Monthly Archives: July 2015

Confessions of a Lazy Gardener

Green Lady and Hosta

Green Lady and Hosta

This is just a quick confessional update, in which I lay bare the truth about my gardening habits.  In the middle of the summer, no matter what the weather (since I can’t blame the heat this year, there isn’t any), I just don’t get out to do any serious gardening very often.  I do my walkabouts, which are mostly for my own benefit- I don’t think the tranquility of the garden is affected in any way-and I pull out a few weeds, but digging holes etc, seems like far too much work at this point.  My roses are still in their somewhat shady beds, awaiting a lift in my energy level or a more auspicious time.

One thing I did on my walkabout today was to chop off the bleeding hearts near the ground, since they were looking yellow and faded.  To my surprise there was a bonus plant underneath I had totally forgotten about.  It’s a mini variegated grass plant that took my fancy a couple of years ago. I planted it in one of the sunnier spots of my shade bed.  Now that I’ve gotten rid of its main competition (the bleeding heart), perhaps it will hit its stride.  It looks very healthy, just a little small.

Another observation I made in my recent walkabouts is that my Japanese Willow tree seems to be suffering some sort of infestation.  There are dry leaves indicating that there are branches dying back, plus there are some small holes along one of the trunks.  I’m alarmed, since this tree is quite precious to me, although it takes up a lot of space and gets in the way of my clothesline.  I’m going to do some research to find out what could be eating it.

I know what’s eating my sunflowers: the squirrels.

So that’s all I have to report.  The garden still manages to look pretty sweet, despite my neglect.  I promise to mow it in the next couple of days, which will make things look much better with very little effort on my part.

Here’s the tragic and legendary Frank Rosolino with “Pennies from Heaven”.




Drawn by Beauty

A favourite rose of mine, name lost in the mists of time

A favourite rose of mine, name lost in the mists of time

Every day, when I have the time, I take a turn about the garden.  It’s not exactly an acreage so this walkabout takes about five minutes if I walk slowly and examine things minutely.  I like to do it while I’m drinking my coffee in the morning, but I often don’t get to it until later in the day.  I like to check how the plants are faring; are the roses still blooming? Is something eating them? Are the raspberries ripe yet? Is anything suffering that I didn’t notice yesterday? Today, I was intrigued to notice that a bloom is coming up in my “hens and chicks”.  These cosy succulents, that produce baby plants (“chicks”) as offshoots of the mother (“hen”) are  planted in a container my sister made for me.  The container is becoming crowded by bee balm so I don’t always notice what the family is up to.  You don’t have to do much maintenance on them, except to pull out the odd dandelion that manages to squeeze between a hen and her chick.  They produce rather outlandish flowers every once in a while and one seems to be developing.  I’m keen to see it, but  I think the weather has been a bit wet for them and the bloom might not make it.  We’ll see.

A female cardinal and a sparrow, sharing the feeder.

A female cardinal and a sparrow, sharing the feeder.

Mid-summer tends to be a slow point in the gardening calendar (or mine at least).  Some things are doing well but the magnificent spring-flowering bushes and flowers are done, and the late flowers are not yet in bloom.  The different coneflowers, the clematis, day lilies and bee balm are all doing well and they’re the backbone of my mid-summer garden. If it weren’t for those, there would be nothing to look at but my deck planters.  I appreciate these stalwarts but I admit I find them a bit pedestrian.  Everywhere you look you see the same flowers right now.  I guess maybe a new and exciting plant is in order.  However, I don’t want to talk badly about these beautiful flowers behind their backs.  If they decide not to bloom next year I’ll be in trouble.

The walkabout is a chance to allow nature’s beauty to filter in before the day begins.  It calms me down when I’m stressed, so I often do it in the afternoon or early evening as well. There are always changes, though some are subtle. The garden is a place where the inevitable march of time is accentuated, but it doesn’t bother me.  There’s a calming reassurance there that things are progressing as they should.

Here’s a little gem: “Avec le temps” (by Léo Ferré) sung by my daughter, Erica Martin.  Forgive my nepotism, but I really miss her!  It kind of reflects the mood of this gloomy, rainy day, too.

Another Rainy Day

IMG_0654 Okay, it’s been rainy, cold, and… not sunny and warm.  I’ve heard people complain that we haven’t experienced summer yet at all this year in Montreal.  While I understand their pain, sort of, I can’t help being thankful that it’s not blistering hot and there’s no snow on the ground.  For these two things I’m extremely grateful. Also, I love it when it rains because then I don’t have to water the garden.  I love it when it rains because it lends a certain pathetic ennui to everything, and you don’t have to feel guilty about staying inside and knitting; and/or drinking wine as you gaze out onto the wet landscape, or cityscape.  Also, there are all kinds of things you can do inside on a rainy day.  You wouldn’t feel like cleaning out a closet on a beautiful day would you?  So take advantage! Get your life organized.  Get rid of some crap!  As I mentioned in my last post, slimming down my pile of possessions is becoming a priority with me, and the rainy days will help me in my mission. I’m sorry to sound like a Pollyanna here, but it’s true.  (Young folks, this is for you: Pollyanna)

My lovely lilies

My lovely lilies

So, in the brief period  between rain showers today, I went out and hacked away some lilac suckers that have been threatening to take over my shade bed.  I love my shade bed and I don’t intend for the lilac to have its way with it.  Meanwhile, I managed to cut a swath through the ferns, day lilies and hostas, but I’m confident they will fill that alley in shortly.  I’m just glad I got a small amount of exercise today and got a job done that’s been hanging over my head.

My lilac tree is mammoth, and it extends over two properties.  I’ve been reading that one should do a severe pruning of a common lilac every few years, cutting it back to the main trunks in order to keep the shrub (tree?) contained and in good health.  That I haven’t done, but it’s on the list. My sister, Nora, did a pretty good job of pruning our lilac a few years ago, but it’s due for another.

I’m heading to Spain on Friday night, where I’m pretty sure I’ll be experiencing more than enough heat for one summer.  Envy me if you like, but I hate the heat, and I’m a little afraid, frankly.  Dave and I will be in Barcelona for four nights, then in Valencia for four nights, where we will be participating in the International Trombone Festival, geeking out like some real geeks!  I hope it will be fun.  I’ve been to both cities on tour with the OSM, but it’ll be nice to have a little time to actually visit and enjoy.

Here is the legendary (at least in trombone circles) Urbie Green with his group, 21 Trombones, on Stardust, by Hoagy Carmichael.