Monday, May 19, 2008

My Green and Grubby Thumb

The sun comes up each morning in a blaze of burnished copper, red-gold on the rim of the world.
I sit on the back steps in blossom-scented shadows and listen to a robin in the apple tree try out his spring song.

He hasn't gotten it quite right -- not yet -- but he's determined.

This weekend, I mowed lawns and planted the salad garden: lettuce and tomatoes, cucumbers and such.
Each morning I am amused to re-plant a few bare-bottomed onion sets, humiliated by night crawlers that struggled manfully during the dark hours to haul them by their stems into their tiny holes.

Then I tackled the herb garden by the fountain and banished, once more, forget-me-nots and creeping bell flower and herb robert, transplanted the chives and lemon balm, comfrey and borage -- all intent on invading space beyond their own allotted beds -- and trimmed the sprawl of sage and thyme and lavender.

I potted petunias, scarlet petunias, pink and white and burgundy petunias, petunias pale yellow and mauve, and placed them on the terrace by the front door, for their fragrance surprises visitors like a kiss.

And above it all, the smell of apple blossom, of white and purple lilac, is like a blessing, like a promise, like a song.


SzélsőFa said...

I love May for the miracle it does to the senses.
I also love the promise it holds.
In our garden, lilac is over, and almost all the dry remnants of flowers have been cut off by now, by the dutiful gardener, ie. me:).
We have petunias in various shades of purple and yellow.

StarvingWriteNow said...

Thank God for gardening. I have a feeling I'm going to be doing a lot of it this summer.

Stephen Parrish said...

Don't forget: anniversary tribute to Miss Snark on Pat Wood's Blog starting May 20th.

Bernita said...

So sweet, so brief are lilacs, Szelsofa.

A lot of work but a real pleasure, WriteNow.

Thank you, Steve. Saw that.
People, take note.

BernardL said...

An eye opening reverie of simple pleasures, wonderfully reported.

haunted author said...

gardening is what I should have done over the weekend- instead I fell under the spell of a new mystery series-John Dunnings "Bookman series" Up way too late reading last night and am paying for it this am.

I planted the greens garden sometime ago- Lettuce, spinach, kale, radishes, etc. We are getting lettuce for sandwiches now, and probably up to full salads by the end of the week. Just now putting out tomatoes, cucmbers, peppers.

I did some major work in the herb garden last week, though more needs to be done. I replaced the Rosemary, put in some new Cilantro, trimmed back the thyme,chives, Lavender is in a seperate place, as is the rue and feverfew. Basil is so tender, I'm waiting to put it out with the tomatoes- though its looking quite nice under my growlamps.

Robyn said...


We should move sometime in December, where I will be able to plant in the open ground again. Pots on the patio just don't have the same effect.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Bernard.

Haunted, when the lilac is in full bloom it's usually safe to put out the tender plants.

Bernita said...

Much easier to keep weeded though, Robyn!

SzélsőFa said...

I know it's a non-gardening blog Bernita, but re: weeding. have you tried mulching?
It works quite well in our veggie garden.

Bernita said...

Szelsofa, in my life as a gardener, I've tried just about everything.
When we had a big vegetable garden, mulching worked fairly well, though depending on the weather, mulch can provide home for bugs and mold.
Now, since the salad garden is so small, one might as well hoe and I prefer hands-on for herbs.

haunted author said...

Living in Kentucky, my rule of thumb for putting out tenders is wait until after Derby.

We got hit by an unusually late frost last year- it killed the apples, peaches, blueberries. My town has a blueberry festival in June- last year we had the festival- though there were no blueberries!

I'm being overly cautious this year.

(well, that's my excuse anyway, the awful truth is- I just haven't done it yet.....)

Dave F. said...

I pay the neighbor kid to mow what I call a lawn. The small deer herds eat everything flowering so it's green. I kinda like the unkempt wilderness look.

Bernita said...

I know about that - should have had the onions in weeks ago.
If frost should threaten here, Haunted, I will dig out the sheets and cover the tender ones.

Dave, we have a totally chauvenistic lawnmower. It simply will not start for me, no matter what I do. Won't start until a male - either my husband or a neighbour - pushes the primer.

ChrisEldin said...

Beautiful post, and beautiful photo!!
We won't be home in time to plant too many vegetables. But tomatoes we can get in.

The lady who owned the house we just bought was an avid gardener. She handed me a roll of papers that looked like architectural plans. They were the names of the plants, flowers, shrubs, and trees, with intricate diagrams, etc.
I'm going to try my best to keep her garden going. Though I'm afraid she'll drive up from North Carolina and do spot checks!

Bernita said...

Thank you, Chris.
What a gift to have the plans! Some flowers look like weeds when they first come up.

writtenwyrdd said...

I have also spend a number of happy hours weeding the flower beds. I'm going to get the yard in shape if it wrecks me. And this year I bought a bunch of annuals (violettas aka Johnny jump ups) which will give me some much needed color.

You are fortunate in your herbs. Pretty much nothing of the herb garden survives the winters here unless I bring it indoors. Except mint, which is, really, an invasive weed.

This year I am dealing with a massive collection of creeping Charlie (lawn ivy), bishops weed, and my big nemesis, burdock. Even Round Up doesn't kill that stuff. I have to dig it up individually!

But it's actually enjoyable. Now if the weather would only cooperate so I can do the work on my days off...

Bernita said...

Written, the Johnny-Jump-Ups often seed themselves. I like annuals that do that.
I moved my spearmint to places where it can run all it wants, even a pot sunk into the ground wouldn't hold it. At least the roots are recognizable. Yep, burdock has to be dug, nothing else seems to work. Hate Bishop's weed with a passion, even the varigated kind.

Dave F. said...


You want to visit my graveyard of two-cycle engine operated weedwackers, lawn mowers, hedge trimers and chainsaws? I have tiny gravemarkers for each of the little {expletive deleted} gadgets that died in my hands. Even electric powered string trimers fail to advance string no matter what I do to them.

I have no luck with lawn equipment so don't feel bad. It hurts me as an engineer to be that unlucky, but seomthing I do makes those THINGS hate me.

If it weren't for the dung, I'd get a half dozen goats to eat the grass.

Sam said...

You make gardening sound like fun, lol.
Actually, I love to garden, but only in fits and starts, and only on certain days. Other days I stare at the work that needs to be done and mentally place myself in a hammock.

Bernita said...

Dear me, Dave, that is annoying. That's why I stick to manual clippers and such when ever possible.

Sam,one of the reasons I prefer perennials for the most part - they allow for hammock time.

Jaye Wells said...

Petunias are one of my favorites. I prefer the velvety purple ones, like the bunch I have in a hanging basket on my back porch.

Bernita said...

"the velvety purple ones'
Another of the reasons I like petunias, Jaye, is because of that. The deep burgundy ones also resemble velvet, and the paler lavenders and pinks make me think of silk.

writtenwyrdd said...

I do red petunias on the front porch, in hanging planters.

I like how the johnny-jump-ups reseed, bernita, but they don't fill in like when you plant them from the garden center. We are now experiencing quite the thunderstorm, so the yardwork is off for the rest of the day. I was already inside though, because my quirky back said stop or suffer for the next week, lol.

Ello said...

Ah lovely post. And quite fitting because today is a beautiful day! I love gardens, but am not a gardener so I have alot of respect for those who can.

raine said...

Lovely, lovely description, as always, Bernita.

I have yet to get my fingers into the soil--so much grass to cut, and it's been so cool here! But looking forward to starting this weekend.
And it's been two weeks since I went out and sat beneath my favorite gnarled apple tree bursting with pink and white blossoms, inhaled, and sighed, very happily.

Bernita said...

Gorgeous against the white, Written.
Johnnies are the dearest little flowers.

Ello, thank you. I suspect gardeners are people who just never got over the childish delight of playing in the dirt.

Thank you, dear Raine.
A proper garden always has an old apple tree, I think.

Chumplet said...

I have done nothing - nada, niente, rien, zippo - in the garden. I did sow some wildflower seeds here and there, and have to wait to see what happens.

The weekend rain hammered the apple blossoms off the tree, but the lilacs are in full bloom in the backyard.

In a couple of weeks, the mock orange (or dogwood, I can't figure out which) will envelope us in its heady scent.

I'd have time for gardening if I had the money to buy plants, so I make do with the few perennials I inherited with the property.

An herb pot would be a fine idea on the back deck.

Bernita said...

Sandra, if we only lived closer I could share!
If the bush smells like jasmine it's probably a mock orange.

Jeff said...

"The sun comes up each morning in a blaze of burnished copper, red-gold on the rim of the world.
I sit on the back steps in blossom-scented shadows and listen to a robin in the apple tree try out his spring song."

These two sentences are a perfect example of good descriptive writing using sight, sound, and smell. Beautifully done, Bernita.
Good luck with your gardening, and enjoy the warmning weather.

laughingwolf said...

good for you!

those are some of the things i miss about southern ontario, but the year-round humidity became too much

Anonymous said...

I loved the first sentence, too - it's haunting me (in a good, muse-like sort of way) as I try to focus on anything else.

My gardening these days tends to be weeding, pruning and generally keeping safe two wee toddlers. I will be happy to have a garden again, when we're able.

Suzanne Perazzini said...

I'm jealous of you guys moving through spring into summer. We are well into autumn and then bad old winter arrives. The days are lengthening and it gets harder and harder to get up and go to work in the mornings.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Jeff!
It is so nice to be free to go outside without forty pounds of arctic fleece.

I"m willing to put up with a lot for the longer growing season, Laughingwolf.

Pleased you liked it, Aerin.
Pruning and weeding, alas, are a constant and inevitable condition.

And cold brings the silence, Suzanne.I was jealous of your season during the winter past.

laughingwolf said...

understood, i just like to be more comfortable, day to day....

Demon Hunter said...

My grandmother had an awesome green thumb. I love to spell beautiful flowers. It is so soothing. :*)

I am not good at gardening at all. Ah well, maybe someday! ;*)

Bernita said...

" i just like to be more comfortable, day to day...."
Quality of daily life is much more important than a hobby, Laughingwolf.

Here's to "Someday," Demon dear!

laughingwolf said...

i agree... that's why my sister's place has central air, in st. catharines ;)

much as i still like the niagara area i grew up in, and visit when i can, other provinces have their own charms

Bernita said...

Other provinces? Indeed they do.
I was born in the province where "green tomato mincemeat" is a familiar recipe - because tomatoes seldom have time to ripen.
And when we left, I felt I was losing Eden.

Charles Gramlich said...

Last spring we planted some flowers and intended to put a bed of rocks around them, but before we got that done the lawn guy came and mowed them all down.

Right now we've still got a lot of wildflowers going on back of our house.

Bernita said...

Charles, I've noticed a lot of plant nurseries offering wild flowers as if they were exotics.
I had mayflowers in my rock garden for years.

Lana Gramlich said...

Very lovely. Makes me want to have a picnic in your yard. *L*

Bernita said...

Be nice to have you, Lana!