Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Headlong Into Summer

"Michael attacked the nettles and bindweed round the rosemary tree with exhilaration.
An hour later, exhausted but triumphant, he sat down on the wall of the paved court, sleepily relaxed in the sun, and contemplated the result of his labors.  He thought it good, for like all amateur gardeners he did not worry about roots he could not see. the whole bed below the wall was [above ground] clear, the lemon verbena could breathe and the sun could reach the white violets under the wall, and the small deep purple ones that grew about the roots of the rosemary tree."
 From "The Rosemary Tree" by Elizabeth Goudge

On Sunday afternoon I spent several hours 'attacking' the weeds that surround the rugosa, Roserie de L'Hay and the nameless rose in the far corner of the perennial strip. It was hot work, made more difficult by the over-hanging branches of the rose which had a tendency to snatch at my hair.  I had to be mindful of the two still fragile clematis vines on the trellis against the fence, and the clumps of coneflower and phlox around which I tried to maneuver with care.
Although there are other weeds [whose names I seem to forget] the main culprits are bindweed and mugwort. 
I stood to loosen clumps of heavy soil with my flat-tined fork, then knelt [most uncomfortably] with a slender pointed trowel to get at the weeds. 
Bindweed grows from a sturdy and tenacious root, sending out tendrils which climb and twine round every plant in the vicinity. 
Mugwort spreads by stringy tough roots that pop up a new plant, move on a few inches and send up another--and another....
I was very aware that much of my labor was removing only what was visible above the ground....a classic exercise in futility.
I worked on for nearly three hours, knees protesting, feeling the ache that was settling into shoulder and neck muscles. 
Inside, showered, twigs and leaf bits brushed out of my hair, I put together a casserole of spaghetti and meatballs, made a pitcher of lemonade.
I found the old book with its yellowed pages and tattered paper cover, fell into my rocking chair and began to read the familiar story.

Today I yanked out the mugwort which has been strangling a clump of Lady's Mantle.  Mugwort, I have discovered, in addition to its thuggish manner of taking over a garden,  has at this stage of burgeoning growth, an unpleasant almost musty odor which causes my nose to run.
Storm clouds were gathering and a few spatters of rain moved in to the accompaniment of thunder.
Jim was making arrangements to deliver a tractor he had sold and I decided to ride along. 
The storm broke as we roared down the lane, the buyer following in his car.
Water pounded against the windshield, tree branches tossed under the onslaught.
The trip took less than an hour--following twisting roads, moving in and out of the rain.

Tonight I sat on the porch in the green gloaming, Charlie-cat on my lap, idly watching the pinpoint lights of fireflies, enjoying the scent of clove pinks,  the whir of hummingbirds' wings as they zoomed in for a late evening snack.  A breeze stirred, driving away the heat of the day.

I have two bags of fresh potting soil.  The 2 year old rosemary needs a larger pot;  a sturdy lantana needs a planter;  a few nursery plants need to go into the garden.
Perhaps there has been enough rain to make digging a bit easier. 
I leave you with photos taken over the past few days.

The trellis where I've been battling weeds

Sunshine on a full blown rose

Therese Bugnet

First year of bloom for this iris

Dianthus 'Old Vermont'

The first peony to open--hemmed about with mugwort.

Clematis: 'The President' and 'Duchess of Edinburgh


  1. Gardening is hard work, but with wonderful rewards as witnessed by your photos.

    I so enjoy your way of writing about your life and feel like I am right there beside you.

    Have a great day ~ FlowerLady

    1. Rainey; The garden work is never really done, is it? The flowers are their own reward--then there is the awareness of the birds keeping me company, the elusive meadow scents that drift by on the breeze, even the rose petals scattered beneath the bushes, the seed heads forming on the heirloom clematis--all so beautiful.

  2. I enjoyed this post, so similar to my own days (minus the tractor!). My enemy weeds are bindweed and gill-over-the-ground, and in one garden spot dock has taken hold and is nearly impossible to kill off. I use a small flamethrower where and when I can; it has helped immensely to get some control. But of the glory of this time of year! When we can raise our heads and get the sweat out of our eyes, the beauty around us amazes me.

    1. Sue; I'm finding the bindweed a stubborn one to dig out--it doesn't PULL out. I have gill-over-the ground, dead-nettle [purple lamium] a bit of dock--the bindweed is the most difficult of those to deal with. Mugwort doesn't even bear talking about!
      Summer has come on so quickly after the long chilly springtime--when I raise my head it seems that the spring-blooming flowers have done their thing and vanished much too quickly.

  3. A flamethrower! Now that would make my gardening SO much easier (thanks Granny Sue!!!)

    Grass is my biggest weed here, along with Bindweed and why did I EVER plant Yellow Archangel? That is the biggest thug of all!

    I loved reading about your work in the garden and seeing what you have planted. I hope that your Clematis all flower spectacularly for you this year and that your Paenies don't get rained on.

    Roserie de l'Hay is about to burst into bloom here and the Aquilegias are getting up a head of steam too.

    You wrote, so eloquently: "Inside, showered, twigs and leaf bits brushed out of my hair, I put together a casserole of spaghetti and meatballs, made a pitcher of lemonade.
    I found the old book with its yellowed pages and tattered paper cover, fell into my rocking chair and began to read the familiar story."

    I was in the room with you . . . thank you for writing so beautifully, as always.

    1. Jennie; I think you and I are on the same page here--gardening almost compulsively, waging war on weeds and thuggish plants. Bindweed must be a universal plague.
      What I accomplish in the garden is so paltry compared to what NEEDS done, [and it doesn't stay done!] Still there is a sense of satisfaction when I stagger off to the shower or fall into the rocking chair to nurse my aches over a book and a mug of tea.

  4. I want to garden so badly and pray for the energy to do it. Your blog always gives me joy your love of gardening is apparent in all you write.

    1. Janet; I'm hoping to find easier ways to garden, ways that will be kinder to my back and knees. Having flowers is vital to my well-being. I have more plants on the porch this year--I can sit in my rocking chair to enjoy them [collapse in rocking chair!] and the ritual of watering and tending them is peaceful. I hope as the summer continues you will be able to ease back into gardening and the many other things you enjoy.