Of Flowers and Felines

As I mentioned in my previous post, last summer we resurrected the garden in front of our house.  We replaced the weeds with daffodils, hyacinth, hydrangea, and dragon snaps.  It looks much better, but still a little bare–especially since most of the plants are spring-blooming.  So this summer we are focusing on filling in the gaps.

Impulse buy:  a miniature rose bush from Wal-Mart.

Impulse buy: a miniature rose bush at Wal-Mart for the front garden.

We are also reclaiming the garden on the rental side of the house.  It had some lilies and hostas to start with, but most of it was weeds and bamboo.  The bamboo has been the bane of Shaun’s existence since we moved in.  It grows really fast between mowing, and pulling it up by the roots seems to have no effect on its ability to re grow.  You can dig it out and walk away, but when you look back over your shoulder, there it is again…at least, that’s how it feels. Over the weekend Shaun declared war on the bamboo and launched an aggressive  weeding campaign to eliminate it from the side yard.  It looked great when he was done–and we are being careful not to look over our shoulders too quickly.

When I decided to start a garden last year, I was uncertain how well plants and I would get along.  My only experience was weeding my mom’s garden for a quarter when I was a kid, killing a couple of houseplants in El Paso, and gazing admiringly at beautiful, bountiful gardens while in England.  The demise of my houseplants in El Paso had me partially convinced that I was cursed with a brown-thumb.  So it was a pleasant surprise to discover that I not only enjoy gardening, but that plants actually will grow under my care.  It helps to be living in New York, where things are very likely to grow if you stick them in the ground and keep the weeds at bay.

image

My two best inspirations are close to home–the first is a Queen Anne-style house up the street, which boasts a front yard full of rambling flowers and a shady wrap-around porch lined with flower pots.  The other is right next door.  My neighbor has turned most of his yard into a flower garden, with a myriad of plants, flowers and shrubs, all layered together in beds and pots.  He has been very helpful as we tackle the various challenges in our yard, and has given us over half a dozen plants to get our garden off to a good start.  Free plants?  Yes, thank you!  From how he talks about gardening, I have come to realize that it really is an art form.  My neighbor talks about composition, texture and balance in a flower bed in the way my art professors talked about a sculpture or a painting.  And as with my first attempts at painting or drawing, my first attempts at arranging a garden are fumbling and awkward–but plants, as my neighbor reminds me, are a mobile medium–“if you don’t like where it is, just dig it up and move it.”  So what we may lack in knowledge or compositional grace we make up for with enthusiasm, and we dig right in.

The renewed garden on the rental side.  A work in progress.

The renewed garden on the rental side. A work in progress.

***

Over the weekend we had a great deal of help besides our neighbor’s–all of it four-legged.  Whenever we are outside the cats seem to congregate near us.  Whether this is because they are simply curious, or because they enjoy the pleasure of our company, or are hungry and want their dinner, I can’t really say.

Juniper was very intent on helping Shaun–mostly by lying down in the hole he had just dug for the flowers.

Juniper was very intent on helping Shaun--mostly by lying down in the hole he had just dug for the flowers.  Every good worker needs a good supervisor.

Every good worker needs a good supervisor.

"You need another hole.  Here, let me help you."

“You need to dig another hole. Here, let me help you.”

If Shaun is outside working, Sheena, our dog, is usually out there with him.

"I help, too!  I step on all the plants."

“I help, too! I step on all the plants.”

Spot seemed to develop a fascination with the fresh cedar mulch (perhaps it smells as nice to kitties as to people?), and kept returning to lie in this particular place in the garden.

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"You need a garden statue!  I volunteer!  I'm much cuter than those gnomes."

“You need a garden statue! I volunteer! I’m much cuter than those gnomes.”

On Sunday evening, we were all tired but happy.  Ginger expresses it best:

Belly rubs after a hard weekend catching those pesky moles.  Can you hear her purring?

Belly rubs after a hard weekend catching those pesky moles. Can you hear her purring?

***

One is nearer God’s heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.

~Dorothy Frances Gurney

 

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