Tag Archives: peony

Just a Glance

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This time of year, there are blooms bursting open all over my yard. The intense red of the poppies always makes me smile. Day Lilies are opening in yellows and oranges. Purple Iris stand along the walkway to my kitchen door. Peonies are just starting to open.

Can I share? Maybe. It takes a little thought. Too broad a view will show the things I’d rather not reveal:

  • A huge swath of backyard, still unmowed, is looking more like a field every day. When it is dry enough, I continue to plug away at it; I mowed for an hour last evening. When the grass (which, in my case, means anything green that grows in the yard) is three feet tall, it holds moisture and tall stalks bend rather than break as the mower passes over them. It takes several passes to get it down. The back lawn is not yet photo-ready.
  • I’m making progress every day in the garden spot. Still, there are several beds that are not yet planted, that have taken this opportunity to grow back up in weeds. They need – when the ground is dry enough to work – to be hoed and raked before I can put the seeds in the ground. The whole area is surrounded by a series of poles all standing at various angles. When the young man came to help me, I had him dig the holes and stand the posts in the holes. I told him not to “set” them, with small rocks and dirt, as I wanted to go out with my level, to make sure they were straight, before making them permanent. Once that is done – if it is ever done – I have to take a chalk line and line level to mark the top, and have someone come with a chainsaw to cut the tops off in a straight line. Then, the  whole area has to be enclosed in deer fence. And all before the deer discover that I have good things growing out there. Until that is done, it’s not ready for a picture.
  • The large area that used to be part of the garden, with beds for strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and asparagus is a mess! It is a combination of tall grass, holes where I have dug up things for transplant, and lumps of sod left behind. The tall grass makes raking impossible. I’m thinking this way: Once I get the rest of the lawn mowed, so that a major incident with my mower would not bring everything to a grinding halt, I will take my tough little lawnmower through that area, letting its blade break up the clumps while cutting off the tall grass. Then, I should be able to rake it out smooth. Until then, no photos.
  • There is still a large cluster of  stuff – for lack of a better term – that was removed from the old shed before it was torn down, that won’t fit in the new shed. Included in the mix are an old rain barrel and a pile of five gallon buckets used for hauling weeds or covering tender plants if frost is threatened. Important, but not photogenic.
  • Another mound sits near the outdoor spigot. Some things are trash from this year that I just haven’t yet taken away for recycle: empty flats and plant pots and fertilizer bags. Others are things that used to have a “home” on the inside of the fence line (funny how a fence creates a “room” and things get shoved to the edges) that now – since the big fence has come down – do not have a place. The compost bin, for instance. And the trash can that houses my charcoal and barbecue supplies. Not good subjects for a photograph.

So, I go around to the flower beds, and zoom in. Close enough to see the ants on the peonies. Close enough to note the tall stalks of grass among the poppies. Close enough to see the chewed day lily blossom, and the many spent blooms that a bit of time spent dead-heading would eliminate.

 

I may as well just show the whole thing!

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First of June on the Fox Lake Road

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The wind was strong all day yesterday, putting a chill in the air though the sun was bright. It made shaking out the rugs an easy task, as long as I stood away from the dust storm that ensued. Sign painting was a messy job, out in the open air. Mowing the lawn was an adventure, with grass clippings, dried leaves, pine chips and sand flying every which way. Aunt Katie – who chills easily – was bundled in layers to sit on her porch to do her gardening. Fox Lake, when I took the dogs for a swim in the evening, was so active I almost expected to see whitecaps topping the waves!

Despite the chill, we are seriously moving toward summer, now. The sun is up so early, it fools me into thinking I’ve overslept. I rush out of bed in guilt and panic, only to find it’s not even seven o’clock. It stays bright later into the evening, too. I keep thinking I’ll take advantage of the extra daylight to get more yard work done…but my energy fades long before the sun sets.

We’ve had a little rain, but it’s still awfully dry. It was a mild winter without much snow, so we started this spring with less moisture than usual. I’ve been saving my burnable trash, waiting for the fire danger to be eased. It’s getting to be quite a big amount, in a box in the corner of the laundry room. I may have to break down and haul it to the transfer station with my garbage and recyclable trash.

My strawberries are still white, but if the birds leave them alone, there will be a good harvest. If we get rain, I’ll have a few more pickings of rhubarb before it’s done. I found six perfect asparagus spears last evening, and ate them raw. The snowball bush is loaded with pale green – soon to be white – globes. The iris are opening in the side yard. Peonies – three, at least, of my four plants – have many buds. Lilacs are in full bloom, and fill the air with their sweet perfume.

And that’s how it is, on the first day of June, out on the Fox Lake Road.

 

Zoom!

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Today is an overcast, drizzly day here on Beaver Island.

This is exactly what I need!

I’ve been putting  many hours into getting my garden ready for Spring. My hands are dry and wrinkled from spending so much time in the soil. My joints are achy and my back is complaining, too, from shoveling dirt, forking compost and moving rocks.

There is progress. I have given away raspberry plants and strawberry plants that were taking over pathways. I thinned poppy beds and iris beds, and sent the extras home with happy visitors. Day-lilies left with everyone who would take them.

I have staked out my central flower bed, and am working my way down the row.

I first dig out the soil, to a depth of about twelve inches. I sift the weeds out as I’m digging, and have a bucket standing by for them. The next step is to rake the surface smooth, then roll out the weed shield and cover that with a thin layer of soil mixed with compost. Now I’m ready to move some plants. I dig up a clump of day-lilies, pull all grasses and weeds away, separate the plants, then settle arrange them randomly in the new bed. I want them to have distance between them so that they have room to grow, and enough nourishment to make the move without trauma. I do not want them to look  like I’ve placed them in regular rows. I want the tallest specimens mainly down the center of the bed, and the shorter  varieties nearer the stone border. I  cover them over with the rest of the dirt that I dug out, and border that section with rocks.Image

It’s coming along, but is still  only about one-third of the way done. This new bed runs right through space that last year had a 4’x5′ strawberry bed and – at the very front – a peony bed. Before I called it a day yesterday, I finished digging up the rest of the strawberry plants that were in my way. They seem fine, this morning, in their temporary home: a tub lined with soil and stored under the picnic table, out of the sun.Image

Today! Today, with the dampness outside, I will concentrate inside.

There is the usual, of course: rugs to vacuum, floors to sweep and sinks to clean. Every single horizontal surface in the house needs to be cleared of what doesn’t belong on it. Laundry to be done, houseplants to water.

In my studio, should I find time to spend there, I have twenty metal frames to assemble and fill with twenty sheets of plexiglass and twenty finished collages. I have four small paintings to frame and three others to order frames for. I have two large paintings underway and a dozen collages in various stages of completion. The studio could use a good cleaning, too!

I have committed to teaching an after-school art class to high-school students through five weeks in May. Today I need to complete that class plan to turn in to the program director here, and a materials list to send  to the Arts Council for dispensation.

Tomorrow I’ll be back at my regular job, so today I want to make a pot of soup so that I’ll have it to pack for my lunches, or to warm up for dinner if I don’t feel like cooking. As long as it’s drizzly, as long as I’m going to have soup bubbling on the stove, I’d might as well make bread, too! That sounds like it will warm the house up,  doesn’t it?