I’m sitting here with seed and plant catalogs scattered around—Plant Delights, Botanical Interests, Baker Creek, Cook’s Garden, John Scheepers…My Lee Valley 10-Year Garden Journal is open to February. My Excel spread sheet plant inventory is open on my computer screen. The collection I affectionately refer to as my Seed Vault is on the floor under my desk, threatening to overflow into Seed Vault Two.
I’m bundled in a bulky sweater, fingerless gloves and my warmest Ugg shoes. I hardly remember what summer looked like last year.
Potager in June
I know it was green. I’m pretty sure it was green. I remember picking tomatoes, cucumbers, tiny mar des bois strawberries, Bright Lights Swiss chard. My husband and I spent many evenings under the stars finishing dinner and drinking wine, listening to the crickets and watching the bats dart across the night sky. I can remember the smell of freshly mown grass and basil pinched between my fingernails.
Gosh, my feet are cold. I should to make some hot tea.
Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly
Oh yes, we had lots of butterflies last year. Monarchs, zebra swallowtails, eastern tiger swallowtails, red admirals. I didn’t know the name of some of the butterflies and moths but loved them just the same. I remember wondering why the monarchs seemed so skittish and the eastern tiger swallowtails would almost let me touch them.
Oh, that’s right. All those celeste figs! So many I hardly knew what to do with them all. I stood next to the tree and popped them right into my mouth.
Maybe another pair of socks would help warm my feet.
Oh, the birds! That’s right. Our hummingbird feeder had a lot of business last summer.
I should bundle up and go top off the bird feeders now. That birdbath could use some hot water to melt the ice too.
Lemon grass in the foreground
So much lemon grass! I remember I was glad I only planted one since it nearly crowded out the cone flowers.
And the asparagus was filling in nicely. I think we can pick some more this year.
Ah yes. There was color too. Purples and blues and oranges and yellows.
It’s awfully cold in here. Maybe I should just turn up the heat for a little while.
Oh, that’s right. It’ll be better soon.
(Click on the photos to embiggen.)
April, May and June were so very lovely. Winter departed early giving us a chance to get outdoors, tidy and plant our veggies weeks before we would normally consider emerging from inside. I, for one, was exhilarated by the fireflies in April, the balmy May breezes, the lovely June evenings eating dinner on the patio.
Potager in June
Well, early June that is. It got pretty ugly last week.
The confluence of thunderstorms that I learned is called a derecho (prounounced “deh-REY-cho”) blew through here near midnight on Friday, June 29. I was sound asleep when I was rudely awakened by howling winds and two terrified Papillons tap dancing on top of me. Yes, our little dogs sleep with us. That’s just the way we roll.
I tucked one little dog under one arm and the other little dog under the other arm and whispered reassurances to them. There was wind blowing. There were crashing sounds. And then…the most terrifying sound of all. Three battery backup systems started beeping. The power had gone out.
Now, if you don’t live in a rural area you may not have the full appreciation for how bad it is when the power goes out. It’s not just that we don’t have lights, air conditioning and internet. We don’t have water. No showers—even cold ones—no toilets to flush, no water for the plants. Nothing. And being at the end of the power grid (or so it seems), we can pretty much count on being low on the priority list when it comes to getting power restored.
We suffered through Saturday and Sunday with none of the comforts of civilization. It was nearly 100 degrees both days. Despite buying ice and trying to save food, we lost most everything in two refrigerator/freezers.
We were giddy with joy when the power came back on Sunday night. It took hours and hours to cool the house back down and most of Monday to clean up the refrigerator messes. Going to the dump following a power outage is not for the weak. It takes a strong stomach and strong arms to do the dirty task.
You might think my whining is complete. But nay nay!
We may have power, but it’s still miserably hot and our area is in moderate drought conditions. I spend my days working at the desk and taking breaks every half hour or so to dash outside, move hoses and hand water plants. From time to time I put down the hose to pick Japanese beetles from the beans, rhubarb and roses and drop them into a jar of soapy water. If the jar isn’t handy and I see one I just squish it with my bare hands. I am fearless!
Things look a bit ratty here and there from the heat, drought and chicken scratchings. July is, so far, the cruelest month. But we’re getting beans, cucumbers, squash, leeks and herbs. The lettuce has turned bitter, but the Swiss chard is in. Tomatoes are growing and so far I see no signs of the fusarium wilt problem we have had the past two summers. Perhaps all that solarizing last summer did the trick?
The gardener’s life is not always easy. But it is quite often rewarding, even during cruel times.
(Click on the photos to embiggen.)