A Turn About The Room: May 2011 Edition

It’s become a tradition with me since I started working from home to end my day in the warmer months with a walk around the yard. Poking my nose into flowers’ blooms. Checking on shoots who show signs of faltering. Cheering on buds whose time has not yet come.

In short, it’s a walk-about. And it helps clear my brain of the cobwebs that build up after too many hours of making out with the internet like it’s going out of style.

But today is the first day of the long Memorial Day weekend, a weekend when most god-fearing Cape Codders know better than to venture out of their own little half-acres for the fear — for the certainty, really — of ending up in an unending hell of traffic, tourists, and bad manners.

So instead, we go shopping a few days before the hordes descend, stock up on whatever we might need for the days to come — oh, say until next Tuesday — and hunker down in our own neighborhoods and on our own dirt roads, waiting for the crowds from the city and suburbs to ebb once more and leave us to our business.

So I walk around my yard, to mark the end of the day, the beginning of the holiday weekend, and the official start of summer on old Cape Cod.

Just outside the back door is the adorable little shed that my dad’s best friend built years ago. I am currently doing my best to cover it in clematis, and the effort seems to be paying off. Lots of little buds, many tightly clustered tendrils, and a very healthy attachment to the trellis I kept propped up through many a winter storm this year. They’ll burst out into great, fat purple blooms come July or so.


Just to the right of the shed is this beauty, planted almost 50 years ago by my grandmother, when she lived in this house.


I hear that she was worried this kind of shrub wouldn’t thrive in the acidic soil we have in this part of town. Rest easy, Ella. I have to prune this beast back by a third each year just to be able to look out my front window and see beyond its thick, glossy leaves.


Well, the rhodies may not be in full bloom just yet, but GUESS WHO IS?


OMG. The lilacs I planted six whole years ago burst into bloom for the very first time this year, and I am in heaven. I grew up with lilacs surrounding us on all sides, and I was determined to grow them here if I could. Even in this crazy acidic soil that gets covered in pine needles every fall, and that my grandfather apparently felt the need to litter with as much construction refuse as he possibly could.

Even then. They bloomed! So happy. God, I wish you could smell them. It’s the best thing ever.

Purple blooms are kind of the theme in the yard at this point in the season, it seems. We’re simply filthy with wild lupines, for instance.


And I’d say that only about a third of the blooms have actually blossomed at this point. So there’s even more bleedin’ lupines in store.


Because as we all know, lupines fix bloody everything.

Lots of wild daisies this year, too. Last year it was black-eyed susans, this year it’s daisies. I love wildflower gardening. Brings back the element of surprise to one’s yard, don’t you think?


Today was the first day my beach roses saw fit to bloom, too! Everything is turning out so well.


These guys were another type of plant I was determined to have in my yard if I could. I bought five buckets of mangy looking beach roses (Rosa rugosa) at half price from the garden shop down the road in very, very late fall when we first moved in here nine years ago. And just as I had hoped they would, they are totally, utterly taking over the front of the yard.



They flank my driveway, and are in my direct line of sight from my office window in the front of the house. I watch them all day long out of the corner of my eye, swaying in the breeze coming off the river across the street. And in the late afternoon light, they glow like old stained glass.


Sprinkled in among the beach roses are daylilies. I got a grab bag a few years back of all sorts of different varieties, mostly in shades of red and yellow and orange. Some of them are frilly. Some are deep, dark scarlet. I am looking forward to seeing them again this year. And a friend just gave me some of her tigerlilies, which I plan to stick in the dirt in a prominent spot sometime this weekend.


The heather and heath is doing extraordinarily well this year, considering all the staggering about I did in there while Jane Eyre was in the theatre this winter, sliding and sobbing and falling in the rain.

OK, I didn’t really do all that. But I do like having a large patch of heather handy, just in case I need to.


One side of the yard contributes considerably less to the bloom quotient than the other side, and I don’t know why. But rather than focus on the flowers that I don’t see here every year, perhaps it’s best to focus on the fact that this frustrating lack of vegetation leaves the lovely peeling paint and lichen of the fence rail all the more exposed to view.


Ahem. Yes, I posted that specifically for the more avid peeling-paint-and-lichen fans of my acquaintance. Happy to help feed anyone’s fetish if I can.


Hey, we all have our little quirks and peculiarities. Lord knows I have mine.

Boy oh boy, do I have mine.

We’ve got just a crazy amount of mayflowers scattered throughout the more wooded side of the yard this year.


Or maybe I’m just venturing out early enough in the season this time around to see them.


No idea who invited these festive little guys to the party, but they’re loitering most insistently right by the front door. Somebody oughta let them in.


More deep purple, this time in the form of some intensely raucous Bachelor’s Buttons.


Makes me want to find a bachelor’s buttonhole every single time I look at them.

And on the other side of the door, of course, everything’s coming up Hostas.


There’s more to come, of course, this being merely May — and a cold and wet May it was, too.

Among the roll call of fellows yet to be heard from, there’s russian sage, echinacea, coreopsis, and a thick cluster of Shasta daisies that always seems to wait until July to get its act together. And I’m sure I’m forgetting a ton of other guests, invited and otherwise.

I don’t really put a whole lot into my garden, workwise, which is why I tend to stick to calling it a “yard” instead. You can see from these pictures that I blew off raking entirely this spring. I’m not ashamed to own up to it, either. Life’s too short to do yardwork, sometimes.

So no, I don’t put a whole lot of effort into my garden/yard. Mostly, I throw down a bunch of wildflower seeds each year and hope for the best. And I try to give any donated friends a good, loving home. But despite my shocking lack of investment in how it all turns out, I sure do get a whole ton of great dividends out of the end result.

This, my friends, is where I’ll be spending the greater part of my three-day weekend. I hope you find half as pleasant a patch of land to spread your toes in, too.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

4 Thoughts.

  1. What a lovely garden! So colorful and wild. The beach roses are just wonderful, and the lichen is beautiful. My mother’s yard is stuffed with violets and lily of the valley, with bleeding heart and iris here and there, and lots of apple blossoms. She used to have a field of lupines next to her old house, and I miss them so. One of my very favorite books as a child was about a woman who wanted to make the world a more beautiful place, and ended up sprinkling lupine seeds everywhere she went. Wonderful book.

  2. Yay! I love all of the flowering lovelies.
    Also, I fully support the Dennis Moore reference – that sketch cracks me up every time. :)

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