Saturday, May 11, 2013


It amazes me each spring how suddenly the landscape goes from having sort of a chartreuse haze, to everything being fully leafed out. A few weeks ago, I could look through the swelling twigs of the trees to the pasture behind the barn. Today, there is an opaque green curtain around the back yard. Already, the front field needs to be mowed and the first crop of hay harvested. We are eating fresh asparagus, and berries are fast ripening in the strawberry boxes.

I am not a great landscape gardener. I don't know a lot about plants for the yard - sun and water requirements, growing heights, bloom times, etc. Plus, I have an amazing knack for killing things. So, my first choice for bedding plants are those plants that other people regard as rather weedy. You know, the kinds of plants that are prone to take over the flower bed, that you have to always be thinning out and throwing away.  The kinds of plants that can only be killed by highly toxic chemicals and voodoo. Also, I don't have a budget for purchasing flowers and such (they are SO expensive), so I'm a big fan of whatever my green-thumb friends are giving away. Thankfully, I know some awesome gardeners who grow plants so successfully that they are often willing to pass along the abundant fruits of their labors.

When we first built this house in the hay field and it stood naked on the hilltop with no trees or bushes or flowers to clothe it, my husband commented that he didn't want a bunch of poufy flowers stuck all around the foundation of the house - as he described it, he didn't want the house to look like it was sitting in "a cloud of flowers." We like green and grass and open lawn - which is a good thing, because we live in a hay field, surrounded by LOTS of green and grass and open space!

However, as friends began sharing their bulbs and switches from their shrubs, it became increasingly difficult to plant these treasures far away from the safety of the house. You know what happens to a small, lonely plant standing sentinel on the edge of a hay field, don't you? It gets mowed. Or weed-eated. Or trampled by a horse or a large child chasing a ball. I planted a few things out there, in the unprotected green space. Two crepe myrtles are recovering nicely now, after having been whacked off at ground level their first year. The canna lilies, they didn't make it. Nor the blueberries. Nor the little dogwood.

Feeling rather guilty, I began sticking things in the ground nearer to shelter. Daylilies by the front steps. Echinacea and daisies along the edge of the front porch. A patch of irises here and there. Not right up next to the house - I wanted at least a mower's width behind them, to make yard work easier - but, yeah, around the house.

One of the wonderful things about daylilies and echinacea and daisies and irises and such is that they don't die when I plant them! And, they spread quickly. I love walking around the house and enjoying all the colors and smells. Already, we have golden, purple, and blue irises, hot pink azaleas, white daisies, pink roses. The echinacea is forming buds, and the blackberry lilies and hibiscus are growing vigorously. Dead-heading the flowers is soothing daily therapy for me. I enjoy doing the "trim mowing" around my plants with the push mower - guess it's kind of like a mother protecting her children. I like to have my hands in the dirt.

Thankfully, Steve is pleased with the results, too. He commented yesterday how much he liked all the color around the house this time of year. It really is nice, after the dull gray of winter.

And besides, there's still lots of wide open green if we need eye relief...

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