Six on Saturday – June 30, 2018 Ditch Lilies Mean Summer Is Here

Summer is here. We are hot and dry. The first six cubic yards of mulch has been put down. I promptly ordered another six yards. I don’t mulch every year and I want this effort to last for awhile. We’ll take our time spreading it in the cool early morning hours. The front of the house looks dressed up now.

Lots of things are blooming now in the garden and it’s hard to choose just six. I noticed some deer damage on a couple of hostas and sprayed Deer-Away. The squirrels are busy digging up my tulip bulbs. They really went to town after I put down the mulch. Why is that?  I wonder if I will have any tulips next spring.

I am not seeing many bees in the garden. That has me worried. The first two cukes were picked two days ago and we’ve started eating beans from the garden. The sugar snap peas haven’t produced well this year and will get pulled soon to make room for another crop of something.

Here are my Six on Saturday.

  1. I always called these common orange day lilies Ditch Lilies because they filled the ditches along the sides of the roads in the rolling hills of Maryland (on the western side of the Chesapeake Bay) where I used to live. When I googled Ditch Lily it seems that is one of the names they are known by so I have to get over thinking I made that up. On a walk one day I saw a double so I dug it up and brought it home where it thrived. When we moved I carried some of the tuberous roots with me and now have a whole section blooming near Shasta daisies in some very inhospitable soil. When the ditch lilies bloom I know summer is here.

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2. This Raspberry Wine monarda was brought from a reading garden I helped install at our local library. (Those of us who weed that garden feel entitled to bring home extras.) It is a lovely berry red and the bumbles like it. It grows about 4 feet tall but is prone to mildew. Behind the monarda are elephant ear leaves from tubers I left in the ground last winter. These are the leaves that I made cement castings from last summer. Leaving them in the ground was an experiment. Now I know I don’t have to dig and store the roots over the winter.

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3. In the front of the house the cleome have been thinned and mulched and are beginning to bloom. It will grow 24 – 36″ tall and blooms all summer. The tallest can be cut back and will send out blooming side shoots. I’ve mulched very heavily so I’m wondering if this will inhibit the cleome’s self-seeding. I need to edge the beds, but that may or may not get done. Getting mulch down before the hottest summer weather was the priority. I understand commercial landscapers have a motorized tool for edging. Maybe I can find one at a tool rental company. It would look more finished if it was edged.

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4. A seating area overlooking the azaleas is ringed with a small hosta that has lovely purple flowers. It spreads even in this dry area of my garden which only gets occasional watering. Surprisingly I have seen little slug damage to my hostas this year. Maybe those ashes from the fireplace (that Fred, the French gardener, suggested) helped.

The white blooms are on a variagated leaf hosta. I just had to include the lovely photo. It makes me want to be a painter. Maybe in my next life…

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5. Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is native to our area. I have several clumps that the Monarchs will soon be visiting.

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6.  Northern Sea Oats can easily become invasive. I am very careful to cut the seed stalks back before they ripen and fall, but I’m considering removing them because it’s another gardening chore I have to remember to do. I certainly do love they way they wave in the breeze and they are lovely in flower arrangements.

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That’s my Six on Saturday for this week. The meme was started by The Propogator, a UK gardener. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.

 

 

Write on Wednesday: Is Writing My Passion?

There is alot of foot traffic in my neighborhood early in the morning. Runners, parents with strollers and lots of walkers, many with their dogs. I was out in the driveway on Saturday morning loading wheelbarrows of mulch to dress my garden beds and several people stopped to tell me how much they enjoy watching my gardens change through the seasons. Three people actually told me that gardening must be my passion.

That made me stop and think. I’m a writer. Shouldn’t that be my passion?

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I googled passion in one’s life and here’s what I got. “Knowing your passion in life gives you something to build the rest of your life around. Your passion can be anything that simultaneously challenges you, intrigues you and motivates you. Contrary to the idea that doing what you love makes work effortless, a passion puts you to work.”

Do I only get one passion? And how is passion related to self-identity?

Identity is multi-faceted and mine has evolved over the years. I do know one thing about myself. I’ve always loved learning. Part of my identity is being a student.When I was a young mother, my focus was on my children. A large part of my identity was Mother. When my children were in high school, I went back to graduate school and started working for a paycheck. Four kids in college at the same time was a daunting prospect for my husband and me. We had to plan for that. My work identity became Social Worker. When I retired I had an identity crisis for about two weeks so apparently being a Social Worker wasn’t drilled into my soul.

Is my passion writing or gardening? Certainly gardening is more visible. People driving by our house can see what I’ve accomplished. My body of writing work is not very visible, has not made me wealthy and the hard work of writing doesn’t result in people stopping me in my driveway to deliver compliments.

Writing is important to me. It’s an outlet for creativity and in my life I’ve realized that I get a little crazy when I don’t have some creative outlet. But creativity doesn’t have to be writing. It can be cooking or gardening, or an art project. Writing is not the most important thing in my life, and I suspect that’s heresy in some writing circles. It’s the creative part of writing that makes me boot up my computer. 

Since I am a Gemini I’m going to choose two passions. Creativity and learning. For me they go hand in hand and can be applied to both gardening and writing and any other thing my squirrel brain sees that looks interesting.

 

 

 

 

Six on Saturday – June 23, 2018

  1. I begin with one of my concrete leaf castings in an elevated box hanging on a fence. I like the color with the nasturtium blooms and the soft yellows on the weathered fence. I planted seeds of ‘Peach Melba’ in the box in the early spring. I suspect bought this variety because of the name. I never pass on dessert.

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2.  Verbena Boniarensis is the tall purple flower. I started out five years ago with one plant leftover from the Woman’s Club annual plant sale. Now it is seeding all over the garden, living up to its reputation as invasive. The blooming lily is one someone gave me.  Only two blooming stalks survived the rabbits this spring. The small pops of red are Rose Campion (Lychnis coronaria).

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3. The day lilies are starting to bloom. I love the green throat on this one. Garden porn.

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4. Another day lily that appears darker in reality. It’s prettier in the photo than in real life. I like the lighter colored lilies so a large patch of this may be relegated to the compost.

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5. This clematis (on a trellis that obviously did not get scrubbed with bleach this spring) is Arabella. It bloomed all last summer and twined into the Limelight hydrangea on the other side of the lattice. A very happy combination. I just found the plastic tag that came with this clematis and its claim that it blooms June through September were accurate.

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6. While cleaning the garage this spring I found some white sweet potatoes that I bought last fall. We didn’t like them so much so there were still quite a few in the cardboard box. I threw them in the compost but they seem determined to survive, and are no doubt growing white sweet potatoes in the compost bin. I may leave them to freeze over the winter. We much prefer the orange variety. Observe the very healthy maple seedlings at the bottom of the photo. I took the photo and them pulled them out.

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That’s my Six on Saturday for this week. The meme was started by The Propogator, a UK gardener. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.

Write on Wednesday: “Aha” moments

As a former therapist I can tell you the “aha” moments in therapy are relatively easy. It’s changing beliefs and behaviors after the “aha” that’s the hard work.

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Writing is not so different. You start out with an idea. If you’re lucky you may know where the story begins and where it ends. My fiction writing always seems to have “aha” moments in which a character realizes something important. This is usually the beginning of a conflict for the character that will then be played out until a resolution is reached. It’s my job, as writer, to get the character to implement the “aha” realization into their everyday lives. And I have to make that interesting or my reader will put down the book.

But the kicker is that the “aha” moment is often something I didn’t plan on. It just showed up. And I may not know until the end of the book why it happened. In the novel I’m working on a main character gets a specific tattoo on her leg. I didn’t know why. It just wanted to be there.

It wasn’t until I was at the end of the book that I realized there was a reason for that tattoo. Once I knew the reason, I had to go back to into the middle and write scenes that supported the ending. It’s a giant puzzle and sometimes the pieces almost fit…but not quite. I’m still working on it. Getting it perfect is what I’m after.

Damn. Could it be that my own need for perfection is not totally sorted out. It is in most areas of my life, but I want my writing to be as good as I can make it. That doesn’t sound like perfection, so why does it feel like that’s the goal?

 

 

 

Six on Saturday: June 16, 2018 – still too much to do…

The to-do list keeps growing, but the good news is that the gardens have dried out enough to be able to do some work. I’m realizing that while sharing my gardens with other Six on Saturday gardeners, the real benefit is for me. The photos, often close-ups, make me stop and  take the time to look more closely at my plants. I see things I would otherwise miss.

  1. A friend gave me some  hydrangea stems. These are a week old. The trick is to dip the cut stems in alum before putting them in the water. They last much longer. Alum is used in canning and can be found in the spice section of your grocery store.

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2.  Three years ago I bought a package deal of six different clematis. This vine struggled and bloomed for the first time this year. I think it is Pink Mink. The bird netting behind it was an idea a took from another Six on Saturday posting. I stapled it to the fence to give the vine something to climb on when they overreached the trellis.

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3.  My Jackmani clematis has moved with me three times in the last fifty years.  It is glorious this year. This is the backside of the latice — right by one of my compost bins. Maybe that’s why this vine is so happy. The front of the lattice, which I see from the house, looks good too, but the backside is even better.IMG_6533

4.  Tomatoes in pots are blooming and the Sungold has small fruits. The blue tarp in the background covers 6 cubic yards of mulch yet to be spread. Currently the gardens remind me of my children’s bedrooms when they were kids. Dirty laundry on the floor and beds unmade. The gardens will finally look dressed when the mulching is done, but there still is weeding to do before that happens. I wanted to get mulch before the local landscaping supplier ran out. I like “pine fines” but can’t get it anymore. This mulch is triple shredded hardwood. I mulch beds every two to three years with perhaps a line of mulch along the edges in the more visible areas in the off years. We always seem to have piles of something in our drive. The neighbors don’t complain. They know they are welcome to wander in the garden.

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5.  The shasta daisies are getting ready to bloom. This is the first one this summer. When we moved to this house there was one clump. Over the last twelve years they have been divided and moved multiple times and survive in very inhospitable conditions. This clump is in partial shade and never gets watered or fertilized, but the white punches needed drama into the shade.

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6. Daylilies are starting to bloom. I was going to post a photo of the Stella d’Oros but this photo was too lovely not to share. I have no idea of the variety or where it came from. I doubt I bought it.

 

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I hope you’ve enjoyed my Six on Saturday for this week. The meme was started by The Propogator, a UK gardener. It’s a great place for new ideas.  This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.

Write on Wednesday: Keep the Headlights On

At one of my Working Writers Forum group, one of our members brought in this quote. “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”  — E. L. Doctorow

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I thought about that again this week. I am now polishing and rearranging scenes so the time line works in the first draft of the third novel in my Caribbean romantic suspense series. The novel takes place in the summer of 2004 on the island of St. Lucia in the Windward Islands of the Caribbean. There is a beginning date and an end date.

Things were getting a little foggy so I googled a calendar for that year. I was also able to find out when the full moons happened. I had put full moons in several of the scenes and needed to find out if they fit in the timeline. If they didn’t it required a decision about putting the scene in a different place or not having the full moon be an important plot device.

It’s been eleven years since the last book (Circle of Dreams) and it often feels like I am writing in the fog. So it was heartening to hear a writer like E.L. Doctorow remind me that the whole book can be written that way.  I am hoping the sun will illuminate the final draft.

 

 

Six on Saturday: too much to do

We’ve had five days with no rain. A record for this very wet spring. We may be able to mow the grass seeded section in the back yard that has been a soggy mess since we put 2 cubic yards of top soil on that area and seeded it. It now looks like a maple tree reforestation project. If we can’t mow it soon, we’ll need a bush hog.

The drip irrigation system hasn’t been turned on or tested. I planted window boxes for the front of the house, but they have to be installed (which involves the irrigation system). Bean seeds are germinating on my kitchen counter and need to be planted in my community garden bed. I haven’t been over there in a week so it surely needs weeding. Last time I looked the tomatoes were blooming. The home garden beds desperately need attention. Mulch needs to be ordered and spread. Two writing projects are languishing on my desk as other, more pressing, garden tasks go to the top of the “to do” list.

It’s June, I remind myself. It’s always like this. I wish there was time to sit in this part of my garden and take a breath. Oh, and out of town family is coming to visit this weekend. That will make me stop for a little while.

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2. The peony root that I planted last fall has made an appearance. Tiny, but there. I had given up.

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3. A bed in the front of the house is always full of self-seeding cleomes. But in the spring the beds look like this. The volunteer maple trees and rudbeckia have to come out. This area has to be hand-weeded and when the cleome seedlings are a little larger, they will be thinned. That bed will be glorious by mid-summer and full of humming birds and butterflies.

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4. I finished painting the cement leaf castings I made last fall. The issue now is where to place them in the garden. The big ones are elephant ear leaves and the smaller ones are hostas. Last fall I had thirteen different “workshops” where I taught friends how to make leaf castings on a table set up in my driveway. My friend, Gail, made the largest one. It was 40″ long. The leaf casting workshop is closed this year.

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5.  My Francis Williams hosta is blooming. I think it’s early.

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6. This is a very confused azalea. All those different colored flowers on the same plant. The rosy ones at the top look like the Macrantha Rose that is next to it (with a gazillion cleome seedlings that need to be pulled surrounding it. I quite like the pink and white flowers. I’ll try and peg a branch down and root it.

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That’s my Six on Saturday for this week. The meme was started by The Propogator, a UK gardener. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.