As each year passes, Memorial Day is fast becoming one of my favorite days for pause, reflection, deep breathing and spiritual fulfillment. Just like last year, I am sitting in the garden writing this entry with my feet up enjoying the sites and sounds enveloping me. I have so much to do — beds need clearing, several plants are begging to be released from their small plastic cells so they may stretch their legs within the garden soil and the never ending list goes on. All these things weigh on my mind but I absolutely must sit, get this article done and really take time to be quiet. To accentuate the moment, I am listening to the beautiful music of Kristin Rule. Please click on the link and have a listen. It will add to your reading pleasure. I promise.
The dry winter, aphids, rabbits, hail, sudden heat spells but mostly lack of water. All have taken its toll on my garden paradise. What must be sheer spite, the garden is rebounding. Rather than wallow in all the things that aren’t as they should be, I shall celebrate instead.
In a large pot under the pergola, a lone columbine has thrived. Typically it is competing with the desert bluebells but this year none came up and this allowed the columbine to take over the pot.
Preface: I ordered these vintage (circa 1597) Irises from Old House Gardens in March of 2015. I tracked down these irises as they bring back some very special memories. It was very important that these bloom so I thought moving them would help — it did!
At the end of last season, I moved two large clumps of irises away from the house and planted them along the edge of the steps leading up to the top half of the garden. This is their third year in the garden and when the weather warmed this spring, the foliage took off just as it did last year — (but foliage was all I had last year hence one of the reasons for the relocation). Weeks went by, I saw no stalks forming. I feared that once again I would have no blooms.
One morning, during an atypical saunter, I nearly cried out with delight when I noticed those ever familiar little stalks forming off the sides of the leaves! Now, they are blooming and that aroma! If heaven had a fragrance, the scent of an iris would definitely be it. Just like Francis said in “Under the Tuscan Sun” — they smell of purple — a very delicate, delicious purply heaven!
I could keep going on and on about all the beauty that surrounds me now but I don’t want to take up too much of your time. 🙂 Before I close, I would like to share with you a little something I created about a month ago. I wanted to have a dedicated rose bed and I have been successful with that endeavor. When I was finished positioning my roses, I had a rather large patch that I ended up designating “to be determined”.
A month ago, I was staring at this space and weighing my options: A selection of miniature roses (they don’t really do too well in our climate), herbs or perhaps a selection of prairie flowers? I then realized what I absolutely must do. I tilled the soil so to disturb it to the point where it was very loose. I then gathered all my special poppy seed and scattered them all throughout the blank canvas. What an amazing blessing it is now to see them coming up. Soon, I will have a miniature field of them!
I have written about the Flanders poppy many times and I will reiterate that this is the one plant I will always grow. When those papery red flowers sway in the breeze, I am reminded of all I am thankful for and my countless blessings.
The poppies I grow year after year originated from a grave site in Flanders. It has been my goal to share the seeds I gather every year with all who want them. The ultimate goal being that this little red flower proudly sways in every garden around the world. Last year I sent some to my friend Gloria. She planted her seeds last autumn and has kindly shared her thoughts on why planting these flowers were important to her. I shall close with her words that beautifully encapsulate this day and the magic a bit of sentimentality can bring to the garden. Until next time, thank you so kindly for reading. Thank you to all those in our military who give so much every day selflessly so I may have a day like today.
My garden is many things to me but mainly a sacred place filled with plants shared from neighbor and friend, some specifically chosen plants which remind me daily to be grateful for those who touched my life with love and lessons. When I discovered my friend Ben had Flanders Poppies I knew they needed to be a part of my garden, and in asking, he generously harvested his seeds and mailed them to me. I sprinkled, covered, watered and wait with anticipation, while remembering those who paid with every breath, those young hearts, new to war. It is always the staring down of fear that brings freedom. Is that not reason enough to plant the little Flanders seeds, watch as they take the ground, stand honorably and remind me daily to be grateful, so very grateful.
Here is a photo of Gloria’s poppies emerging:
And finally, images from my garden. Blessings to you all!
Yes, actually, it will and has done so off and on for the last week. This in itself is a blessing. I have once again the unintended miniature pond I spoke about in my last blog post all the way back in September. Funny that the last blog post I managed to create was when we were having so much rain and here I am again writing when the rain is plentiful.
Prior to last week, it was not so plentiful and the idea for this blog post has been one that was formulated as I sat staring at my garden — thirsty, begging for water. Grass, non-native perennials, vegetables, etc. It does not help that my garden is sloped which makes watering a tricky task to say the least. That aside, I began to contemplate the very life force that made my garden….. a garden. WATER. I think constantly and by that I mean, several times a day every day about water. It is the life giving force on our planet and I become so exasperated when it is taken for granted. It seems some of our fellow travelers on this planet do not give a second thought when it comes to littering or what it means to have pure, clean water. So long as a faucet can be turned on and this precious liquid flows freely, there is not much more to think about or so it may seem.
As I was saying, I sat staring at my garden and I thought of the moral aspects of tending a flower garden. I do grow a few vegetables and herbs, it is true but nothing substantial and if I am being honest, these plants are not nearly as cared for as my non-edible plants. As such, my contemplative self realized I am using up precious water for mostly aesthetics. This plagues my conscience and it is something I must reconcile in some way. This growing season is just about half over so there is not much sense in changing everything now though it is tempting. Gears are grinding though and already I am formulating a plan to ease my conscience and my dependency on supplemental water.
First, I believe I should reverse my habits and focus on growing more vegetables and fruits. This way any water I use is for something substantial and life supporting. I know I can convert many of my planting areas for this purpose and with proper mulching, etc., I could use very little water that does not fall from the sky. I have a 70 gallon water barrel and when there is a good amount of rain, I ensure I am out there filling up five gallon buckets so I can almost double the amount of water I am saving. As I type, my barrel is full as are ten five gallon buckets along with eight three gallon watering cans. I have not had to run the sprinkler system for the week it has been raining and that is a blessing.
The cool temperatures that have brought this bounty of moisture will soon end and with it, my supplies of water will also run out. To top it off, in a week I will have to run the sprinklers again to keep that grass green. Oh yes, I am making strides there by trying to replace grass with varieties of clover. Interesting note here — once, in the not so distant past, lawns were PRIMARILY clover in arid areas (of which Colorado is definitely one of those areas). Then, folks started moving around and upon arrival to new destinations — that may or may not receive the same amount of moisture — they brought along their desire for grass lawns and so it began. I digress but will write more on that subject later.
I am sitting near the window as I create this entry and gazing out at the garden I am condemning. Thunder is rolling, small drops of water are falling from the sky and that beautiful cloudy diffused light is gently illuminating my creation. I do see some plants that would suffer in my quest to wean myself from supplemental irrigation but I am now realizing that I do have a lot of water smart plants. Let’s consider this entry a preface of a new evolutionary step in my garden. As days pass, I will monitor what does and does not do well with supplemental irrigation. Plants may have to be replaced but if I am half the gardener I think I am, I should be able to come up with ways to mulch and cultivate the earth so I can enjoy the beauty I so long for. The grass is a different animal altogether however and should my clover experiment not pan out, well, it has to go.
What are your thoughts on this? I would love to hear from you.
Until next time, blessings to you all and happy gardening!
And now some photos: