Monthly Archives: May 2008

While the gardener’s away, hot pepper holds the fort–mostly.

Pasque_flr_quark_3 Strike up the band, folks–my pasque flower appears to have surived Quark’s depredations, duly recorded in an earlier post. Here are the before and after photos:Pasque_flr_recovering

In reviewing the suggestions so kindly offered by visitors, I considered three criteria:

Will it cost any money?
Will it take any time?
Will I have to show my face in a public place from which word might reach my boss that I’d been doing something other than editing the article I  owe him?

Taking into consideration the above criteria, the committee (of one) that convened to review the relevant data zeroed in a single idea. Brenda, of A Journey of Grace and Whimsey (what a great title!) suggested laying "something picky" on the beds, so instead of putting all my raspberry cuttings out on the alley for the spring (read mid-summer) pickup (I shouldn’t complain, it’s a great service), I laid a few across my patio planters, thusly:Patio_barrels

So far, only one hole’s been dug in that lovely dirt since the committee submitted its report.

They look so messy, though, I find myself reluctant to use them on other beds, and I worry what would happen to the lettuce as I lift them away.

I’ve also picked up an idea from somewhere–I don’t remember where–which was to sprinkle hot pepper on the ground. So I’ve done that too, with mixed results. As Brenda said, Dumb kitty.

Quark_takes_a_pee Yes, he’s doing just what it looks like he’s doing. I never see his sister, Muon, digging (or peeing) in the garden. Of course, that might be because he really is just dumber than her, and she doesn’t get caught. Certainly she doesn’t cause any trouble.

Bowing to the Inevitable

All evidence to the contrary, I do have a garden.  

Circle_garden_2 This is what we generally call the Circle, I’m not sure why. (Actuallly, it looks sort of square here, which is weird.)

When we moved in seven years ago, there was a  circular hole in the cement of our patio. Herbs, I thought, since the Circle is about two steps from the French doors to the dining-room/kitchen area. Yes, and some perennials for color. Restock with annuals every year? Forget it.

The first time I took a shovel to this dirt, I just about gave up the plan to plant anything at all. It was almost solid, knit together with a mat of finely meshed roots. I dug through it all, mixed in plenty of compost, and set out the first plants. Well and good.

That fall, I decided to add more compost, and being still under the impression that all amendments must be dug in, I got out the shovel, set it to the dirt, and found–the same thing I’d encountered that spring.Circle_flowers1_2

This went on for a couple of years. (I’m a slow learner.) Then, I noticed that although some things never did well in the Circle, others thrived. C_white_anemone I could put pansies from the same box, on the same day, into the Circle and into the border by the lawn, no more than five feet away, and the former would languish while the latter would grow to the size of small bushes.

My little spring bulbs, however–snowdrops, grape hyacinth, miniature iris–did just fine, and I neverCliff_anemone_stem_2 heard a peep out of the delphinium. Anemone flourished, as did the tiny red-flowered native cliff anemone.And the herbs–oregano, sage, thyme–kept us supplied all year long.

Clearly, it was time to throw in the trowel. So I did. Anything that wanted to live there, I decided, would have to make it on its own. It would get no help from me. Since then, the only digging I’ve done there has been to make holes for new plants.Cliff_anemone_flr_cu_2

And how did you spend YOUR morning? (A Nightmare, revised)

I had good intentions.

Yes, and now you’re halfway down the road to hell.

I just wanted to check one thing!

That’s how it starts. And what was so important it couldn’t wait till after you’d worked on your article?

I just wanted to figure out which zany blogger had said she wanted to “pull a Thomas Pynchon,” or was it “do a Thomas Pynchon”? Anyone who used a phrase like that, I wanted to know better.

So, you sacrificed your work to your social life, did you? In fact, to the possibility of an on-line, a virtual relationship—You read her blog, she reads your blog–or not. Touching. And what would it mean, anyway, to—how did you put it?—to“pull a Thomas Pynchon?” Who is he, anyway?

He’s a famous writer—

I never heard of him.

Yes, well. Anyway, he’s also famous for being invisible. He not only never holds an interview, but he actually disappeared years ago. No one knows where he lives. So to “pull a Thomas Pynchon—“

Yes, I understand.

So it took a while, but I found who said it; it’s Jane Perrone, who writes the Horticultural blog, amongst other gardening stuff.

Do go on.

Continue reading

Creative (?) chaos–

I hope that no-one who visited my blog today has epilepsy, because the screen rarely stayed still for more than five minutes. It was my introduction to playing with the site’s format, courtesy of husband Steve, computing wizard extraordinaire. Since he uses Word Press (not Typepad), and someone else set up the site, and I’ve never done anything involving html beyond learning to put my responses to comments into italics–a great victory–there was a lot of trial and error, and a fair amount of  "Well, let’s see what this looks like," and two minutes later, "Definitely not." Also a couple of "Don’t hit that key!–Uh oh" moments, and at least one "Well, it looks like you killed it" situation.

So I just wanted to let my loyal readers out there know that if things seemed a little weird, well, they were. Maybe tomorrow I’ll actually manage the post on lawns I’d planned for today. Or maybe not.

The Blessed Rain

It’s been raining pretty much full-time for three days now, sometimes lightly, often steadily, and occasionally with a vengeance. Once or twice there’s been a smattering of hail. And it’s not about to stop; forecasts give it another three or four days before there’s even a hint of sun. I know this is the rainy time of year around here; and I know it’s good for the land, the farmers, etc. etc., but at times I find myself thinking, Enough, already!

Last week we had a couple of glorious days when temperatures were in the high seventies. Lovely! Now, along with endless rain, we have chilly weather: highs in the fifties, lows in the thirties and forties. (All Fahrenheit, of course.) It’s the end of May; I long for warm weather.

Still, living for the first time in a dry land, I cannot forget the value of water. Some seasons I check the rain index on the back of the newspaper’s first section every day, comparing what’s fallen this month to the month’s norm, then looking at the numbers for the year, what’s fallen and what’s normal. That’s four numbers for Bozeman. Then I check the numbers for Belgrade, fifteen miles west. Fifteen miles away and about five inches drier, because it’s out in the wide valley, while we’re tucked right up against the foothills of the Bridger mountains, where the clouds dump their loads of moisture before rising over the peaks and moving east.

Like much of the west throughout North America, we’ve had years of drought. My little corner has been luckier than most, but the threat of drought is still real. We watch the precipitation levels, and the river-flow levels, and we watch the snow-pack, because the snow-pack feeds the rivers, and the rivers feed the land, and the land feeds us.

If the snow-pack is low, that means a dry year. If a surge of hot weather comes early and melts the snow too quickly, that means floods. If the hot weather holds, melting the entire snow-pack by the end of June, that means floods and a dry year.

Winter banks our summer’s water in the snow-pack; we need a slow, frugal spring, releasing that wealth gradually. If it rushes from the mountains, it is gone, like money flung to the winds.

So I cannot entirely begrudge the rain, and the cold, which I know means that what falls as rain here falls as snow higher up.

Then too, when the clouds part and the mountains come briefly into view, streaked with white nearly to their knees, that’s a loveliness not to be disputed or denied.