Climbing Roses

Aug5When we moved into this nondescript little grey house, the bushes hunkered down against the cold, the weeds spread their wings wide and water pooled in murky grass along the entire north side of the house.  We’ve since hand-dug trenches inside the foundation wall and installed sump pumps, laboriously machine dug a French drain, and laid drainage gravel to whisk away the rain. In the winter, it now flows away from the house and we watch the storm drain swallow the wetness that was our swamp filler.

Once the water was at bay, I turned to the weed bed. I pulled the noxious ones and over-wintered it with clover to enrich the depleted soil. I planted cast-offs from the end of season garden carts, not knowing what would survive this poor soil. The carnations died.  The salvia fed the saucy hummingbird and then didn’t make it to the spring. The hydrangeas pouted and dropped all their petals, scratching at the air with their exposed brown branches. But the lavender was happy. It took over the spaces left bare by the carnations and salvia and fed bees by the hundreds every day.  At peace for a moment with the weeding, I turned my attentions to the front bed.
The pitiful roses crawled along the ground, the petals crushed by rains, their branches many and wild, all vying for attention.  My vision is naturally a lush and heavy rose, one who is fragrant, heady, and carefree.  Ones just like the pin that inspires me for today. But the roses I’ve been given are of the roadside variety.  They grace the drab concrete Walgreens Pharmacy across the street, hardly the Palace at Versailles. They mass when they are hardily clipped and kept low.

When I visited my girlfriend Lori’s high maintenance rose garden, I saw how she’d trained her climbers.  She chose two main stalks and attached them to an arbor.  They grew straight and clean, flowering profusely up the side of the structure.  They have yet to cover the whole arbor, as she envisions, but I can see it.

I picked up two frames this week at an end of season sale and today I am planting them in front of the house. Next I’ll be choosing which stalks are going to be the lucky ones.  All the others will be trimmed back next winter with the tips listed at Fine Gardening.


It’s the beginning of my summer, just after the summer solstice, and a Thursday.  I’m rather settled in the “cottage”, but the backyard (tiny) looks like a weedlot. Dh kindly built a raised bed for the tomatoes with the supplies I’d purchased. (I must water, I must!)  I really don’t want to do anything more with the yard until we’ve built the patio though, and that may be a while yet.  He used his “one day off per week” to build it for me.  (must water, must water!)

Raised bed

I’ve actually pulled out my pencils to begin a piece of art. I said this last summer as well, but this time I actually have started! I did a pre-sketch of a watercolor last week and worked on ideas for the overlay this week.  Come Monday, I will begin sketching on that as well.

The neighbor’s plantings look lovely from the viewpoint of this photo.  Maybe I should just crawl around on all fours when in the backyard from now on. It would prevent me from being able to look over the fence to see the obnoxious items in the view from the back door. (I must water, I must!)




Each spring since I’ve been married, there’s been a blooming tree in our yard, no matter where we are living. Several years ago, one of my Japanese students mentioned that she was going to the cherry blossom festival and then I flew to D.C. the next year while the trees were in bloom there.  Of course, I couldn’t help but think of blossoms and friends elsewhere when the flowers appeared this year.  My student and her family are safe, but they ask for prayers for Japan.  Can you send one up?

I took several photos of these flowers last week, but I just wasn’t happy with them.  However, the light was just perfect when I approached them again a few days later.  This reminded me of a girl’s frilly dress.

Searching for Spring

This has been a wild winter.  Since August we’ve lived in our home, a tent, a car, with friends, a rental house, a hotel, our old home, and soon a new place. I’m ready to settle in, plant a few bulbs, and begin anew.

However, we are still in our waiting stage, waiting for spring.  While waiting, a few bulbs I planted years ago at our old home are coming out to cheer me.  There are baby showers all around me, and just this morning, the temperature outside is 20 degrees warmer than this time last week.  Maybe it’s pushing the door open…

First day of Summer

I know that the first day of summer is a little ways off on your calendar.

I know that the rain is coming down in torrents outside my door.

I know that most kids in the Northern Hemisphere are still in school.

However, I have no more classes to teach, no more papers to critique, no more carpools to drive. Therefore, I am out for the summer!

My own art began in earnest today.  I shoveled my way to the desk, cleared a space and began to draw.  I’m really quite pleased that it really was no harder than that.  We’ll see how the regimen goes for the next 100 days or so, but I’m hopeful, very hopeful, that pen and paint will be set to paper around here.

A lovely little something to jump start your summer, Small Magazine, an on-line children’s zine, arrived in my mailbox today. (Just click on the link and you can read it too!)  Australia is not heading into summer, but there is a lovely new issue of Papier Mache out.  They’ve also just increased their publishing times to four editions a year. Yeah! I miss

Cookie magazine, but these go a little ways toward replacing them. (At least in my mind…)

There are some darling raised beds at Little Cotton Rabbits I wonder if her contraption would have protected my tomatoes from the horrid batch of hail we got the day after I’d planted the garden. (My plants did survive, but they were not happy and now have yellow leaves all around the base.)

What triggers your sweet childhood memories? For me it was these leaves, spotted at the zoo. I had not seen leaves like this since I was five. We lived in Pennsylvania then, and there was a wood at the back of our property.  I wandered through the wood and came to a little glade.  The glade was full of nothing but these leaves.  I was tiny and they grew up around my waist. I reached down and picked one. It was a perfect parasol on a bright sunny afternoon…

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