Season to season, day to day, even sometimes hour to hour the garden can reach a new high, and depending on the weather, it can sink just as fast. And I haven’t got a camera.
When Nancy and I went out this morning, Memorial Day, around eight o’clock to finish planting the vegetables, I didn’t notice much. We had had a few violent thunder storms during the night and the plants looked a little beaten down. There is a handsome white iris that only seems able to make an appearance for about fifteen minutes, and sure enough it was lying on its side exhausted. (Reminder: get ride of iris in one week and plant something else.)
But Nancy had to go home today, so we were anxious to get the job done. She had to plant the beans on the fence with the peppers arranged beneath them. I was to plant basil in a diagonal between two tomatoes and then plant four more peppers, one on each side of the square. I am very proud of this design. Work well done nancy went back in the house to shower and I drifted in behind her ready to flop with a cup of coffee. , and it was.It all sounds uneventful. Nancy left; I chopped and froze a bunch parsley big enough for a generous pesto and more to freeze. Parsley is a biennial that I choose to save from going to seed. I’ll dig up the roots and scrub and freeze them for some delicious soup or stew. The day is now almost gone but at some point I watched Sara Palin on a motorcycle and decided she does have a serious bone in her body. She is pretty serious about making lots of money
None of this deals with the beautiful garden, however. And I am at a loss as to how to describe it. Perhaps one should start at the bottom and work one’s way upward. I could make general rules for describing the wild and rocky garden fortified by juditius pats here and small insertions there. The bed in front of the wall is displaying peonies in bud with two more iris, of a luscious purple black. These , not yet in bloom, suggest a futre at least as bounteous. Just above geraniums reflect more pink and blue, the old fashioned lavender iris is proudly waving around, too strong to be broken down beside its weak white sister that hides now under the spirea and what we mistakenly call bachelor buttons. This is absolutely their moment, the blue so rich it makes you draw in your breath. But perhaps we need a dose of cruelty to elevate beauty. Speaking plainly those bachelor buttons are like the old marauding tribes from the east, and they will run over every other root in their way. They are so ruthless that they have put the lilies of the valley under their control and they will soon back up into the poppies for a battle royal. Up and just a little to the right our eyes light on lemon lilies, bright and cool beside the spirea where butter cups also hold court. St John’s wort is just now setting buds; across the path above it lavender weigle rises over everything else, and spotted throughout in every corner is the spring eruption of wild phlox.
This still doesn’t mention the pear tree at the end of the bed, or it’s hanging tiny green pears. nor does it mention two flowers, a flower that reminds me of many long walks where Harry and I wandered among flowers blooming with their special messages for me every year. There is the Star of Bethlehem, a wild bulb that can be found blooming when the sun is shining between the rows of grapes in the Tuscan vineyards. First we have the walk, and then we go into some local bar for a coffee or a glass chianti, and perhaps end our afternoon with a late lunch at some extraordinary ristorante. Well, it always seemed extraordinary. The other flower I like for a mistake I once made. It was catalogue time in winter when we lived in the old house. I remember being in a hurry to make my order and when I believed I had seen the name Transcendentia, I immediately added two or three boxes to my list. What could possibly be better, I thought than to have such a firm, strong reminder of the Concord group of American intellectuals. When it came and I looked at the bill I found I had made a big mistake. I hit a low, and thought perhaps I would learn from this, because it wasn’t Transcendetia at all. It was Tradescantia, and yes I did learn lesson from it, which I learn afresh every year.