Friday, June 15, 2007

The Wounded Visitor

The lawnmower stood poised at the ready, but mid-step I paused. Something lay in the grass a few feet ahead. A scrap of paper blown in on the same breeze that finally pushed the clouds away? Not this time. I’d discovered a visitor to my yard, one I’d courted with the addition of buddleia and bee balm (not yet in bloom), fuchsia and snap dragons, and wildflowers galore across the areas left to nature’s whims. I stepped closer. My visitor was a large black and yellow butterfly – a most welcome surprise. I quietly moved away to fetch my camera from inside the house. Another pleasant surprise when I returned: my visitor had remained and even continued to tolerate my presence as I clicked off a dozen shots. I also discovered the reason for the butterfly’s sojourn – its wings were tattered. Such beauty, so fragile. And its fate not mine in which to interfere. So I left it there on the lawn and went inside to download my pictures. A while later, after I’d spent some time online identifying the butterfly as a Canadian Tiger Swallowtail, I checked back and it had gone – no sign in the yard at all as I mowed the lawn. I’m a sucker for happy endings (even illusory ones) and imagine that the butterfly, well rested, resumed its flight into the sunny afternoon. With no evidence to the contrary, that’s the way it is in my garden today.

Friday, June 8, 2007

About My Garden

Is it passion or obsession? Do I need a hobby, a diversion, something to get my mind off what it’s so firmly fixated upon? Okay, I admit it: I talk about it a lot. The house, the yard, the seemingly endless, growing, shaggy carpet of green that is my lawn and my ongoing quest to pull it all together.

It’s been a little over a year since I moved in here and it seems like I should have accomplished so much more by now. Yet when I think back on the months that have slipped by, I spent a lot of time unpacking and sorting and finding places for all the things that spilled from boxes and bags all over the place. And the yard isn’t quite what it was when I moved in. There are more flower beds, a bit less grass. I’ve stuck to my conviction to do it my way – organically, in harmony with the natural world around me, even if a part of that world, the lawn my father spent over 50 years cultivating, is at the top of my It’s Gotta Go list.

Why? I admit the lawn is gorgeous when mowed to glistening green perfection, but then it rains and the sun shines and the lawn becomes too wild for my likes – shaggy, unruly, something Dad (a man who proudly mowed twice a week in peak grass growing season) never would have let happen. That left me with limited options: mow the nearly acre sized monster (requiring most of my free time), hire someone to do it or make the lawn something more manageable by making it gone. Or at least mostly gone. There is, after all, nothing like walking barefoot on a hot summer day through the freshly cut grass, deeply inhaling that wonderful fragrance. So there must always remain some part, just about enough to mow to the point of feeling virtuous. As for the rest, the possibilities are boundless – trees, shrubs, annuals, perennials, and on and on.

Now the lawn-that-was is spotted with a dozen dwarf fruit trees, as many blueberry bushes, and ever increasing beds of flowers and herbs. Oh, and veggies, too, to be sure all the senses are satisfied. Yet the massive expanse of the lawn remains, ever trying to retake ground claimed for planting beds. Mulch has become my ally, bags brought home by the Jeep full, a soft brown carpet to replace the green. Trays of plants wait beneath the crimson maple tree. And the grass grows.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Yet Another Blog About Gardening

Yes, this is, I admit it, yet another blog about gardening.  But unlike the others, it’s about my garden.  So?  So, they say write about what you know, things that you’re passionate about, things you love.  That would be my garden.  It’s a work in progress, sometimes inspired, sometimes neglected when life intervenes, but above all it’s a learning experience:  one I hope to share with others.  Welcome to my garden.