of little containers tucked with different varieties of hens and chicks. Double-blossom white trilliums. Arresting sculpture.

Here are some pictures of Fernwood Nursery.

As Denise noted, “It’s a good place to be.”

It most certainly is, and we look forward to visiting again.

Now, you might be wondering how in the world we ended the day that would be in keeping with seafood and a delightful nursery.

Following Denise’s suggestion, we went to John’s ice cream.

As the sign indicates, the ice cream is handmade and oh so delicious.

What a good life we have!

Jurassic Park at the Little House in the Big Woods

At the little house in the big woods, it’s that time of year again. The full-grown hostas, only slightly chewed by slugs and snails, have gotten so large that it seems as though I’ve stepped back in time to the Jurassic era. Really, the hostas are so huge and so muscular that they are almost unmanageable. I know I should cut them back, and from time to time I do, but mostly I just allow them to have their own way. My yard is not exactly a gardener’s dream, and hostas are one of the few plants that actually thrive here in the dry shade. So, let ’em grow!

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Despite my grumblings, I must that admit there are other flowers ablooming, and in fact my gardens are at their peak right now. (Note, however, the fringe of the ever-present hostas.)

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I have lived at the little house in the big woods for over thirty years, and I thought I had seen every insect that makes its way into my yard. But, no. Yesterday I came across this little fringed creature. Anyone have any idea what it is? It just goes to show that even after thirty years, a small plot of land can teach you something new.

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There can be no doubt what the little winged creature below is. The wonder is that my wee camera managed to capture him at all. Score one for the persistent photographer who constantly takes pictures of birds but seldom gets a good shot.

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A moment of triumph, indeed.

After the Rain on This Last Day of June

Yesterday and the night before, we got some much-needed rain. Uncharacteristically for Maine, the month of June has been dry, and in some regions there has actually been a mini-drought. Last year was the same, and I wonder if we are entering a new phase with Maine weather.

As a bicycle rider and a patio hound, I love the good weather. As a gardener, I start to fret if it goes too long without rain. Then, when it does rain, I fret for my flowers if the rain falls too hard.  Like most people who grow flowers and vegetables, I want the rain to be just right—a nice, steady, gentle, soaking rain that has enough sense to stop after a day or so. Seldom do we get this, which means when it comes to my gardens, I am in a constant state of fretfulness.

Yesterday’s rain wasn’t too bad, and as the irises have gone by, I didn’t have to worry about them. It did beat down my pansies, but the pansies are getting leggy, and soon I will be replacing them with some other flowers. I haven’t decided which ones yet.

I do love how the flowers look after the rain. Somehow, drops of water make the blossoms even more lovely than they already are.

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Today has the kind of dry, sunny weather that makes Maine famous for its summers. Clif and I will be going on a bike ride tonight, and we’ll be grilling chicken for our supper.

What a fine way for the last day of June to go out. Many of our summer visitors are here. Lightening bugs flash on the window screens at night; the hummingbirds whir to our feeders and then zoom away into the woods; the thrushes sing every night; and the swallowtail butterflies are as beautiful as the flowers they visit.

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All seasons have their beauty, but summer’s is the deepest, the most nurturing. Plants, flowers, insects, birds, and other creatures get their fill of green life during this abundant time of year. When I sit in the backyard and just look and listen and smell, I feel as though I am a part of all that is around me.

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