Fall Already?

For the last two weeks, the maple in the back yard has been dropping leaves. It’s accelerating now. Sadly, I can’t see the colors through the greenery below, but the fallen leaves are spectacularly red and yellow this year.

Peak color is two weeks off, by my reckoning, but storms are coming later this week. Saturday was warm, sunny, and breezy – in other words, a perfect autumn day.

Decked out for Fall.

I ran errands in the morning and swung by Marine City, where I spent a couple hours just enjoying the sights. My favorite coffee shop has already started serving pumpkin spice latte (with nondairy creamer!). It was a nice treat made sweeter by meeting an older couple who chatted with me outdoors for a while.

Afterwards, I came home and tore up the garden.

The neighborhood varmints ate half my zucchini. Literally. They ate the bottom half and left the tops to rot on the vine. Imagine reaching to pick a beautiful squash and feeling it squish between your fingers because inside the skin is nothing but rotten mush. Curse you, cute but destructive rodents! I picked whatever was intact, no matter the size or color.

The delicata, a winter squash, had withered from the roots outward, giving no more nourishment. Normally I’d leave them out to harden, but I couldn’t chance the squirrels. The cherry tomatoes were various shades of green, but gardening friends assured me that if I put them in a paper bag and let them sit, they’ll ripen in a few days.

I spent several hours pulling vines, pulling weeds they’d been hiding, and cutting off the remains of flowering plants. Everything was stuffed into three bags for the community compost.

This week I’ll do the more onerous tasks: transplanting flowers, digging up and resetting pavers, and landscaping the now-empty ground around the shed.

Radishes in bloom

Yes, I’m well-aware that before going to seed, garden plants bloom. I battle the rhubarb every year, breaking off five to eight fist-sized blossoms before they can open. And the chives, like other alliums, boast spheres that attract bees.

4C5EDC15-1E4F-4DCB-84C1-80C53296F203

Rhubarb flower

But I had no idea that red radishes have pretty flowers. Looky! Two of the salvaged salad leftovers are going to seed. When I told a real-life gardener, she said the flowers were edible and the seedpods before they get “woody.” But I’m going to enjoy them as they are.

52D0B01A-11F2-407D-BEEE-676D330A6B3B

DIY Writer’s Retreat: Not as Planned

BC2E05B3-094F-4A1C-802D-082D7542AA41

The first zucchini sprouts

Before I planted vegetables (and a melon!) in my garden, I planned. Some plants, like radishes, required containers to prevent ground-pests worming their way in. Others, like squash (and melon!) needed room to sprawl.

Unfortunately, I had forgotten a seed-packet of zucchini which I bought last year.  After I planted it, I had a leftover of a different breed.*  There were no more open,  sunlit spaces with clearance all around… Continue reading

Spring Unfurls

15B7CDD6-E3CD-48D3-82F2-667CA7AA1969

The maple buds began unfurling Saturday morning and reached this stage by midday.

On Saturday, for the first time since the shutdown, I had visitors. A former student and her husband bought a house that has a “blank canvas” landscape. Having daffodils to spare, I dug some up (plus chives, the incongruous grape hyacinth* and yellow crocuses).

I was expecting her in the afternoon. I was NOT expecting her mother nor her sister, both of whom became my dear friends during a school trip to Madrid and Paris.

It was a delightful ambush!

For their part, the youngest girl was surprised to find I lived in that house. She said, “My friends and I used to drive past here on the way to their house, and I always thought it was the cutest little house.”  Sometime post-shutdown, she wants a tour.

Because they are a family of green thumbs, the talk was lively and bounced from topic to topic.** The garden is a work very much in progress, so it was fun to have other eyes notice things both good (radish sprouts) and bad (glass and cement patches left by the shed construction crew).


*aka muscari – thank you, Brenda, for the information.

** At one point, there was a disagreement over how to handle snakes one finds in the garden. One of the girls pulled out her phone to show me a photographic proof that, yes, she knew the correct way to hold a garter snake.

The Volunteer

When I first moved into La Casa de Tontería (aka The House of Nonsense), my parents gave me bulbs from their own garden in the north. Most didn’t make it.

Squirrels dug up and ate some. The bearded iris couldn’t thrive in different soil. My beautiful milk-chocolate tulips grew scraggly and dwindled to one, which disappeared under the transplanted hostas.

The dahlias were a horror story. I wintered them inside as usual, but when I tried to replant them, they were mushy and crawling with white, half-worm, half-millipede things.

And then there are the grape hyacinths. They grew along the wall just outside the front door of my childhood home. Every spring their purple crowns would rise through the blah landscape and their long, narrow leaves curled like ribbon.

They didn’t die off after the move to La Casa de Tontería, but they turned cranky like a relative who refuses to be satisfied with any accommodations. Put them in a garden: meh. Transplant them to a pot: fine, if we must.

I let them go and planted other things, only to discover they love the lawn.

The jerks.

3EA7864B-58B1-4A56-89C5-5A4CA8A7DDBE
ADDENDUM: A former student came to get some of my over-multiplying daffodils and chives. I offered her it and she accepted.

The Garden Beckons…

There is a sinkhole in the backyard, a spot where the previous owners removed a dead oak. I used to pour sand into the holes that formed as the roots rotted beneath the sod.

Later I paid a tree-cutter to take down a gnarly young oak and grind down the stump. Now its subterranean decay creates a natural cistern. Last autumn, I poured out a nearly-full bag of soil into it and spread grass seeds over top.

The grass hasn’t appeared yet, but the nutrient-rich soil brought out dormant crocuses: bright yellow and waxy purple. Even if it snows again, these hardy harbingers of spring are here.

01889924-1CB4-47B0-9A68-F6D2B1029F2F

“I’m back! Spring is here!”

Gardening Temptations

bloom blossom flora flower

NOT the garden of La Casa de Tontería aka The House Of Nonsense. Photo by icon0.com on Pexels.com

Tracking expenses this month, I noticed that Winter has no dampening effect on the gardening bug. During the thaw before New Year’s, I visited Migardener garden store for inspiration (and vegetable seeds), used a Christmas gift card to purchase planting bags, and began reading the bonsai book a friend gave me. I’m waiting on this month’s orders: daikon radish seeds, a paper pot mold, rock-wool, and a sower.

I like to blame peer pressure. Continue reading

My little buddy

I told family members that all summer long I have been very careful to chase a toad out of the way before doing any yard work involving machines. A few years ago, I had two large toads coexisting in the backyard, and they were easy to spot.  But this year’s toad is tiny.

Finally I was able to get a comparison shot to show how small – and this after a summer of growth!

990DC56A-35D7-4101-A768-654D6647D0D9

As I prepared to remove this dandelion, the toad hopped out from hiding.

Coralbell Makes a Comeback

At the beginning of the summer, I transplanted the mismatched variegated  coralbells facing the street to pots in the backyard. They made way for a smaller dark green variation.

Both transplants took a while to become accustomed to their new homes. They quit blooming and focused their energy on leaves. But this past week, the larger one sent up stalks and now the flowers are even lovelier than years past.

15525C95-9D3D-4EBF-994D-CDCF3672BFFE

Oh, deer!

While I was visiting my parents, my mother pointed out the small re-blooming rose I bought her several years ago for Mother’s Day. Last year it bloomed three times, and this year it had FIVE roses in the first round.

The emphasis is on had. Faster than The Old Man could say, “I saw two deer walking alongside the driveway,” the blossoms were gone.

It’s impossible to be mad at animals for being animals, but the roses sure were pretty. I hope they bloom again in short order.