I was looking outside yesterday thru the haze and soggy air that hung like a
moist curtain of colors, highlighted by drops of rain on leaves, edges of
things, beading up and refusing to budge, capturing the rays of the sun and
reflecting them into tiny mirrors.
The rain had quietly moved in, drenched the ridge, making each plant in my
overgrown perennial fairy gardens look saturated. Each leaf soaked to the
veins. Some of the flowering stalks of plants now incredibly heavy with the
combination of blossom and moisture an additional burden on the stem that
usually houses a blossom and fat bottomed bumbler.
The colors of each leaf in varying hues of green and texture. Spikes of
Crocosmia like thin sword blades. Jutting from the centers of their leaves,
crooked stems that have little tight buds all up to the tips. And some of
those have already blossomed. George Davidson is a deep, bright orange
yellow. The flowers are huge. Then the more reddish orange of the
Montbretia's from Dian in Oregon thinned down dramatically since the deeper
freeze we had last winter. The remaining corms jumped to where they felt
more protected, and are making more corms under the rich soils, even as I
gaze at them, soaked.
The blossoms hold up pretty well, but the red Crocosmia, Lucifer, doesn't.
His blossoms are more closed up and looks like flying red birds. Because
Lucifer is so much taller than the other ones, the rains are weighing the
leaves to fall sideways. This tells me they need gentle hoops of grids to
guide them more upright until they form a mass and colony of them in a few
years up the road.
The patch at the entrance of the overgrown woods room have all leaned
northwards. Like red birds in masses on the tips of all those stems,
leaning from height, with moisture from all the rains,from winds using the
height of the plants which is almost five foot to finally lay them
northward-- and not paying attention to their fast spring growth, I
neglected to provide them with adequate support.
You see them not only because they're screaming RED, but because of the
amount of blossoms that are cranking out despite their proneness. Makes you
want to run down that steep slope and grab them all up and TIE them to
something to get the magnificence of how tall these things really
are.........sigh. But like a spacey earth cadet, I have let them do their
growing unhindered and sporatically checked on, while being distracted with
the other seven beds up above these last two.
From running like a lunatic down to these red blossoms, I trudge up the now
slippery pathway that is barely there. The ?? grass like weed that is
intent on conquering my slope is everywhere. My mower long deceased, it will
take hand ripping or garden raking to remove it. Again.
Everywhere things are just bursting with growth from the spring and summer
outside. Surprises everywhere. I have a Euphorbia (I have many, some
tender and spiney, needing winter repose inside, others of a hitchhiking
from a digging of Mary Emma's in years past. If you dug up clumps of her
perennial's, you hazarded a deffinate chance of getting not only the
perennial that had grown to such huge and healthy proportions, but you also
probably got a reseeder, some bulbs and a volunteer.
I got this Euphorbia which is hardy for us here, from her. It's nicknamed
the Poinsettia Euphorbia. The leaves are shaped like a Poinsettia leaf,
it's very green and dark like the Poinsettia, and when the little miniscule
flowers start forming in the centers, the inside of each leaf starts to turn
an orange red, making it look even more like a Poinsettia leaf.
I have it growing from a crack in front of the downstairs door that leads to
the laundry/den/computer cave and pathway up the stairs to the main house.
I keep wanting to pull it out and transplant it somewhere else, but have
left it to slug it out with oldest son who steps outside frequently. I
figure it will survive and reseed somewhere else for next year.
But upstairs on the deck that is off the kitchen and faces west the
narrowness doesn't hinder me from overloading the walking space, the
railings, anything I can with pots of various plantings. Hosta's that
benefit from the shelter of the young maple I'm trying to encourage to go on
and grow past the roof so I can keep it there to mature into a decent tree
to replace the Pawlonia with.
Lots of healthy, lush growth in almost every pot on the deck. Last year's
plants were busy being sown with seeds from the previous year's growth and
some had quietly ridden inside in the soil of the cacti and succulents,
others had been sheltered under other perennials in the experimental
windowboxes of last year.
In the "chicken, peace rock" garden, and in another fiberglass pot that
looks like a cement planter, also planted in sedums and some hens and
chicks, last year's portulaca I had tucked into spots, had died back to the
pea gravel I mulched these gardens with (that Micki taught me to ensure
return of these sempervivums)spent a winter all hunkered down sheltered by
hens and chicks, little rocks and exposed to western winter suns, and
northern breezes. Now SURPRISE! Reseeded portulaca's in colors I have no
idea yet, but are budding.
Kalanchole under the old steel BBQ sitting on the steel plate has recovered
itself, had died back to stumps and pitiful leaves edged in brown from the
dry air. I see little stems with tiny buddlets on them rising from the
protective folds of the lush new succulent growth.
There are pots of hosta's in varying textures and colorations. I'm babying
these new hosta's their first year to grow in rich, amended compost. I'm
learning the fine art of soil tweeking. A little Ironite, some compost
which is already black and rich, a little greensand, some peat moss mixed in
to bulk it up a little bit. June Fever, a yellow leafed sport. Paul's
Glory, Guacamole, Patriot from a root a dear friend sent me, an unnamed
sport from Sagae which I hope wow's me when it's three.
I glanced over towards the western yard, more lit now because two Pawlonia
limbs had to be removed after all the moisture and rains were the undoing of
the new growth from the water soaked pods. Every huge foxglove like blossom
that quietly bloomed this summer, set seed and now each branch end has huge
grape like bunches of these pointy green pods. I went out the other day
only to notice that the Vitex bush (Chaste tree) that was in full bloom, was
looking "odd". It was because the Pawlonia had broken a couple of major
limbs, but the skin of the limb was keeping it attached to the rest of the
branch and it was lying on top of the Vitex's branches, bending them, but
not breaking them.
I had carefully moved the branches over and let the Vitex slowly straighten
itself out. I might have to rope it tight to cinch it up and give it
strength if the rains continue. But after I called the electric guys out to
cut the branch, this time when they arrived, they brought the truck with the
bucket, (unable to get into my side yard because of all the ornamental
shrubs and raised boxes) AND the chipper! They cut the branches off closely
to the tree, and then dragged all the limbs and threw them into the chipper.
Now there's more southwestern sunlight and it reminds me that I eventually
will have to remove most of the branches of this old tree.
Now with the area more lighted I see the fig tree is loaded with figs, the
branches are reaching at least sixteen feet upwards, and barely, thru the
large lobed leaves and figs and branches, I see a flash of pink. One of
Zhan's pink flamingo's she brought me two years ago when she came up and
visited. The one residing in the tree is looking downwards from it's perch
in the crotch of the many branched fig trunk. The supporting dowel that
normally holds it upright in a garden long rotted away, I decided it was too
neat and large to replace the dowel for the moment, and out of desperation,
had placed it in the fig tree. It resides there still.
You don't quite realize there IS a pink flamingo in the fig tree unless you
duck thru the entrance of the western yard, under the boughs of the trumpet
vine, past the forsythia bush, under the branches of the fig and almost
collide with a stone like bird bath that blocks your path a bit between the
Everywhere there are signs of twisted crayons. A lot of the petals coming
out from their protective calyxis' look like twisted crayons. I've seen
this before, but right now they're really noticable. Pinkish purple, my
beloved "pirkle" phlox I saved near where an old house had been removed
along highway 25-70 has rebounded from lifting, shoving in a trash can,
potted up, divided and plopped into any hole I could find.
Each little bud is twisted up like a purple lipstick, the outer edges of the
petals lined in a darker purple, showing the twist in the emerging blossom.
The compostite flowers fold their petals over the central cones, and spring
open after a soaking rain like this one. The white Becky daisy I plunked
into the sidewalk bed is starting to show signs of settling in. I can't
assume anything. Time and next year's return will tell me if the new plant
for that spot is acceptable. I hope so. The white breaks up the green so
well, and if this plant survives, it will mingle with the hot oranges of the
The color combinations are amazing. Deep orange with magenta throats,
startling white with buttery yellow eyes, Shouting yellow drooping petals
with green eyes, orange bells on the Crocosmia, Bruce daylily which has a
deep red petal and a soft yellow orange throat that compliments and picks up
on the Crocosmia and Quanzo daylily. Then there's the silliness of the
Jester like Monarda's that have a yellow orange George Davidson crocosmia
against it, and a purple monarda that is blooming next to the soft fuzzy
slipper catapillar like blossoms of the Korean spirea that are blooming
again since I pinched off the spent flower ends.
Raspberry pink flowers again on the Crispa spirea, and near them, a stray
clean pink blossom of a hardy reseeded Geranium that Mary Emma had grown
from seed years ago. Looking thru the tangle of the Loosestrife that is
being munched by Japanese beetles, and the fleshy leaves of the 4 o'clocks,
I see little dots of pink from the Columbine leafed meadow rue.
The new salvia isn't blue like the Blue Egnima, which has slashes of blue
flowers all over it, but is a royal purple that I can hardly contain myself
as I hope it establishes like the blue one and fills out under the boughs of
the Korean spirea.
Color pops everywhere. The only color I'm missing out of the crayon box is
black. Had the black stemmed daisy that Dian had sent me a few years ago
survived, I'd have that. But seven of the eight colors aren't bad.
When you look thru the screen in the bedroom towards the driveway, you see
them all. And now the air is heavy with the first rich fragrances of the
Harlequin Glory bower stars. As you stand at the rounded wall, what you
smell and what you see are totally different. The flowers are hidden from
you above your head. But your eyes are drawn by the pink lips of the first
early blossoms from the perennial begonia's.
With all this rain, and moisture and fogs and humidity, the begonia's are
thriving like never before. Lush and almost jungle like, they're tromping
down the slope from underneath the black cherry tree.
Goofy looking Cat's Whiskers (Cleome) are bobbing amongst the pirkle Phlox,
the pink and soft pinkish white picked up and complimented by the pinkish
purple. Jutting thru the middle of the foliage of all this, a couple of
white butterfly bush flowers, and foaming near the knees of the phlox,
yellow corydalis which has bloomed now for months. I'm still in shock that
it's bloomed so much and for so long. The little yellow britches are so
neat, and the foliage is holding strong. With all the secret flyers, I'm
sure I'll find little seedlings next year like I do the columbine.
My tangient thoughts return to the discovered treasures of sowings of the
corydalis from last year in unexpected places. One in the washed soils from
up above that settled at the feet of the wall where the original plant
bloomed last year, draping over the wall and dropping tiny little seeds
which in turn were tended by loving fairy hands until I spotted the
unmistakable leaves of this corydalis shining up at me when I had to
relocate the pink butterfly bush when youngest son started building the nook
All along the wall, are four plants. All reseeded from the original, so it
must really like it where it's at.
There are so many moments of peek in these chaotic gardens. Everytime I
think of changing it dramatically,it shows me that it works like it is at
the moment. I can tweek it a little bit, add a new perennial in a spot and
hope it adapts to the clustered and claustrophobic gardens, but other than
removal of vinca, and the unwanted flopping 4's that spring up intent on
leveling any unwairy perennial to the ground with it's heavy, succulent
leaves and stems, it works.
Pots of quaking oat grass with a volunteer purple loosestrife, broken pots
planted in moonlight sedum with reseeded wild white daisies in the corner of
the crack and a blue clips campanula. A pot of asters and black eyed susans
with strands of dianthus and a stubborn carnation wad.
Daylilies that are finished, the Siloam Little Fairy finally finished and
there are just a few soft sherbert pinkish orange blossoms left on the clump
beside the driveway at the corner of the sidewalk.
Behind the house, the double althea's are all flaunting petticoats for fairy
balls to be slipped on. Double purple ones with deep maroon throats, softer
pinkish gathers with maroon eyes, a Peptol pink skirt with deep rose pink
eye, and an old fashioned white skirt with deep pink eye and shades of
purple mingled with it.
Beneath these, Ajuga is spreading the bronze green leaves, and the Sum and
Substance is girthing up.
One of the things I'm discovering is the compatability of some plants to
multiple places. And Hosta's seem to be very resilient with exception to
plantings in pots, and I've just not found the perfect container yet for a
small leafed one, is all <g>.
The evening is drawing closed, the lights are now fading on the brighter
flowers. The tones of reds and oranges are more somber, and the white
daisies beside the sidewalk are more prominant. The evening hummers are
supping from the blue chalices before bedding down in their tiny nests.
The wren who has made herself a nursery nest in the little blue window box
that is hanging on an old window hanging shelf unit is sitting on her four
perfect little eggs waiting for her fledglings to hatch. Her little striped
face with the little beady eyes peer up at me, hoping I don't make her flee
her charges. I put the weedwhacker back on the hook and go quickly so as
not to spook her. I want her to know this is a safe place for now. She'll
have to move her babies once they get hatched and fledge. Dropping to the
dogrun sidewalk would be detrimental for them, as Piquito is a voracious
But the position of the nest is right behind all these flowers and seeding
Heavy Metal grass and Quaking Oat grass and all those Japanese beetles and
tasty catapillars for her to snap up. I've watched her from my window in
the early morning. She stretches out, and flutters into the foliage which
is like her own personal jungle and snatches up cabbage butterflies and
other morsels and then flitters back to sit again on her eggs.
The chunk of moon is lighting up the sky for the first time in nights.
There's been so much rain, all there has been is just soft grayish black.
Tonight there are actually signs of stars and a planet shining out from the
tapestry. The visual scented by Glory Bower flowers, some honeysuckle and
backed in loud throbbing choruses of the cicada's and tree frogs. Loud
enough to cut thru the open window, but enough to encourage me to open it a
sliver to let in the sounds at night.
Thanks for allowing me to share this with you.
Madgardener up on the noisy ridge, back in Fairy Holler, overlooking English
Mountain in EAstern Tennessee, zone 7, Sunset zone 36