Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Darkly Green Days

It was well that the hay was dried, rolled and under cover by Friday evening.
Saturday dawned cool and cloudy--one of those days when green darkness seems to press in, the sky seems low and brooding. There was a sense of waiting.
The rain came during the night--a drenching rain, sometimes calming to a sullen drizzle.
Sunday morning was darkly chill and gloomy.

Leaves and 'seed wings' from the maples were clogging the eave troughs, so J. fetched a stepladder and endured splots of water down the back of his neck while he cleared the debris.
Water seeped under the basement door, an event which always draws several of the cats to stare and dabble in fascinated horror.
I had promised strawberries and whipped cream for a Mother's Day dinner which Gina and her friend Ellie were organizing. 
I togged up in wellies, a sweatshirt with the hood drawn tightly over my head, a down vest.
I left my spectacles on the table.
Gathering up collanders for the berries I announced to J. that I would much appreciate that a fire be crackling in the fireplace by the time I returned to the house.
As I knelt in the wet grass, pawing through the leaves for ripe strawberries, the rain began to slant down again with a vengeance.
Willis and the tortie girls, my usual companions in the garden, were notably absent.
By the time I squelched back to the house with my two containers of berries I was wet literally to my shivering skin.

Willis--the deserter--was snug in the back of the herb garden, protected from the wet by the overhang of the roof.
In the kitchen I toed off my boots, clattered the collanders of berries onto the sink counter. Peeling off sodden  jeans and layers of shirts to be cast into the washing machine, I headed for the restorative bliss of a very hot shower.
The living room was warm and J. had coffee ready.
I sat gratefully in my old rocking chair for a few minute, letting the heat soak into my bones, before heading into the kitchen to deal with berries and sponge cake.
Although the weather remained gloomy, our gathering with friends at Matt and Gina's home was one of those times of delicious food and comfortable fellowship.

By Monday the rain had quit, but the entire surrounding landscape was wet.
Much too wet to work in the gardens.
I did the usual morning chores of feeding cats, tidying litter boxes, preparing breakfast.
When I went out to the front porch, watering can in hand, I noticed that several of the pots holding lavender seedlings were heaving with wood lice.
Moving the pots I found whole colonies of the beasties scumbling about.
I squashed them mercilessly!
I was sweeping the porch and thinking it would be an ideal afternoon to spend time downstairs sorting some quilting projects, when G. roared in.
I explained about the wood lice, where-upon she began twitching plant pots and porch furniture about.
"Its this nasty carpet!" she declared. "You need to get rid of it."
Removal of the shabby green indoor/outdoor matting which covered the front porch and steps has been on my 'to do' list, but not a high priority.
G. was already tugging at a rip in the edge of the carpet and making loud noises of disgust.
"Right," I agreed.  "It might as well be today."
Some of the carpet pulled up easily, some adhered.  We yanked and tugged.
As the remnants came loose from the steps, I uncovered armies of ants who began to rush about trying to carry their white grub/babies to safety.
I don't much like pesticides or herbicides, but I had G. fetch the aeresol that J. uses on wasp nests and finished off the ants.
With the carpet dragged off to the bonfire area, G. tackled the sad looking clumps of sedum and such which sprawled at the base of the steps.
I brought out the loppers and went at the nandina shrubs. [They were trimmed last fall, but the recent damp weather sent them on a frenzy of growth.]
I am not especially skilled at pruning.  I try to keep my balance while brandishing the loppers above my head to reach branches that are taller than I am. Its a bit like trying to cut one's own hair! 
One side of the bush looks too tall, so I lop away at it, then stand back and decide that the other side must be clipped again to match.
Hours sped by as we pruned, dug, raked, swept, carried trimmings to our bonfire.
The men of the family appeared at intervals, made helpful [!] comments, then found it judicious to be occupied elsewhere.
It was twilight before we declared that order had been restored!

I opened the curtains this morning to white mist.
Willis and company were tucked up on the wicker loveseat on the tidy porch.

You can see the effect of the pruned shrub at the end the of the porch and the newly
cleared area by the steps.
That remaining clump of sedum is slated for removal.
The blossoms are a sickly bubble-gum pink.

G. discovered that there is a vinyl edging along the front of the flower strip.
I think I'll clear the sod back to meet it.
Only a few bewildered wood lice in residence under the lavender pots this morning!
[I hope they weren't bumbling about looking for their deceased mates!]

A long view of the porch, shrubbery trimmed, shabby green matting removed.
[D. insists he preferred the porch with the carpet!]
There will be fewer flower pots lined along the front once I can transplant
the seedlings.

Soil much too wet to work in the gardens.

By noon the sun had eased out and I went along the edges of the perennial strips enjoying the poppies.

Wild onion springs up everywhere, to be tweaked out of the flowers.
Wild indeed!

I collected thousands of seeds from my heirloom poppies last year.
So many self-sown seedlings appeared that I didn't sprinkle out my saved seed.
Thus far I have none of the ruffled varieties from last year.
Ironically, the friends with whom I shared the seed will likely have a better display than mine.
I cherish each bloom.


  1. Glad you got your hay in just in time. Here, farmers have just taken the first silage cut so we have bare fields on some of the farms along the A40.

    LOVE your poppies. Glad to report seedlings doing well here, some pricked out and growing on and the rest of the tray waiting for transplanting.

    I feel I "know" your garden now, and I agree with you about the bubblegum pink of the Sedum flowers. I tolerate my clumps as they attract the butterflies in late summer, but wish they were a different colour!

    Glad you now have a tidy porch. MM - one, woodlice - Nil!!!

  2. Your poppies are lovely. Ours will not be in bloom for another week or so and our strawberries are still only in flower.

    I have heard that woodlice live in families, so maybe your survivors were searching for their kin! I know that they love the underside of pots in our greenhouse.

    Willis and friends look very contented on their sheltered garden seat.

  3. Thank you for another inspiring and interesting post about your country life.

    Your home is lovely as are your garden areas and I love your poppies.

    Your critters are really cute on the wicker sofa. :-)

    Have a great rest of the week ~ FlowerLady

  4. Those poppies are stunning. Willis is not silly lol

  5. "Right," I agreed. "It might as well be today."

    I did laugh, you are very like me. One day I chopped all the plaster and brickwork out from around an ugly stove while my Husband was at work. When he got home he was shocked to find I had dragged it almost all the way out on my sons skateboard LOL

  6. You have such a wonderful way with words. I love your poppies. This year I purchased some lettuce edged poppies from Tasha Tudor's garden. Hope I get a big crop to share.

  7. Sounds like a very productive weekend - your porch looks lovely, a great place to sit on a summer evening.

  8. A wonderful post - I love to go along with you during your day.

  9. Thanks for sharing your garden with us, such beautiful cats and plants and flowers....everything. Glad I am to be back reading your blog again.