Monday, April 8, 2013

Garden Chores

We have had several mild, mostly sunny spring days in succession!
J. pronounced that the ground had dried enough to 'turn'--as tilling the garden is termed in
our part of Kentucky.
Pebbles the Horse being securely pastured inside her double fence and placidly munching grass,  we could finally concentrate on other needs.
[Thank you for all the comments regarding the horse tales!]

Jim is proud of this tractor, one of his most recent restorations.
He remembers a similar model from his teen years on the Vermont farm.
I think his happy grin attests to his pleasure in putt-putting along the garden rows, turning in the green cover crop, laying bare the bands of rich brown loam.
A light wind frisked about all day, carrying the scent of damp soil, pear blossoms, and fresh-cut grass.

I tackled the strip that borders the front porch.
It was clogged with purple lamium--an invasive wildling that is prevalent here.
Locals call it 'hen-bit'.
This plant can blossom and flourish throughout the winter months, taking over, as in this case, a strip of garden weeded clean in autumn.
Driving around the county, we see great swaths of the red-purple blossoms in fields that have not yet been cultivated.  The slender juicy stems of the weed pull up easily--the fine mat of roots clings to the soil and has to be dug out with a trowel.
I worked steadily, clearing the area around the daylilies planted last year.
When we came here, grass and weeds crowded up to the foundation of the porch with a sad and tattered clump of sedum flanking each side of the steps. I rooted out the sedum last spring, along with a variagated grassy plant whose name I forget.

I was given a gift card for my birthday and spent some of it on daylily roots and two peonies.

The daylily roots have been added to the cleared strip--with much assistance from the boy cats.
I'm pleased to see that the lilies planted last year have fattened into sturdy clumps.
I raked up dried leaves--the wind whisked them back.

The gaunt old pear tree is coming into bloom.
Two of the three seasons we've lived here have seen the ancient tree producing a heavy crop of pears.
Mr. Rogers who is nearing the century mark, tells us that this tree was of bearing size when he moved to the neighborhood as a young boy.

Pear blossoms on the lower branches of the old tree.

The goat willow tree at the bottom of the front yard is in that lovely stage of transition from pussywillows to golden catkins. The whole tree has a soft glow about it even when the sun hides behind a cloud.
I worked until dusk, firmly ignoring the protests of my aging knees.
The small strip beyond the clothesline presented some challenges.
Although I removed sod when I started that bed last spring, there were still matted roots that made weeding difficult. I dug out more of the omnipresent lamium, pried out clumps of other perennial weeds whose names I haven't researched.
I tossed clods of earth at the boy cats who were determined to roll on frail emerging  peonies and dig madly around the clumps of pinks.
As the ache in my back grew I questioned my own sanity in trying to maintain so many plantings.
I should have had the sense to put down landscape fabric before setting in my flowers!
I've thought that the mulch we used in the upper perennial strip along the drive hasn't been very effective in keeping down weeds.
After grubbing in the strip by the clothesline where no mulch was used, I can appreciate that the mulch has kept the soil more mellow and easier to work in the other planting.
I didn't garden today.

I cooked a substantial mid-morning meal, tidied the kitchen, made several dozen molasses/spice cookies.
I wrote letters, responded to phone calls, applied lotion to my stiff and roughened hands.
This evening I wandered the dooryard, collected cats, visited Pebbles the Horse, marveled at the scent of pear blossom and the sound of the frog peeper's chorus ringing from the creek across the road.
I watered the daylily roots planted yesterday, tucked some strands of clematis around the wires of the trellis, noting the fat flower buds.
A seed catalog is open on the table, and visions of peonies and roses dance in my head.


  1. Love your way with words, and your way of life is so familiar to me, - digging out the weeds in the garden that seem to come from nowhere, even over the winter months. I am not so beset by weeds in the garden here in town, but up on the hill our old garden is being taken over by cutch grass, Chinese Lanterns and an invasive purple daisy-like plant with bristly leaves - don'tknow the name. It was a gift, but I must get up there with my small garden spade and dig up all the plants before they get any larger.
    Time passes so quickly and hours turn into half days and aching muscles, and we need a day in between to putter! I hope your new peony and lily roots do well. Lovely post.....

    1. Hildred; You've touched on something I've pondered--the comparison between 'country gardens' set in soil and the seemingly easier 'town gardens' that have much more controlled plantings--containers, raised beds, tidy edgings. I've always preferred that plants be allowed to colonize, self-sow--an informal look. I'm having to concede that the work involved in my kind of gardening is going to be increasingly laborious with aching muscles indeed!

  2. What beautiful colours for the Daylilies - I've never seen a purple one before (here they are boingly yellow or orange . . .) But then I don't go to the garden centre much these days. I hope they all grow well without the "boys" helping them along! Lovely photo of J on his tractor - guess it's a Keeper! Hope you aren't too stiff today.

    1. Jennie; I have lusted over daylilies in catalogs and on websites which specialize--endless variations of color--but too pricey for my checkbook. The packaged ones from Wal mart always seem a bit dessicated, but they were half-price, and hopefully they will take root. I've poked sticks around them and around the emergent new peonies as well, hoping to deter the frenzied digging of the 'boys.'

  3. There is nothing, with the exception of a good book, more satisfying than time spent in the garden.

    1. Janet; Gardens and good books top my list of best things in life--to that I would add piecing quilts and baking!

  4. My husband would have loved that tractor. I'll just take a couple of those warm molasses cookies.

    1. Lillian; Jim has had a long love affair with vintage tractors--but let someone offer him a good price for one of his 'keepers' and he's off hunting down another one to restore.
      The cookies were too good--I kept nibbling!

  5. Oh another day described in such lovely and beautiful detail. Really, your writing style just is so delightful to read. I always want to join you in with your daily tasks as I read along. I can almost smell those yummy cookies.

    1. Softie; Details have always mattered to me. As a young person I longed to have artistic skills to draw or paint the beauties I observed. Instead I was blessed to discover 'a way with words'--I'm so pleased that you enjoyed the day wih me!

  6. I take my hat off to you wonder you ached somewhat ....I wish I could push myself through the pain of a poorly back ...I've tried only for it to get worse. I love the sound of your cookies ...really must make some cookies when I get back from Ireland ...only 5 days before we go and I still dont know what I'm wearing. I want to be smart but Emma says be comfortable ....its not a traditional format .... her dress isn't a wedding dress and steve is not in a suit!!! they dont want formal photos just atmospheric ones .....????what to do xx

    1. Angie; From photos you've posted of various events with your family I expect you will look both appropriate and lovely. I do admire that you are a person who can carry off a splendid hat! Comfortable clothes and shoes do seem more and more appealing, dont they?

  7. That pear tree is magnificent. I hope you're not too stiff too!

    1. Em; I intended to take more photos of the pear tree today--the blossoms are really out. Hopefully there will be sunny moments tomorrow when the tree, in a froth of white, will stand out against a blue sky. Stiff? Don't encourage me to whine about that!