LAST SUMMER’S GARDENS – Marilyn Armstrong

A Photo a Week Challenge: Flower

The daylilies aren’t blooming yet, though I think they will be before the week is finished. Perhaps this is a good time to remember the gardens of 2018 which were a month late because of the cold spring. I think we’re doing the cold spring again with the addition of pouring rain, lightning, and wind.

Good thing the climate isn’t changing!

 

THE GARDENER’S RESPITE – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Respite

My right shoulder hurts. A lot.

At least half of that is an old injury from my riding days … and the rest is probably hauling heavy pots — with and without food — in the kitchen. Trying to find a position in which I can sleep with that shoulder wrapped in a heating pad is interesting. Because it’s my right shoulder and these days, I have to sleep on my back because that’s what my back wants, I can’t find anyplace to put the electric cord that is not underneath my head.

It is a lumpy cord and includes the piece for changing the settings, which is very lumpy. It makes sleeping a dicey affair.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Meanwhile, in theory, my son is coming over tomorrow to change the sink faucet — assuming his back isn’t out. I also asked him to come by (if it ever stops raining) with his big electric hedge clippers and cut down the rose bushes and rhododendrons.

Columbine

There’s no way I can maintain them anymore. The flowers will get the entire garden. While the bushes will eventually grow back — probably sooner rather than later — at least I don’t have to stare at all those dead rhododendrons.

I will get a respite from our barbed wire roses and dying rhododendrons.

Bright lilies

I find a garden full of dead bushes a bit depressing. I don’t even know WHY they died, although they sent up a bunch of new, young shoots too … so maybe this is just their way of saying goodbye to the old and hello to the new? Is that how these bushes usually work?

Daylilies with red roses in the back

As for the roses, these cruel, barbed-wire bushes have been (ahem) a thorn in my arms, hands, arms, and clothing for about 17 years. I should never have planted them and they have totally taken over. They not only get tall, but they send out runners,

House in summer

Merciless and cruel, I can see how they were used to protect property. No one would try to dash through those bushes. I don’t think they could unless they were carrying a flame thrower and frankly, I’m not sure the bushes would care. They are very durable. They should be properly removed by an actual gardener, but I’d have to pay someone to do it and I can’t.

At least cutting them down will give me a season’s respite from their claws. I’m sorry about the rhododendrons, though.

We didn’t plant it sensibly. Didn’t leave pathways … or rather, we did, but they got eaten by the daylilies and roses. I never imagined a time when I wouldn’t be able to just hike up there and deal with the plants. Getting old is not only not fun, but it’s also a surprise.

You can count the years all you want, but you don’t really expect them to add up to “old.” No one plans to be old, even when we are planning for retirement. We think we will stay exactly as we are with maybe a few gray hairs.

I feel bad about it. It seems like murder. I’ve always encouraged plants to grow and cutting them down feels like a betrayal. I am comforted by knowing there will still be a few roses in the back and the daylilies will go into furious growth when they don’t have to battle with the thorn bushes.

You never imagine, when you plant a garden, that one day you won’t be able to care for it. It never crosses your mind. I was planning for an energetic old age that differed in no special way from being younger.

Oops.

COLORFUL WITH MEMORIES OF LAST SUMMER – Marilyn Armstrong

A Photo a Week Challenge: Colorful

Sunday (aka the day after tomorrow) will bring, in order, snow, sleet, freezing rain, and finally, rain. I know we had some crocus, but it’s buried under 18 inches of snow.

These are eighteen inches of frozen hard snow. Nothing fluffy or fun about it. I’m hoping the rain ultimately washes most of it away.

Photo Garry Armstrong
Photo Garry Armstrong

So, as you can imagine, colorful is later this year or memories of last year. I cannot bring forth the colors to come, so I shall revisit the flowers from days of yore.

July 2018
July 2018- Photo: Garry Armstrong
Daylilies and roses

NOVEMBER AND DAY LILIES – Marilyn Armstrong

FOTD – November 12, 2018 – Day Lily


Nice to take a look back to the flowers of summer. Hard, right now, with the cold and the rain and the wind, to believe we’ll ever have summer.

I’m glad I take pictures because I find them very comforting in the chilly nights of November.

The most reliable flowers we have got are daylilies. Some of the cultivars have gone wild and you can find them in the parks along the rivers. Otherwise, the roses  — once they get started — really hang on until the first snow. We get lots of columbines and for some reason, this year, the rhododendrons really took off. I guess they finally reached “full-grown” and it only took them 18 years — probably more like 20 since they were here when we moved in.

We moved them to a better — sunnier — location, but otherwise, this year, they grew like crazy and even bloomed a second time in October.

Growing wild by the river, a yellow daylily

November is a funny month. We’ve had some very warm months … almost like summer, at least for the first half, though usually it drops down and gets cold by the time we get to Thanksgiving.

When we lived in Boston, November 18th was a “shorts and tee-shirt” day. We walked from our apartment to a local bar for lunch and visiting local friends. It was almost 80 degrees (26.7 Celsius) when we went into the bar. Two hours later, we left the bar. It had dropped forty degrees and it kept dropping. We ran home as fast as we could. The warm November weather ended in two hours in the middle of a Wednesday in November.

This year, it has been cool most of the month. Although some of the roses are still blooming, everything else is gone. The trees are bare, except for the little Japanese maple. The television meteorologists are beginning to mutter about snow.

Oh no! Not snow! But at least we got the leaves cleaned up. Imagine the snow on top of the millions of oak leaves.

It isn’t unusual for us to have snow on Thanksgiving. I hope this isn’t one of “those” years. Talk about “unready!”

One daylily
Two daylilies
More daylilies
Chinese daylilies

MEMORIES OF SUMMER – Marilyn Armstrong

Memories of Summer – FOTD – November 2, 2018


Suddenly, I realized that it is really getting to the end of the year and I don’t remember very much of it. One of my two (the small one) bird feeders arrived today. I have to dump the flowers to hand the feeders and I haven’t bought any feed yet. But I will. We get money on Thursday and bird feed is on my list. I have no idea how much to buy, either.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

One is designed mainly for bigger birds and holds sunflower seeds. The little one is for the little birds and holds “regular” birdseed.

I will work it out.

Bright lilies

Meanwhile, I thought I’d show off a few actual flowers.

Memories of summer, the daylilies, and roses

OVER? OR A FRESH START? Stark #writephoto – Marilyn Armstrong

Thursday photo prompt: Stark #writephoto


Often, through the endless winter, Maggie had been sure her garden would never bloom again. As the frozen ground showed no signs of softening in spring sunshine and clumps of dirty brown snow lay on the earth, she would look at the garden and think: “This year, it can’t bloom. Too cold for too long. Too much ice and snow. And I have not been able to work with it, either.”

The overgrown disorder of the last year’s growth was still thatched across the garden. It had rained so much last year they’d been unable to clear it, so it had stayed there, mulching its way through the winter as they mulched with it.

Despite this and her nearly terminal certainty of imminent doom and total destruction, the garden would suddenly return. Everything bloomed at once. Roses and rhododendrons and daylilies and even the daffodils and columbine.

Flowers suddenly bloomed. In some of the worst years when winter had lain on the ground through most of May, those awful, bitter winters? In those years, the garden would bloom all at once with a frantic and wild passion as if it making up for the lost weeks of normal growth, for the dead months when they had been unable to set a single bud.

One day, she would come downstairs and out the gate and gasp at the amazing colors, how the roses had covered the buses like blankets. That the holly was almost a full story tall and even the miniature lilac bushes and thrown a flower or two.

It gave her hope in a world where the sun rarely shined and she prayed only that the well would not be polluted from something poured into the ground, seeping slowly into that fragile layer of underground water.

Their source of life was down there. In her case more than 450 feet down there, one of the deepest wells in the area. Their water had always been clear and ice-cold after it rose from the underlying rocks.

Was this barrenness a forerunner to one more garden? One more summer when the heat didn’t burn the earth to cinders?

She could only watch and wait. Each year was different. One year, it never stopped raining and after a while, the ground felt like a giant sponge, soft and gooey. Then there would be years of drought, leaving all of them wondering if the underground miracle of water would survive.

It was the very early days of the first week in May. In normal years — sometimes called “the old days” — she’d have already seen her early flowers. The garden would have moved on from crocus to daffodil and would now be full of Columbine and the green shoots of daylilies. The old lilac outback would be about to bloom.

Wild garden

But maybe, one more year, the earth would catch its breath and everything would grow again. Maybe the rivers would fill up and somehow, as if they too were seeds waiting to be born, fish would be there and snapping turtle. The geese and the swans and the herons would fish and flocks of ducks would magically float down with the current.

All she could do was wait and never give up hope. the Earth would come back. After all, it always had.

THE FLOWERS I’VE GROWN: CEE’S FUN FOTO CHALLENGE – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Things People Grow


I grow flowers. I don’t do it in any organized way, but somehow, they grow. I grow things in pots — inside and outside. I have a wild rose and daylily garden that suddenly has become a huge rhododendron garden and we have the biggest holly bush I’ve seen.

I’ve got some very old lilacs, a few very young lilacs, astilbe and goat’s beard, a few random daffodils, and crocus. There used to be others, but they didn’t survive. At one point, I had an amazing display of hollyhocks, but one year, they withered and died and I don’t have any idea why.

Pink roses
Spiderwort
Daylilies
Columbine
Wild strawberries
Crocus
Red Roses
Geranium
Daffodils
Red Begonia
Christmas cactus
Orchids
Solomon’s seal
Lilac