Last year one of my third-floor neighbors pointed out that our house is the prettiest one of the street, and that we really ought to do something to make our garden look as pretty. So this year, Mr. Amateur Hour Gardener Me ordered an ambitious packet of seeds from J*** Sch*****'s K****** G***** Seeds catalog. Today was the first possible day for me to get out and do something about them.
What did I order? It breaks down into three categories:
- Habitat: Since the second-floor neighbors installed their beehive last year (just out of view on the right in the image above), I ordered a bumblebee habitat garden of 21 different kinds of seeds. Also a butterfly habitat garden.
- Herbs: With a vague idea of planting in a sunny spot next to the house, and vaguely inspired by Henry Beston's Herbs and the Earth, I ordered Provence lavender, creeping thyme, and mignonette. Mother just sent me a packet of basil seeds she got in the mail, too.
- White: Still I cherish the dream of an all-white garden, a la Cecil Beaton. So to add to the lily-of-the-valley, I ordered some milkmaid nasturtiums and some lace flower (the domesticated version of Queen Anne's lace). Also some white forget-me-nots - who knew they came in white?
After a light breakfast, I sallied forth with coffee, seeds, and various implements to till the soil. My trowel had disappeared - probably tossed out at some point in the last year by the Now-Departed Roommate -
Before getting started, it gave me joy to assess the present state of the garden. The daffodils have come and gone, but now the tulips (survivors of the previous owner's landscaping) are out, as are the tiny purple violets, the branches of the redbud tree, and, alas, the dandelions, aka the Weed of the Devil. The bees like dandelions, so I have to modify this view - and yet I couldn't help digging up a few near where I wanted to plant other things.
We've all heard the expression "Man plans, God laughs," and I imagine other gardeners also think in advance about what they're going to do, and then change their plans once they set foot in the beds. Of course the soil needed to be prepared - I knew that - and wielding a rake is no big deal. Tilling with. . . with . . . with that long-handled thingie with the curved tines that is NOT a pitchfork - well, it's one thing to encounter roots, but quite another to keep striking debris. I harvested rocks, stones, pebbles, flints, and quite a bit of broken glass along the way.
And then there are the weeds. Call me a magpie, but there is always one more weed to pull out. We are particularly cursed with tiny (and not so tiny) maple seedlings. There's another weed that's tall and has white flowers and a shallow root system. And then there's this very bad weed with a hollow stalk and a tenacious ball-shaped root that requires a shovel; next time I'll bring along a crucifix and some wolfbane, too. One of them - the most tenacious - grows right next to the fence, and the root system extends under the asphalt driveway immediately on the other side. Not only that, the trowel kept striking flints and rocks all around it.
After planting most of the bumblebee habitat near the beehive, and the white flowering plants, my attention was distracted by the branches of the redbud and another tree that grow low over the very far corner of the garden. I've always called this the Woodland Corner, as it's usually very shaded. A holly bush fills in the back, and the redbud on the left and another tree growing in the fence on the right add low branch cover. The dark effect is enhanced by the bleeding heart that grows there (and is blooming now). Until now! I got out the clippers and trimmed those branches back VERY substantially. I'm pleased with the results.
In the photo above, it's not seen very well, but I'm holding a tall straight branch of the redbud that studded with its tiny red flowers. The suit of Wands in the tarot are always flowering wands and represent energy. Some neighborhood history: this redbud was the very first of its kind planted in the neighborhood; I learned this from an elderly lady who lived next door.
After 2.5 hours, I gave up. The herbs and remaining habitat seeds will have to wait until next weekend.