COUNTRY GARDENS BETWEEN STORMS – Marilyn Armstrong

AMELIORATING AND JUDICIOUS WILD PLANTING OF FLOWERS IN THE TINY TOWN OF UXBRIDGE

Our lawns are essentially wild,, too. I can’t turn on the hose because that pipe broke a few years ago and I haven’t figured out where to attach the new hose, (there’s a spout somewhere, but where?) — and so the hose is still in its original box in the basement.

Watering is hardly an issue. We are wet enough for several thousand lawns.

In the spring, the back lawn is covered with dandelions, wild violets, and Mayflowers. I love the yellow and blue combination. I won’t let anyone cut it until after they have all died back. Half our “front” garden is full of Asters, Columbine, Spiderwort, Solomon’s Seal. and Daylilies culled from the roads and woods. Other than the Roses and a big old-fashioned white Rhododendron that came before we moved in, all the other things we planted disappeared.

I think we have ONE remaining tulip and an azalea that’s too shady to bloom much. About twice a year, my son mows everything and hits the giant forsythia with an electric hedge cutter. Otherwise, it is what it is. Wild thing overtaking wild thing. Right now, it’s Jimson Weed with its bright purple berries (it came out of nowhere, but we have had a lot of birds and they bring seeds).

Jimson weed

We rarely go into the garden for recreation but we do occasionally hang out on the deck which is falling down. The bird feeders will go back up at the end of the month. I can’t wait until November. I want my birds back.

The dogs own the front yard and it looks like a site on which they shoot missiles. Garry cleans the pathway to the house, but otherwise, it’s pretty ripe. The other 4 acres are woods. These days, almost entirely oak behind the house and a 50-50 mix of sugar maple, oak, and our one and only decorative tree, the Japanese maple culled from my cousin’s crop (he has many).

This year, the wild grape vines are covering everything and growing insanely fast, too. As is the Bitterroot which is a transplant from somewhere else. Not on this continent.

There are a few miniature Korean lilacs I planted 20 years ago and are growing, but I have trouble finding them between the bigger trees.  Our only, very beaten and battered (and aging) lilac that is the size of a medium-size maple still throws up a few flowers. I need a very long lens to find the few we get and those are way up at the top of the tree.

Few people have much in the way of gardens. It’s dark from the canopy of oaks which shade out most other trees. We had ash and maple and we do have a fair growth of sassafras — but only along the edge of the woods.

A million kinds of grasping vines fighting for dominance. The rain has changed that. Last year it was wild morning glory which at least had a few flowers, but this year, it’s those huge grapevines. They have grown so tall they cover some of the mid-size oak trees.
I have ONE really well-grown maple right in front of my house which I treasure because it’s the only place on the property (other than the Japanese maple) that gives me real color.

Sunshine and oak trees

The deep green of the oaks become a golden bronze late in the season (November, usually) and the few remaining Ash change to bright yellow — usually now — but the rain has changed it so there is NO color anywhere.

At least I don’t have to worry about mowing because there’s no lawn. There was — for a single season — a back lawn after we had our backyard flattened and seeded, but the following year, after a wild and crazy winter of blizzards and brutally low temperatures, the wildflowers came back and the grass gave up.

It’s easier in the country. No one expects a big floral show (but a great ripening of tomatoes will bring admiring neighbors from near and far), so if you have a few daffodils and daylilies, that’s fine.

Everyone has one or more dogs. If you listen, you can always hear one barking. Occasionally, in the evening, they all get a good solid group bark going. It’s the Canine Earphone Collective. Free. No devices needed. That’s how dogs keep in touch, pass along the gossip, and let all the other canines know what’s happening out here in the never-ever lands beyond the city and suburban borders.

Back — now nearly 10 years ago — when we had our three long-eared hounds, they would sing in the morning. How I miss them! None of our current generation of dogs sing. No idea what DNA created El Duque , but the Scotties only sing if other dogs begin the chorus. Then they will yelp during appropriate moments in the finale.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Opinionated writer with hopes for a better future for all of us!

14 thoughts on “COUNTRY GARDENS BETWEEN STORMS – Marilyn Armstrong”

  1. You have explained to me what that barking is around dusk here. My section, of course, is a lot quieter with the loss of the three dogs east of me – Taco being the last. Another neighbor (who is moving away) has a miniature dachshund, but Riley is usually quiet unless you’re at her door. The owner of Austin (a white dog which I always mistakenly thought was a Westland High White Terrier-he wasn’t, he was another breed which I can’t recall the name at the moment) has got her daughter’s dog – a cross breed, but only sporadically. So it’s my two that have to carry on singing on this particular patch. Ziggy is definitely the leader of the band and will ‘sing’ loudly but I have to get him started. When Ziggy sings, Pudge will join in. I don’t encourage it as my house neighbors probably don’t appreciate it. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful yard!! I happen to personally think the wilder it is (and back to nature), the more beauty there is.

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    1. The “Evening Bark” was immortalized by Disney in “Lady and the Tramp.” I don’t know why dogs do it, but it’s definitely a “thing.” We are “natural” because everything else died.

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  2. What a beautiful splash of colour and a lovely nod towards the coming autumn and winter. I’m glad to hear your birds will be back soon. 🙂

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  3. Your flowers are all lovely and I like the daisies and dandelions too for their colours. It’s probably a good thing that you don’t have to mow a wild garden has its advantages. I’ll look forward to the birds coming back too, and the squirrels who will probably be not far behind them. I’m hearing a lot of bird activity but apart from the plover family and a persistent blackbird not much variety in the garden yet. I did see a goldfinch the other day so I’m sure the wrens and other little birds will be looking for nesting sites soon.

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