No words today, just a few photos from my walk…
No words today, just a few photos from my walk…
The esplanade, the former hell strip, is now a thing of beauty, and this small beauty is good for my soul. I finally finished mulching between all of these hardy perennial plants with cardboard and wood chips. The plants are thriving. The tall Heliopsis is in bright yellow full bloom right now, and the purple hued Spiderwort flowers open each morning. (The Siberian Irises have already completed their flowering.)
Thursday, our first daylily blossomed, and there are more to come. In these days of cruelty to children and destruction of so much that we hold dear, I believe it helps to refresh our spirits with the beauty of the earth. Beauty is strength for the struggle.
Last year, in an attempt to outcompete the crabgrass on the strip between the sidewalk and the street, I transplanted two dozen hardy perennials that were given to us for the digging. (See the prior post for more details on that, and some great “before” pictures.) This spring, most of the transplants were re-emerging with abundance! I love hardy perennials! Time for step two.
I went back over my plant list to see what survived: Day lilies (yellow), Allium (lavender-colored), Goat’s Beard (leafy), Siberian Iris (blue), Turkish Rocket (yellow), Blue Cornflower, Heliopsis (yellow), Anise Hyssop (purple), White Ruffled Iris, Spiderwort (blue), Lady’s Mantle (yellow-green) and Astilbe (purple-pink). The color theme as you may have noticed is blue/violet & yellow, with a few others mixed in, (and several repeated). I still hope to add even more Siberian Irises.
But in the meantime, I filled in a couple empty spots with mystery pots (Siberian Iris and/or Day Lilies), two patches of Thyme taken from an overabundant patch in the orchard, and some Lemon Balm for the tough spot closest to the driveway, still leaving room for our trash and recycling bins. And then, I started laying down cardboard and/or folded newspaper between all the plants, and covering that with wood chips. I’ve just made a small start at one end, but the project can keep going bit by bit. All that hauling of wood chips takes it out of me.
I also made a small bed to try and grow a dozen Lupine flowers from seed. I know–that wasn’t the original plan–to go to all the effort to grow seeds. But when I was down east last weekend, they were selling the seed packets in a little cafe, and it was an impulse buy. Lupines are the queen of Maine wildflowers. So I soaked them overnight (well, two nights actually). I made a little soil bed between some of the other plants: first laying down a very light double layer of newspaper, then some sifted out compost from our pile, mixed with soil. After I planted the seeds, I used straw as a light mulch over the seeds, and filled in the edges with the wood chips. I also put a little fence around it, to protect it from unsuspecting dogs and children who might happen to wander down the sidewalk. I feel happy to look at it. More later.
This spring, I go from “hard work in the garden” days, to “collapse on the couch” days. With so little sun and so much rain, I feel an urgency on those good days to do as much as possible. Monday, for example, I was able to inoculate the orchard with Wine Cap mushroom spawn. That involved shoveling and hauling lots of wood chips from the pile, via a wheelbarrow, over to the trees, laying layers of wood chips in patches near each of the four trees, then spreading the spawn, then more wood chips on top. (This is on top of old wood chips that are already around the trees.) I also put some compost in patches that I had missed last week. I also planted chamomile and sunchokes that I had received in trade at the Plant Swap on Saturday.
Then, after, while I am taking a hot Epson salt bath for my aching muscles, I imagine that I will blog about it the next day–but I just haven’t have the energy for much more than Netflix for two days after any garden work days. So I haven’t blogged about the Fedco tree sale, or about repurposing the garden bed behind the garage for three new blueberry plants, or about spreading seaweed mulch near the trees, or adding compost, or planting kale and more peas. I haven’t blogged about any of it.
Meanwhile, between the work and the collapse, it is easy to miss the ephemeral beauty of it all. The other day, I noticed I was missing something. I stopped to sit on the deck, and then walked around the yard, not working. I just looked at bushes and flowers and ferns, paying attention to what was there, appreciating the miracle of plants and their growth.
I finally sat down again on the deck, and after I had been there awhile, the hummingbirds boldly flew in to drink from our feeders.
It is hard for me to have so little energy this spring. I wish I could do much more in the garden, and not be so exhausted every time afterwards. I guess this is my new reality, this balancing act. But I am reminding myself to appreciate the beauty around me, to notice the color purple on the patio (as Alice Walker might say), to be grateful, and quiet enough for the birds to fly around taking no notice of my presence. To breathe slowly enough for shadows of joy to sneak in.
When we moved to our current neighborhood we were surprised and delighted to find so much natural beauty within walking distance of our home. I felt like a kid again in those first morning walk explorations of the surrounding terrain. I learned that we are nestled between small brooks that feed into Capisic Brook, and that there is a path through the woods between the brook and the Rowe (formerly Hall) school. I learned I could walk into the woods that were part of Evergreen Cemetery, up to the ponds where turtles, frogs, and birds abound.
But one treasure I wouldn’t have found if I hadn’t learned about it first, and then tried to hunt for it. It is quite hidden, except to those who are hiking on the Fore River Trail, which is just beyond my usual strolling adventures. But if you know where to find it, you can also access it off the side streets on the other side of Brighton Avenue. This is Jewell Falls, and I walked there yesterday morning. Can you imagine? A waterfall in my own neighborhood in Portland! The spring snow melt and rain gave it a great flow and the rushing sounds were like music, morning sunlight dancing to its rhythms. Gratitude.
Margy and I watched the New Year sunset at Kettle Cove. It is one of the few beaches we know of on the east coast of Maine, where you can watch the sun set over the water, in winter. (This is because the beach at that point faces southward, and the sun is setting further to the south than in summer–a perfect alignment.) In 2019, I intend to visit the ocean more often. It is so close to us, and yet it is so easy to forget to drive 30 minutes to experience this beauty.
Despite all the hard things that are plaguing our beloved world, may we remember to seek out beauty and joy each day. May we remember color and light and shade and darkness and shine and curve and flow and rhythm.
I seem to be writing on trees these days. This morning, I happened to notice this photo I took a month ago, rainbow colored leaves of the white oak. I want to share it just because it is beautiful. May there be beauty in your life today, and may you have the grace to notice it!