Spring 2016 in the Shenandoah Valley has been especially challenging for farmers and gardeners. Crazy warmth in March lured plants out to be zapped by inevitable frosts and May has been the coldest, wettest I can recall until these past few days. We swung from having the furnace on in this old farm-house to sweltering heat. Not easy on people or plants. Still, there is much beauty in the garden, captured by daughter Elise.
"A garden is always a series of losses set against a few triumphs, like life itself." ~May Sarton
We mix herbs with flowers and vegetables. A wonderful meld. Wildflowers are also a favorite in the garden, like wild aster and Queen Anne's Lace, plus, plus. Some were planted by birds and the wind, others from seed or stock we purchased. There are those who might refer to these as 'weeds.'
Of course, we have the garden cat, also called the Apothecary Cat or Apothecarist. I decided our garden is a physic or apothecary garden because it has many medicinal plants, which includes some of the so-called 'weeds', thus justifying its less than perfect state (according to suburbia, anyway, which, thank God, we don't live in). Elise suggested kitty be called the Apothecarist (one who dispenses medicines and herbal cures). Kitty doesn't do that, but it's a great name. Before this, he was known as one of the triplets.
This spring we're making pathways with cardboard boxes covered in straw, using my Amazon box collection. I save those boxes religiously. The straw we gleaned from the barn. Pathways are a work in progress. Below is a pic of me against a patch of sweet alyssum we've planted in drifts in many sections of the garden. It's just beginning to bloom. We are using alyssum as a ground cover and to attract beneficial insects and honey bees.
It is utterly forbidden to be half-hearted about gardening. You have got to love your garden whether you like it or not. ~W.C. Sellar & R.J. Yeatman, Garden Rubbish, 1936
My box/straw pathway, next to the potato patch. The sticks mark the many little herbs and flowers we've added to keep them from getting stepped on. How glorious it will be when this is all lush and blooming. I'm smashing potato bugs.
(This Peony has been here forever, since my Mother-in-law's time and possibly farther back than that. The house was built in the 1870's.)
In the kitchen window, I have several pots of cyclamen. These remind me of my late sister-in-law, Catarina. A cyclamen was the last plant she ever gave me. She loved flowers. I grow cyclamens in remembrance of her, and I often think of her. I ordered this pink one last year from Jackson & Perkins to commemorate her passing. The next month, J&P sent me a second identical plant. So I have two thriving cyclamens. Thank you whoever sent this. I inquired, but no one at the company seemed to know why it came at no charge. Maybe Catarina didn't trust me to keep the first one alive. Admittedly, the cyclamen she gave me didn't make it, but this is the same color, and I've learned more about their care now.
One of life's mysteries. The garden is full of surprises.
Some roses didn't survive the plummeting temps this winter, but Abraham Darby did. My favorite rose.
***All images by Elise Trissel.