SOLOMON’S SEAL – WILD IN MY GARDEN – Marilyn Armstrong

Solomon’s Seal – FOTD – 05/20/19

Our Solomon’s Seal plants originally grew in our woods. I moved about half a dozen plants about half a dozen feet into the light. It now grows in huge batches along the driveway. It blooms early and is my official “sign of spring.”

It is a wildflower that has been cultivated so now, you can buy rhizomes for it at nurseries. If you have a garden that doesn’t have much sun, these are plants that will give you your first blooms when nothing else wants to flower, a shady garden requirement.

Very few plants will flower in deep shade, but Solomon’s Seal will. It will also blossom beautifully if you give it a little bit of sunlight.

It seems to appear overnight. One day there’s nothing. A couple of days later, there’s a huge patch of Solomon’s Seal.

It’s a tall plant, often growing a couple of feet high. Also, it is rather “architectural” with high, arching branches and small, white bell-shaped blossoms dangling below them. The foliage turns a golden yellow color in fall.

The green-leaved specimen is native to the New England and it used to be rather rare, but has been cultivated so if you don’t happen to have your own woods, you can buy them at a nursery.

You can find Solomon’s Seal growing in wooded areas of Hardiness Zones 3-7. We about half a dozen plants about six feet where they have thrived. They are much bigger than they grew in the woods and there are more of them. All of them have arches of flowers.

During a brighter spring, they sometimes take over that whole area … and they are still plentiful in the woods, along with three or four types of fern.

DEALING WITH STRESS? – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s Provocative Question #23

How To Deal With Stress 101

And now, it’s mostly legal!

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.

OILING DOWN THE ANGRY – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Oil on the water

Oil is supposed to settle down rapidly boiling water.

It doesn’t.

The water keeps boiling at the same level only there’s oil on it. Patches of oil. In my house, oil is olive (usually) but out in the Real World, ocean water glistens with oil meant to run trucks, cars, and heat homes. A good thing insofar as it was warm a few days ago, so I turned down the thermostat … and now, it’s cold.

Not bitterly, miserably dead-winter cold. No, it’s wet and gets into your bones. It feels a lot colder than it is.

Garry and I have been trying to figure out if we are suffering from the pollen (it’s high) and it’s from trees. We’ve got trees). That or one of us made unintentional contact with a sick person.

Garry pointed out to me since I had (recently) pointed the same thing to him (recently), that it doesn’t matter if it’s a cold or allergies. You feel equally crappy regardless.


NOTE: Anyone who says “Oh, it’s JUST allergies,” has never had allergies. An allergy is a cold that only ends when the snow falls. If you get sick and feel better three days later, you were sick. If you feel like crap but are still feeling awful three months later when the trees are turning, it was an allergy.


It’s probably the best part of winter that unless I actually get sick, which I do very rarely now (I think I had everything when I was younger and am now resistant to everything), I stop sneezing until spring comes again. In case no one noticed, it IS (technically) spring. I know this because during the two sunny days this month, I took pictures of our bunch of daffodils.

Since we are apparently allergic to everything and we live in pollen central, we suffer. Even the dogs suffer. Our dogs have sneezing fits. To be fair, our pollen is so bad that sometimes — about a week from now is my best guess, assuming it stops raining by then — the air looks like it’s snowing, except the snow is green. Everything turns green. The car is covered in green pollen.

Goldfinch flock – Sneezing?

Do the birds sneeze? That could really ruin the hawks hunting time. And if the little birds sneeze, it could make it hard for them to hide in the branches. But if ALL of them sneeze …

“The wood would resound with the sound of sneezing …”

I have sneezing fits. Sometimes I just keep sneezing for so long I forget when I started. It makes Garry’s hearing implements go crazy, so eventually, he has to cover his ears. If I get loud enough, he has to leave the room. I am a hearty sneezer.

Back to the oil. If oil theoretically makes boiling water settle down (I think it just pollutes it), maybe we should pour oil on each other. We could then be sick and slimy simultaneously. The dogs would love it and would lick every inch of us.

Yummy olive oil! We could stick salad to our arms and legs and be really green. I could wear a tomato hat and Garry could arm himself with huge cucumbers.

I think I’m losing it.

All I want are THREE SUNNY DAYS so I can clean out the garden. Is that too much to ask?

HOW CAN YOU GET SPRING FEVER IF SPRING HAS NOT SPRUNG? – Marilyn Armstrong

Weekly Word Prompt: Spring Fever

I don’t have even a hint of spring fever unless you count a deep yearning to see a flower bloom and have the temperature rise regularly about 60 degrees. But spring isn’t much of a season in New England and every year, we hope we’ll get a “real” spring … and we don’t. It’s something about winds and ocean and rivers and rocks.

Birds not of a feather

Living in New York, which is just 240 miles south of here, we got a real spring. By this time of year, we had magnolias and crab apple blossoms and the daffodils were up and the grass was green. You wouldn’t think a mere 4 or 5-hour drive could make such a difference in climate, but it does.

Two Goldfinch

The closest vision to spring I’ve had is watching the birds change from their winter colors to their breeding colors. The dull greenish-yellow Goldfinch are brilliant yellow and even the brightest birds of winter are brighter now. Otherwise, though, we have some green shoots coming up from the ground, but other than a few crocuses, that’s pretty much it. No leaves, no flowers. No green grass.

A pair of Goldfinch – Two boys this time

We do, however, have ticks. And ants. They know it’s spring, even if the rest of New England still thinks it might yet return to winter. I think we are past that, however. It isn’t warm, but the really deep cold is gone. Now, it’s just muddy and chilly. And, I need to remind myself, by a few weeks from now, summer will show up overnight.

Our spring is usually one afternoon in early May. The next day, it’s 85 degrees. Flowers are blooming like mad and all the trees are in full leaf. Sometimes, this rollover into summer happens in a few hours. We go grocery shopping and by the time we are on our way home, everything is blooming.

I’ve lived up this way for more than 30 years and I’ve never gotten used to the suddenness of the seasons. Autumn was like that too, until recently with climate changing. It would be summer and the next day, it looked like every tree had been lit from within.

For the past few years, we’ve barely had any autumn at all. I’m used to missing spring, but fall has always been my favorite season, especially in New England … and having it disappear is very sad.

Maybe it will come back this year.

FINALLY, FLOWERS – Marilyn Armstrong

Crocuses- FOTD – 04/02/2019

I thought the crocuses had bloomed and died under the snow, but I was wrong. When we went out today, there was also a batch of beautiful dark purple crocuses.

No yellow ones this year, but I was glad enough to find anything green and growing … or, in this case, purple and growing.

Even better, the daylilies are pushing up through the soil.

Clearly, I need a garden cleanup and as soon as there’s less mud …

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