I noticed that I still have some dirt under my fingernails as I sat down to write. The last few weeks have been busy with house guests, moving my daughter closer, and painting the exterior of the house. Various grasses and weeds had sprung up in the heat of the previous week and I couldn’t see some of the plants I actually wanted because of them. I couldn’t get into the garden to weed or pick the strawberries I could see from the deck when I dumped the compost into the bin. But last night and this morning, while I was alone, I went into the yard and ate the last of the strawberries for the year, with no guilt about sharing them as there were so few left and no one was around to complain. I got most of the way around the back yard weeding and discovering the summer version of our yard.
There were gladiolus along the fence last summer, but no sign of them this year. The dwarf daphne is flowering a second time; such a fragrant surprise! There are volunteer oregano and winter savory plants that had to be eradicated at the risk of burying the lovely daphne. There is a huge infestation of aphids on the Italian Prune tree and the two modern rose bushes, but nothing on the white ‘old rose’ variety; I must see to dealing with this promptly.
The heat has also encouraged the Virginia creeper and blackberry vines, so when there are four hands, we will work together to deliver the liquid poison to just those plants while keeping the desirable plants protected. The fall of 2009 we physically removed three huge Virginia creeper plants and many black berry bushes. At the end of that season we had gone through several pair of gloves, broke a shovel from its handle, and exposed several struggling plants I didn’t even know were there. At the beginning of the 2010 planting season we began using poison to remove the rest of the invading species as their roots are so difficult to remove completely. Here’s to hoping this is the last year we will have to deal with them!
Our current bushes are loaded with berries. The gooseberry bush has blushing fruit globes dangling from its branches; this is the first year I have eaten a gooseberry and I am really glad we planted it. Maybe this week I will get some help to pick the abundance of berries and make some jelly, maybe even some with hot pepper sauce in them. Even though we had a very wet spring, the berries have sweetened up nicely.
My biggest experiment this season was garlic. I received the garlic in very late November and planted it right away. The winter was very cold, but the garlic started growing as soon as the soil thawed. Now that it is beginning to die back, some of them are starting to flower; which I do not think I want. But their curled stems are so elegant I do not want to cut them off to salvage the root. I am not suppose to water them when they hit this stage, but they are in the way of several other plants that do need water at this time of year, so we will see how they do when I pick them in a couple of weeks.
For all of the weeds and unwanted plants that persist in the garden, it is still a pleasant place to be, a mecca of bees and butterflies, and making progress into the peaceful, easy-to-care-for garden that we would like to achieve. We are providing ourselves with herbs for exquisite dishes from our kitchen, berries and vegetables, and maybe next year we will keep the birds from eating the new prunes on the tree. There are flowers and lovely foliage throughout the year.