Sunday, June 13, 2021

A Visit From The Four Horsemen

                                        Rancho FirstNations, still repping for Uncle Joe.

 It is a lovely, warm, rainy day here, and we've been lolling around holding down the furniture for the better part of the day.  

This is the best kind of rain - warm, a little breeze, just the air moving.  

The worst thing that can happen to the garden this time of the year is a fog - still, stale and rank. Mildew spreads over the leaves of plants like frost and can only be stopped, not prevented.  But in a gentle rain, all the parts of the plants are washed off, the dust carried away, and no soil is splashed up.  All the smells of the garden gather together, shaken out by the droplets falling on the petals, and the breeze carries them into the house, and I swear to God it smells like honey and roses, and it's rich and warm and wonderful,  outside and inside my house.  What a fantastic lazy day.

The rain has also brought on my calendulas, and they are doing their part, filling in the gaps that the aquilegia are leaving as they go to seed, the saturated orange so close to the ground that it tempers the overwhelming greenness of the rest of the gardens' foliage.  The japanese mugwort and the needle-lace artemesia is coming in tall and silver too, and that takes away another bit of the dominance of green so that what I have is not just a sheet of green with dots of color, but every color.  It is downright gaudy out there, and I love it.

Pulling for the team is Campanula Glomerata.  (You can see it in the picture above, that line of bright blue flowers in the middle there.) It comes up with a fuzzy stem and leaf, and the blossoms are the loveliest shade of gentian blue you can imagine - and it spreads by stolons.  You get a globe of glorious blue atop a sturdy stem, and if you deadhead that once the petals wither, another globe of bell-shaped blossoms will grow out of the next whorl of leaves further on down the stem.  I use it as a margin in some places and as a filler in others.  The great thing about it is that if you don't like where it is, you can yank it right out of the ground, no fighting, no digging -  pop off the blossom and plant it in another location - and in a week it will have seated itself and will be throwing out blossoms, just that easy.

Just beginning to blossom is Primula Missouriensis.  I use it the same way I use Campanula Glomerata. It is the same height, and has the same growth habit - spreads by stolons, masses like a champ, can be transplanted effortlessly.  It, however, comes up with a shiny green leaf, it has a bright vermillion flower bud, and it's saturated Pantone yellow blossoms form a corona.   Like the C. Glomerata, once the blossoms fade, you pop them off and another one blooms on the next whorl of leaves on down the stem.  This is an astounding plant to use around the bare ankles of a deep pink or orange rose.  I have it standing guard around the base of 'Pink Fairy' and also 'Cinco de Mayo' - where it really, really shines as a combination planting.  'Cinco' has a deep green, shiny leaf too, and the sexy orange and apricot, diamond-dusted blossoms just love that rich yellow and those vermillion buds.


I had a visit from the Four Horsemen of the  Apocalypse yesterday (four little boys who are obsessed with my garden.)  I was apprised of their arrival by one of the shouting 'LOOK AT THIS!' about fifty times - which I ignored because little boys.  I looked up when he said "HEY MRS. FIRSTNATIONS LOOK AT THIS!" and then I had to come over and see what was in his hand.

"ITS A DEAD BIRD HEAD!" he shouted, unnecessarily.

And it was a dead bird head.  Hemisected.  Like a knicknack from Ed Geins house.  Half an empty cranial cavity like a bowl, one empty eye socket and half a long upper beak.  

You don't see that every day.

"Honey, never ever pick up dead animals," I said to him. "Dead birds have a really bad disease called salmonella that can make you throw up for a whole week. Please drop that and run go wash your hands right now," I said, being a grandma.

Well, he ran off, I went back to pulling out hogweed, and suddenly I have four little boys in my garden.  They all have questions.  Is this the same thing as that?  Where did this come from?  What are these kind of bees? and I said "OK now.  I'm going to cut each one of you a nice bouquet to take home to your mom, OK?" very cheerfully.  "You have to take turns, but you get to pick out the flowers!"

This worked Like A Charm.  Four mannerly little savages trooped around with me and picked out flowers for their Mom Bouquet (I had to explain the meaning of the word 'bouquet' ) and then  I told them "Run home quick now and tell your mom to put these in a glass of water so they'll last!"  And off the streaked, and into the house I ran, and cracked a beer, and planted my ass on the sofa. 

Until I heard a noise in the back yard, and looked out the kitchen window, and saw a very little boy standing in my garden shed yelling "MRS. FIRSTNATIONS?" unnecessarily because it's a small shed and I'm a stocky lady.  (And I was wearing a bright blue and scarlet 'Skynet Labs Cybernetic Development Team' t-shirt.)

"Honey, you can't just run into my yard like this," I said, leading him out of the shed.  "If you don't see me, you have to come to the front door and knock and ask for Mrs. FirstNations, OK?"

"OK," he yelled.  "MRS. FIRSTNATIONS?"

"What, honey?" I asked.


"No hon, I'm sorry, I'm going inside to rest now.  You go play with your buddies now.  I'll see you later," I said, leading him out of the yard again.  "Bye!"

And on the way back to join his buddies, he picked up the damn dead bird head again.


dinahmow said...

Those kids are lucky to have you in the 'hood.

Breenlantern said...

Oh my stars. Your flower garden is breathtaking. I am so envious. I wish I had the patients and skill to create such a landscape. Sigh.

You are a real sport handling the neighborhood urchins the way you do. I am grateful that whatever kids populate our neighborhood stay away from our house and yard. I’m just not a kid person.


Breenlantern said...

*patience* (uggh!)

Jon said...

The garden's looking great! This is indeed a lovely season, as all the early bloomers hand over to the stalwarts of the border before the real riot of summer truly kicks in. We're enjoying the full flush of our roses, Hesperis matronalis, jasmine and herbaceous geraniums, and many of the fuchsias are finally shaking off the rotten Spring and throwing out some blowsy blooms. We expect to see in the next few weeks the first Hemerocallis, salvias, clematis and lilies start to open. Heaven, indeed. Jx

PS We miss our Campanula medium (couldn't find a replacement plant for love nor money this year!).

Jennifer said...

I'm envious of those kids, getting to cut a bouquet from your beautiful garden!

Steve. Because 'Steve' is almost as nice a name as 'Paul'. said...

Dinahmow: I'm lucky to have THEM. Just about all the kids around here are well-behaved, and I don't mind them a bit. I'm carrying on in my grandma's footsteps - she used to do the same thing.

Steve. Because 'Steve' is almost as nice a name as 'Paul'. said...

Breenlantern: Your place looks great. I've seen the pictures. So nyah.

Steve. Because 'Steve' is almost as nice a name as 'Paul'. said...

Jon: Hesperis is strictly a wildflower here and can I get it to grow in my garden? No I cannot. I've brought in wild foxglove and wild poppies and wild heuchera, fine, no problem. Pisses me off! And augh! Campanula media! The slugs come parachuting in from foreign countries to feast on the stuff - same with those little orange marigolds. But hesperis! My grandmother had it everywhere! Me? Bupkis. Snuffle.

Steve. Because 'Steve' is almost as nice a name as 'Paul'. said...

Jennifer: Hey, it's good for the plants, and it helps calm the mommies down. I've had a few get sniffy about 'Don't talk to her, she's busy' and that kind of shit, but send their dimpled darlings home with some pretty flowers and it kind of makes everybody a little happier, me included. I love cutting bouquets for people.

Jon said...

Hesperis is a lovely thing, and - had the Jasmine (and now the vile weed Elderflower from our neighbours' garden, which stinks of piss) not been in such close proximity - would normally perfume the air in the night garden. I am surprised you couldn't get it to grow. Ours popped up from doing our "we have loads of half-opened packets of old seeds, let's mix 'em up and scatter them" moments, and for ages we had no idea what it was. It's a biennial, so it takes its time to come to flowering height, but now it's over four feet tall and looking splendid!

We have slugs and snails galore in this garden (understandable when one only have pots to grow in and no "free reign" for predators like frogs, toads or hedgehogs) - they shred big Nicotiana leaves, attack the Dahlias, and generally cause mayhem to smaller plants that haven't had chance to get going... but Campanula medium? Not even a nibble. It flowered a little at around eight inches tall in year 1, survived the winter and then grew to around three feet, smothered in blooms, before carking it [another biennial]!


ProximaBlue said...

Whew, for a moment I mis-read and thought you were sending the boys off with bouquets of hogweed! I hope you took all proper precautions with that! The rain has been very helpful indeed. I finally got all the plants I purchased two months ago into the ground so I'm happy to let nature water them for me. My son is the youngest kid in our hood at eleven, but I do get polite teens who sometimes come to sit near me. They are an odd lot. Like the rabbits, they don't want me to focus on them in any way. They only want to sit safely nearby and chew on their thoughts. They often say Thank you as they leave. Now I'm left to wonder if my joyful and serene vibes have somehow become downloadable.

Steve. Because 'Steve' is almost as nice a name as 'Paul'. said...

Melanie Reynolds: You know I've had the same thing happen here? That's how I met First Pet Teenager! She and her buddies would hang out on the alley side of my staghorn willow and just plot and plan and hold deep sessions back there. She was the only one who would answer to a
Hello!' from the old broad in the 'Frankie Says Relax' t-shirt. I don't send out many hjoyful or serene vibes, but I think my plants do. I blame the salix.

ProximaBlue said...

You're probably right. It has nothing to do with either of us, just the environments that we tend. I would like to figure out a way to get more nature on to school grounds. My son's elementary is a dust bowl in the summer and a muddy bog of despair in the winter. I know it doesn't have to be that way.

NoShitSherlock said...

In the spring the patch of grass I call my garden suddenly flourished a billion dandelions and as much as it pained my middle class ‘but what do the neighbours think’ microchip that got put in when I finally bought a house I couldn’t help but love looking out at those bright gaudy-ass puffs of fluff. Having said that your garden is effing gawjus.