THE THREE SEASON YEAR – Marilyn Armstrong

We don’t get four seasons. We get three. Summer — hot, sticky, and buggy, but at least it’s warm. Okay, a lot of humidity, but you have to take the good with the bad.

I had been hoping we’d more Autumn, and we did. It was short — just about a week — but glorious for that week. Which is good because it’s only the first week in November and they are predicting snow. I don’t think we’ll get any here, but it would not be a surprise. I can remember many years when it snowed before Thanksgiving and stayed snowy until Summer showed up.

Sometimes we get a second Autumn in November that lasts until after Christmas. Last year, it lasted until March, at which point we had three blizzards in a row. The snow hung around until the trees began to bloom after which we got two months of heavy rains and wind. No climate change here!

Last week it was pretty warm, but right now, it’s cold. Very cold.

House in summer

Summer by the Blackstone

Autumn by the river and canal

Now those are Autumn specials! – Photo: Garry Armstrong

Photo: Garry Armstrong –Winter at home

Junco atop the Toad

No pictures of spring because that’s a season we don’t really get. It’s winter, then summer. We always HOPE for spring, though. Even though we know it isn’t happening, we figure maybe one year it will.

You never know, right?

LEARNING TO GROW THINGS – Marilyn Armstrong

I started to grow plants because my friend Mary was a crazed grower of potted plants. She lived in Brooklyn. Park Slope at the time.

These years, she has a house out on Staten Island. We haven’t seen each other in a really long time. Not since right after I got back from Israel — which was August 1987.

She was the first person to encourage me to grow things. I’d really never tried. But she gave me some of the cuttings from her plants. Told me to put them in a sunny window and water them when they got dry. They did very well and soon, all I wanted to do was haunt nurseries.

She taught me how to examine a plant, make sure it didn’t have any diseases or insect invasions.

Somewhere in the course of my conversion from non-growing to a wild-eyed enthusiast, basically converted the first floor of a really big house into a giant nursery. No curtains. Plants hung from the ceiling, lived on glass shelving. I put metal trays with gravel and water in the trays so when the radiators came up, they created a nice mist for the plants to live in.

They thrived. I was also the editor of the Doubleday Garden Guild. Because I’m me, I read all of the books we published, so whatever I hadn’t gotten from Mary, I learned from reading hundreds of books about growing plants. Indoors and outside.

I never took to outdoor gardening the way I did to indoor pottery gardens. For one thing, even way back then I’d already had major surgery on my spine and although I was a lot more limber than I am now, a lot of bending more or less did me in, even then. I left the outdoor gardening to husband and son.

So when I tell you that all you need to grow plants indoors is decent light and go easy with the watering can, maybe I’m understating where I learned what I learned. Mostly, it came from Mary and other friends who grew plants. We traded cuttings, sometimes passed off our huge plants for smaller ones.

My ceilings were only 10 feet high on the ground floor and once a plant started trying to dig through to the upper story, it had to move on. Which is why, now, I have a small but a good-size Norfolk Island pine in exchange for a Dracaena Marginata I had been growing for almost 20 years. It got too tall. In the wild, a Norfolk Island pine will grow hundreds of feet tall, but in this house, 7 foot 6 inches is as tall as it can get before it moves to another house.

I don’t have the volume of plants I did. Having an entire house full of plants became a job — at least an hour or two every night going from plant to plant, pulling off dead leaves, turning plants so they would grow evenly. And how many times did I fill the watering can before I finished with all 6 ground floor rooms? It was a big house with tall windows.

Today we were passing a house on our way to River Bend and there was a little house that had the most lovely garden I’ve seen in years. All the white picket fences were lined with sunflowers and a rather wild, yet obviously well-tended crop of bright flowers surrounded the front of the house.

I took pictures. It was just the way I’d make my garden if my spine would let me.

NEW ENGLAND GARDENS – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Gardens

The gardens of New England are a bit tired as we go into August. Most of my flowers are early summer flowers. They used to bloom in May and June, but recently they bloom in late June and July. Right now, it just looks awful! The Daylilies are gone, the roses are pretty, but there aren’t a lot of them.

And in the water …

LITTLE WHITE ASTERS – Marilyn Armstrong

Little White Asters – FOTD – July 6, 2019

Amidst the myriad tall green and orange Daylilies, the asters continue to grow. Taller than they usually stand, they have spread out all around the garden.

It’s a nice touch, those delicate little white flowers in the breaks between the tall daylilies, some of which have reached at least my height and a few are taller.

Tomorrow, it will rain, but Sunday I can get back to the garden and see what is growing!

Asters growing amidst the daylilies

More asters

MOVEMENT AND MOTION – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Movement

Yesterday, it was warm, bright, sunny and just a little bit humid. I was under the impression it was Thursday, but I woke up today and realized today is Saturday. The rain I thought was at least 24-hours away is already closing in.

Just yesterday, all bud and no daylilies.

It was sunny when I first woke up this morning. I saw no reason to get up at six in the morning, so I went back to bed and when I got up, the sun was gone. The sky was gray. The weather had moved on. But I looked out my kitchen window and I saw a bright daylily.

I was sure they would start to bloom soon. I thought they would bloom yesterday. Instead, they waited for today, so before I even got my coffee, I took myself outside to get some pictures. I think later it will rain and since it’s supposed to rain tomorrow, too … well … today was my picture day.

Still more buds than flowers, but a very quick movement

Movement. Amazing the changes that can take place overnight. I’ve lived through a warm spring day and woken to a blizzard. I’ve watched the sun blaze all morning, watched the movement of the clouds as they cover the sky and the sun disappears. Then heard and seen the first fat drops fall on the deck. A complete movement of the weather, sometimes in as little as half an hour from bright summer day to gloomy grey and rain.

At least the flowers went — overnight — from buds to blossoms. More flowers are still in bud than are in bloom, but still, it’s a big change. Next week should be even better.

I’m counting on it.

WILD ASTERS IN MY GARDEN – Marilyn Armstrong

Wild Asters – FOTD – June 25, 2019

The garden is full of buds but not full of blossoms.

The only thing in bloom are a few wildflowers. They seem to have popped up from nowhere, at least they are blooming, which is more than I can say for any of the flowers.

If the rest of the week is not entirely rainy, we will have flowers and a lot of them at that. Meanwhile, here are the little wild asters. I have always been very fond of them.

Dainty, sweet little flowers.

Wild Asters

More wild asters