Garden Tour March 7th

Now that the snow is mostly gone, it’s time to see what’s going on in the gardens. First stop… the front yard. The first of our concrete pigs–“Brick Pig”–made it through the winter just fine and looks ready for another year of welcoming guests to the house. As his snowy blanket melts around him, he looks warmer already!

“Brick Pig” emerges!

Brick Pig hangs out in a small rocky garden next to our driveway and the front porch entry. A few pots of flowers will surround him eventually. The big project this year (well, one of them anyway) will be redoing this pear-shaped garden. At the narrow end is a beautiful peach tree (irony!), and at the fatter end is a melange of perennials in various stages of vigor. Oh, and two rocks. :-/

Front “Pear Garden” is ripe for rehab this year.

I like all of the plantings, but after a burst of color in May, the whole thing devolves into a pear-shaped patch of weedy-looking things until the mums begin to bloom in September. Something must be done. On the up side…. variety. Lilies and hyacinths of various colors–they arrive first as you can see below.

See it? There–right in the center! Spring!

Then, the creeping phlox does its thing. And though the flowers are beautiful, it tops my list of things to rip out. I’ve decided that “creeping” is not a feature I want my plants to have, especially plants that lose their flowers after a few weeks and devolve into a pale green and brown rat’s nest. Yes, I’m particularly grumpy when it comes to creeping phlox.  However, there are other blooms that are a bit better behaved such as columbine (a favorite!), wild daisies, pink dianthus, red bee balm, wild violets, and a yellow and pink variety of flower whose name escapes me for the moment [ed. Yarrow!!]. Finally, there’s the purple salvia, inspiring almost as much grumpiness as the creeping phlox, and the mums. Yes, there is variety.

On the down side, the blooms don’t last very long and don’t spread themselves out over the whole summer. By the time mid-June arrives, the plants have pretty much said, “To hell with it” and gone on about their business of looking pale, brown, and weedy.  Certainly there is a way to get blooms all summer long… I’ve seen other gardeners do it. More research is required.

Moving on to the west side garden, we see… rocks. In a month we’ll see rocks and wild violets. That’s about it here. The violets (normally a shady, woodland plant) grew there on their own and seem to do quite well, once they get going.  I figured such spunk and tenacity should be rewarded, so there they stay. But wait… what have we here? A hole–always exciting! Snake? Vole? Mole? Crayfish? Chipmunk? Joe’s betting on snake. I can believe it because last summer we saw a huge pile of snakes (not kidding here… a pile of snakes) in our neighbor’s backyard compost pile. Well, we have only to watch and wait… I’m sure the owner of this fine hole will make himself/herself known at some point. Woo hoo! The first garden mystery of the year!

Hmm… hope it’s friendly.

A quick walk, now, around the back of the house. Not much to say here, except that our other two concrete pigs, “Straw” and “Stick,” are at their post watching over the garden boxes. These (the boxes, not the pigs) will hold the vegetables, as soon as we can design the correct arrangement of plants. In past years, we bought seedlings from the local greenhouse. This year, we’re going to try to start some of our own. We just need to figure out how to convert part of our garage into a greenhouse. More on that later. Let the adventure begin!

“Stick Pig” and “Straw Pig” wait patiently next to the vegetable garden boxes.

A Craft from the Past

A long time ago, in a fabric shop far, far, away…

I can’t remember why I got interested in needlework, although I vaguely remember embroidering the “Now I lay me down to sleep” prayer on a small piece of fabric when I was pretty young (a terrible prayer for a young child, by the way… fortunately, I don’t think I paid any attention to the words). I’m not sure that project ever got finished. I must have enjoyed it, though, because many years later I drove out to the local fabric store and purchased this:

So far, so good.

I remember thinking how beautiful the picture on the package looked–six colorful bouquets of flowers surrounded by an intricately patterned frame. This was a real embroidery project! Now, almost 20 years later, I’ve liberated it from its plastic grocery bag (poor thing, doesn’t even have a proper storage basket) and am continuing the craft. Actually, the grocery bag performed quite well–keeping it clean and intact over years of neglect. As you can see, it’s just a bit wrinkly. But the hunt is on for a beautiful new sewing basket!

It wasn’t just embroidery that kept me busy all those years ago. I crocheted myself a Dr. Who scarf in high school (sadly, I unravelled it for other projects… what was I thinking?) and even did a bit of knitting. However, since I could never figure out how to make anything other than a flat rectangular item, I lost interest.

I think I enjoy embroidery for the same reason that I like coloring books and painting–it’s a chance to bring a picture or a scene to life. What begins as a black and white (or tan and white), lifeless sketch is slowly transformed into a warm, colorful picture that is almost alive with depth and texture. When I was younger, I always imagined I was bringing the coloring book scenes to life. I also had a cross stitch project way back then, and it, too, has survived the many years spent stuffed in a plastic bag. For some reason, cross stitch doesn’t “speak to me” the way that embroidery does. Maybe it’s the linear flatness that doesn’t appeal; maybe it’s the incessant counting. At any rate, I think this is about as far as this project will go:

Fun while it lasted. Strangely symbolic…

But I make no promises 😉 because I do like the colors, and I hate to abandon a project.  On the other hand, as I look at it now, I’m amused by the “ghostly” figure standing in front of the school building. It’s supposed to be (when finished) a young student–or teacher, perhaps–on her way to school. Now it looks more like the “Ghost of Teachers Past,” a pale, forlorn figure gazing wistfully at this old schoolhouse… wondering how teaching and education got into the mess it’s in today–fodder for another post, certainly. Not sure yet, but I kinda like it.