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.
"CAN I COME IN YOUR BACK YARD NOW?"
"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.