Six on Saturday – August 25, 2018 –

Today’s post is a melange of photos.

One and two were taken at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. We had relatives visiting from the Portland area and this was a great way to introduce them to the history and culture of the Chesapeake.

I’ve been wanting to include some specific photos from the museum gardens. The one below was a project of a St. Michaels High School student who, several years ago, received a grant to install a butterfly garden. This photo shows just a piece of it. I saw my first Monarch butterfly of the season there this week, but it declined to be in my picture.

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2. There are two relocated dwellings at the museum which demonstrate the types of houses common on the shore in the 1700’s. It is important to remember that until the Bay Bridge was opened in July, 1952, the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake was isolated, only  accessed from the Baltimore area by boat or a long drive around the top of the bay and down through Delaware.

The house on the left in the photo below is the Mitchell House and was once the home of Eliza Bailey Mitchell, the sister of abolitionist Frederick Douglas. A former slave, Eliza and her free black husband, Peter, lived in this house and worked nearby on Perry Cabin Farm.

The log house on the right is a humble farm cabin, once common throughout rural Chesapeake. This dwelling served as the tenant farming house for Albert and Henrietta Wilson and their eight children for most of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Although small, this log cabin provided the basic essentials – a hearth for cooking, a table for gathering, and a dry, warm place to sleep at night.

My friend, Roger Galvin, designed raised garden beds to illustrate the types of food crops which would have been grown around houses like this in the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. The paths between the beds are oyster shells.

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3. Now back to my back yard. Several crepe myrtles that were planted when small are now tall and really blooming for the first time. This is one of two that I rescued from someone’s trash. The home owner had put them out for the garbage men to take. They seemed healthy enough so I brought them home. That was probably eight years ago. (I’m a patient gardener.) It may have helped that one of the compost bins feeds the roots.

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4. One of my leaf castings sits on the deck. I keep a little water in it for the butterflies. The crepe myrtle in the bottom of that picture is growing from the roots of one I moved. Obviously I didn’t get it all. I don’t mind it there as long as I can keep it short.

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5. The garden that is going to get an overhaul this fall doesn’t look so back from this angle. Soaker hoses are connected to my four rain barrels that collect rain from the shed roof. This area is under water when we have heavy rains and dries out to concrete when we don’t have rain.

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6. A big job this fall is to remove this multiple trunked river birch. For a number of years I had it topped to keep it in scale with my house and to maintain a weeping look. I suppose I could have it trimmed to get a couple more years out of it, but I have several other small trees that will fill in when the birch is gone. The other trash rescued crepe mytle is one of those trees. You can see it blooming behind the right side of the birch. At the left side of that bed I have a flowering cherry. The area may look slightly bare for a couple of years, but, as I said, I’m patient.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed my Six on Saturday. The gardens are slowing down but the asters and golden rod are still to come.

The Week of 600 Bulbs

St. Michaels, the small-town on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay where I live, has decided to become an “In Bloom” town. Apparently there are lots of other towns across the country that are part of this movement which started in Europe. When I was asked to be involved, I sat on my hands. I have enough volunteer activities on my plate.

One of those volunteer activities is to co-chair the Grounds Committee at the St. Michaels Woman’s Club. We are a committee of two and my co, Joanne, and I do most of the work to keep the grounds looking good. Several times a year we ask for volunteers to help with clean-up, and sometimes we hire some help. The town mows the grass.

Joanne went to a St. Michaels in Bloom meeting and forgot to sit on her hands. The result was 500 daffodil bulbs that needed to be planted this week. That’s a lot of bulbs! I didn’t get a photo of the four large bags we got, but here are some of what we put in the ground. Multiply that by twenty.

Joanne and another club member planted about 100 on Friday. She asked me to come and I told her it was the only day that week that I didn’t have some volunteer activity and I wanted some time for myself. She was understanding. I planted 50 tulip bulbs at home that day and then went to the clubhouse and planted 50 more in the back. The weather was decent and Friday night it was going to turn cold so I wanted to get it done. Those tulips were my idea so I felt responsible for getting them in the ground.

Yesterday we planted the rest of the daffodil bulbs. They are being planted all around St. Michaels. 10,000 bulbs, so I’m really glad I didn’t go to that meeting. Five hundred was more than enough for me, but the Woman’s Club, and the town, will be glorious next spring. A Daffodil Festival is planned. I am super glueing my hands to my thighs after my wrists get back to normal from using the bulb planter.

From the Garden

Over the weekend I cooked my purple sweet potatoes. They were not a gardening success. I think the 6 plants cost $15. These are a Japanese variety that is supposed to full of good stuff that will make you life forever. I got a pitiful yield. Cut, they went into one pot. We’ll be eating them for awhile as it’s just the two of us.

The are a beautiful color, but I should have worn gloves when I peeled and cut them up. (The red stains were gone by the next day.) These sweet potatoes were tasty, but very starchy. I had to put them in my stand mixer to mash them.

We’ve had several nights of hard freezes. Tomorrow I’ll check out my radishes and turnips. I’m expecting the turnips will be okay, but the radishes may be mush. Baby bok choy looks fine as do the kale and collards.

On Stage…

My theater ladies and I saw Shakespeare in Love on Sunday afternoon at Baltimore Center Stage. It was a wonderful, funny romp.

The play was adapted from the movie and it was fascinating to see the creative staging. One of my favorite parts was a boatman rowing Violet and Will down the Thames. The stage has a small portion that can be opened to an understage area. Oarlocks had been installed on the underside of the trap doors and oars inserted. The boatman sat on the edge of the opening and rowed in slow motion. The audience imagined the water. It was such a clever bit of stage business.

A couple of weeks ago I attended a performance of The Boatwright, written and performed by Patrick Tovattin one of the boat sheds at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum.

Three actors sat on stools and read the play. A narrator sat on the side and gave occasional information about the setting which the audience could then envision. That worked better than I would have imagined. There really was no need for a set. The play was brought to St. Michaels by our friend, Mary Kay Powell, a former Hollywood mover and shaker who retired to our little town. Laura missed this one night performance, a fund-raiser for Talbot Mentors. I was sorry she didn’t get to see it. We get a lot of ideas from the theater performances we attend.

Writing

We are in the beginning stages of our second Santa Diaries play – same characters five years later. We have the arc mapped out and now need to write the scenes. The process is always an evolution, so just because we think we know what is going to happen, doesn’t mean the characters may not throw some curve balls at us.

That’s life in St. Michaels, one of the prettiest small-towns in America. It’s where write, garden, cook and, some weeks, plant 600 bulbs.