The May weather has been gorgeous! Gardens and yards are popping with colors and textures. The lovely peonies and irises just opened this week. I have spent a few mediative minutes each day in my garden, planting, plucking dead foliage and blooms as well as watering. And of course, time to “cast my cares upon Him”. My mother’s favorite were purple petunias. I added some to one of my planters today to remember my mother this season. Our green perennials have perked up with the fresh sunlight, air, and rainwater. Our freshly potted herbs are thriving. This growing season we planted several varieties of mint, oregano, thyme, marjoram, sage, and basil. The basil is the lemon variety, and I hope to add that to my lemon tea bread recipe this summer. I will be hosting a workshop on the essence of lemon and herbs, sharing my lemon tea bread recipe, and how to write a block-out poem using a recipe. This will be held at a local farm. More information on the workshop is forthcoming.
Our resident fledgling robins made their way out of their nest over the weekend. We see Mama Robin flitting around at the edge of retaining wall and bushes between our house and the next-door neighbor church. Her little ones are under cover while they develop their wings and learn to feed themselves. The nest has been empty since Sunday. Robins will have another brood this season, so Dean and I thought to move the nest off our front door basket and fill the basket with something welcoming like a small ornamental birdhouse. But the nest was interwoven with the flowers, greenery, and moss basket. Dean found a huge piece of concrete to put in the nest. I searched for something a little less bulky. I found a couple of rocks at the dollar store, one says “love” and the other says “peace”. A clear message to Mama Robin to please find another place to lay your eggs and hatch your next brood. Plenty of trees and niches in our yard for Mama and Daddy Robin to build their next nest. We need our front door to be accessible. Peace and Love to all mothers, mothers in waiting, and those who love like a mama!
Every autumn comes the day to gather the perennials indoors for their winter home, the basement. Dean and I know it is coming, and make room in the basement under the plant lights. Some years it is sooner rather than later. For 2021, it is much later. The cool mid-40’s mornings warm up quickly to warmer, mild afternoons. The weather forecast shows a probable frost in the 3-day forecast. I pluck falling gold, orange, and red leaves from the plants’ foliage and take cuttings while the perennials are outdoors. The cuttings we propagate for next spring’s pots. I gather a variety of these cuttings in water-filled recycled mayo and jelly jars. Both of my daughters have a love for our green friends so some jars of cuttings will get passed on.
Our perennials grew lusciously this summer, such a long summer season with rain. Our showiest pot is a Kingston fern with a philodendron planted together in April. I trimmed that thing three times already! Now gathered greenery fills our basement under the plant light tonight, their home for the next 5 months. I need to harvest the lasting herbs of mint, thyme, basil. oregano, and parsley, so the pots gather on the kitchen counter for tomorrow’s project. Our last single ketchup and mustard rose gets snipped and put into a bud vase to treasure just a few more days indoors. My northern friend shares her last rose in an amber vignette saved before Minnesota’s killing frost.
A nephew’s wedding brought us to a few family gatherings this weekend. Dean and I found some Edwardian era reproduction hats while on vacation in September to wear to the costume rehearsal dinner party. I found a suitable dress on sale from Victorian Trading, and Dean wore a dark suit with a vest and skinny tie, and both wore feathers in our caps! A fun gathering to distract from my sprained ankle, caring for aging parents, and work schedules. This evening our front porch awaits a gathering of Halloween trick-or-treaters.
We have had such a wonderful spring for the garden greens, a full 3 months worth of mild temperatures and salads for at least 3 families. The summer heat cranked up this past 2 weeks, and the arugula bolted. Last week I pinched a few of the flowering buds, but as the temperatures increased so did the flowers on arugula. We finally cut the longer stemmed arugula and gathered enough stems for two vases. The fragrance was pleasantly earthy in the cottage for a couple days. The arugula gets bitter after bolting, so we say goodbye to our spring crop, and hope for a mild autumn to plant more. The lettuces loved the shade of the arugula, but will soon cease to produce due to the hot summer heat. That, too, will be an autumn crop if the weather permits.
This week the tropical storm brought Missouri cooler air. The windows are open for a welcoming breeze inside the cottage. The mustard & ketchup roses and yellow lilies grace our table and kitchen window. The herbs flourish to my delight, flavor enhancements and more nutrients to my dishes and drinks. What tops a glass of iced mint tea on a summer evening on the patio? The pleasures of gardening are many. And there is the more cynical view of gardening I had to laugh at. The other day I found this on a t-shirt online ad, “I garden so I don’t choke people. Save a life, send mulch.” With today’s societal woos, no wonder more people are picking up the hobby, rather I should say “the therapy of gardening”. The climates, weather and society, change from day to day, as author Madeliene L’Engle has been quoted, “If there is to be any peace or reason, we have create it in our own hearts and homes.” Have your heart and mind at peace and it will protect you and those around you.