Thursday, July 06, 2006

oo what a lovely garden

Before I start to work in my garden I do 'rounds', assessing and admiring and generally looking like a vagrant nutjob or a fashion photographer as I comment and kneel and stand and judge and adjust. Not that my garden is a setpiece, oh lordy no. I just want to enjoy it for a little while in depth, you know, before I fuck it all up. That's what I was doing up until just a little while ago, and now I must brag. I cannot stop this urge. It is uncontrollable.

My garden is BEEYOOOOOOOTIFUL, dahling!

Where a huge Lombardy poplar stood dividing my driveway there is now a circular area of blue and pink linnarea and cornflower mixed in with periwinkle and the odd lychnis coronaria. This not only serves to hide the stump* but it works as my trap crop by keeping the neiborhood kids from coming into my yard to pick the flowers. That, I planned, and it works like a dream. There's nothing growing there that they could possibly damage, and so when I do accidentally bust one with a fistfull of blooms, I can smile and be the nice neiborhood lady and help them cut a few more, instead of being the mean neiborhood lady chasing them and yelling.

This area grew up like a monster this year. So did everything else in the front yard, now that it's free of the shade and the poplar roots sucking away all the good from the soil. Poplar roots are rather alarming in their ability to wick damp-I've cut them in half in years past, and the far side just kept on drawing, leaking a thin skim milk trickle continuously into the hole (until I got ooked out and flipped a handful of dirt over it.)

The first large bed in my yard is devoted to red flowers. This is sheer exuberance on my part. My house is a light blue grey and so red has no business being anywhere near it, but dammit, there are just so many great red flowers! So I put them where they wouldn't foreground the view of the house continuously. At least that was the plan, and we all agree that it worked really well, don't we. Yes we do.

This bed actually pulls a great magic trick every year-due to no planning on my part whatsoever, to be quite honest-it goes from blue to red in a period of 4 days time with almost no overlap. April and May see it cool with aquilegia, veronica and periwinkle, viola and blue-toned pinks and chilly jade foliage. June pulls the hemerocallis and the papaveracaea up from the ground like silk scarves out of a magicians sleeve and all the blue petals blow away.

I played around with crossing my papaver the last couple of years trying to make a silk vermilion nudicaule using Flanders poppies as the 'male'. What I ended up with is a vermilion nudicaule with a sienna pollen. (I think it was me. I'm pretty sure it was me. Who knows what the sneaky bees have been up to.) But it's in the place where I planted the crossed seed, so maybe. Very pretty and a good middle ground between the clarion orange of the californicas and the hard reds thrown up by some of the nudicaule.

Ok, lets translate that. I used a Flanders poppy, which is small and orangey-red and has a single row of petals, and pollenated a red Iceland poppy with it, one that was as close to orange as I could find in my garden. Icelands have a larger blossom and more petals, and the petals are of a beautiful, 'crumpled silk' texture. I actually opened a bud that was ready to pop, immediately dabbled the center with my Flanders poppy, and then isolated the Iceland blossom with a little bag made of a nylon stocking so nobody else would visit. When that blossom ripened a seed capsule I planted those seeds in a cleared and marked spot. And it worked!

I have a variety of poppies. They are so generous. I grow one Orientalis; a dwarfed orange with a black throat that for all its' modesty-for an oriental poppy, that is- still wants to take over the earth. It is a perennial, and it will easily outlive me as the Orientale commonly reach the three digit years.

All the rest I grow are annuals. Clear lemon Welsh poppies for the spring with their herbal looking foliage, Californians for the sheer love of everything about them, Himalayans on occasion, Flanders, Icelands, and Somniferums.

I have a time with the somniferums. The things come up everywhere-even in my houseplants!
Some are an ill, washy, liver-and-lights pink, some are lavender. Most are dreamy rich pink like a raspberry milkshake. Some are single and tiny, and some are so huge and fat and doubled that they resemble silk ribbon pompons. These fell themselves, being so greedy. Some are a peculiar color-I call it 'heart patients' lips purple'-and these are the ones that bleed milk at the slightest scratch. The seed capsules look like tethered Perispheres or upside down jade Montgolfier balloons bobbing above the garden...Kind of a faery, bubbly effect that I like against the whipcracks of the serpentine garlic I let go nuts in my front border.

Yes, you can get nice and ripped on raw opium grown right in your own garden. Ignore the' only the scarlet ones; only in a hot climate' bullshit. You can grow it right in your own back yard; hell, you can grow it on top of your car; the shit's profligate. You can also subsequently experience the perfect joy of a perfect and instantaneous constipation, one which will magically transform the contents of your bowels into perfectly hardened oatmeal made with epoxy glue. Lacking opium poppies, you can easily duplicate this effect at home in your spare time by packing a burlap sack up your ass as far as you can reach with a broomhandle. Skip it. Get drunk instead.

And in fact I like to garden with a beer or three going. It is important to stay hydrated when engaging in summer outdoor activities. Wandering around the flowers with a can of lager and a rose shears; speaking of looking like a vagrant nutjob, hell, I fit in perfectly. Sumas, I am home.

* We cheerfully await the day when somebody decides to whip a bitch through the flowerbed ha ha! oh, how incredibly funny! And gets their undercarriage high centered on the hidden stump. Oh come on, baby! Yeah!

oh allright fine. here is a picture taken last year of me and the goonybird in the strawberry patch. as fast as i'm picking them, he is eating them. this is in the backyard and there are yellow columbines and serpentine garlic coming up through the strawberry plants.


  1. Living in a top floor flat, I can only enviously stare at the gardens of my neighbours.

    I do like the idea of gardening with beer though.

  2. i think i love you. will you be my mother? mine is horrible - you seem much more my speed.

    *vows not to be so creepy in future*

  3. Anonymous7:47 PM

    Nah. It's not creepy. I want her to be my mother too. In fact, I think I want her to go beat the crap out of my mother and then usurp the title.

    BTW - Is it true that wrapping copper wire around the basil pots will keep the snails away? Cause those bastards are eating away at my pesto material at an alarming rate.

  4. billy: oh darling, grow houseplants. it is so easy and they give back so much.
    beer -the essential liquid gardening tool.
    surly: hell, i finally got the house emptied out AGAIN! well, ok. but you'll have to share a room with beast and he vaccuums a lot.
    (when were you creepy?)
    louise: now come on! this aint dirty deeds done dirt cheap inc!
    copper wire-i've heard it works, never tried it. i use the 'sharp rose shears' method which never fails!

  5. Gardening with beer is something my husband might just take up! Your garden sounds lovely! I think some pictures might be in order! *hint, hint*

  6. Heh. Opium nothin'. My Da can grow maru- mara- weed... Before we left he planted a load of seeds in next door but ones (not friends). Laugh.

  7. A pox on all of you FN is far too young to be your mother.

    Another lovely post FN. Please, please, please put down for a digital camera for Crimbo pressie this year - Id love to see pics of your garden. Unless its an Alice in Wonderland fantasy caused by eating opium and is really full of old tyres and pick up trucks & bottles hanging in trees.

  8. mizB: i will endeavor to comply!
    noshit: we live far too close to an international border for my 'herb garden' fantasies to be realized. still, im overrun with a plant that produces a schedule A narcotic. go figure.
    ratty: thank you my darling. and yes, you are correct, it is all a pipe dream...
    truth be told? thats what the place looked like under the last owners. yes, this was, in fact, a crack house. no shit. they made it in what is now my garden shed nad parked wrecked cars in the front yard.

  9. I used to have a backyard full of poppies so I know of your "poppy love."

  10. Oooooh! I LOVE IT! Gracias!

  11. Anonymous12:16 PM

    *Chuckling to self.*
    Partner has wondered if it takes me so long to garden because I spend half of the time admiring my own work.

    But it MUST be admired.

  12. FN why is surly girl trying on my pants ????

  13. Great, so now that you have the splendiforousness...come tear into my yard, yes? YES. I even promise I will water the plants.
    And you do need to post pictures. What happened to the ones Dad took in spring? I thought those were on the computer...?
    Feel better, invalid-Mama.

  14. mj: Oz has nothing on me!!!
    MizB: your servant!
    whinger: and the plants appreciate being told what a good job they're doing, don't they?
    beast:she likes lace too.
    neur: the ones dad took in spring are too far away; and nothing was really in bloom. i'm looking for those ones from a few years ago when everything was blazing.

  15. Tell me more about "nutjobs" from your opening line. Thanks.


  16. Well, I think those are in my possession. At least the doubles are. If you can get me a new cord for my scanner (Dad owes me, talk to him), I'd be happy to get those up to photobucket or something for you.

    I bought a shitload of yellow dahlias today. That, and two lavender plants. I need somewhere to put that budlia, asap. We'll talk tomorrow evening?

  17. You are indeed a green fingered(slightly inebriated) godess.
    As you have now adopted myself and Surly Girl , we will think its so unfair if you buy neurotica a new cord for her scanner. She always gets EVERYTHING
    **** flounces off in huff****

  18. Am terribly jealous of your gardening skills. It all sounds so wonderful and summery.
    I really, seriously tried to get something going this year, but after i loaded up the beds with bulbs, i kind of lost the drive.

    I need to fill in the gaps with annuals, but there's all that WEEDING, and ugh. So lazy.

  19. muuuum? mum! beast keeps leaving dirty socks on MY side of the room.

    see? this is all working out

  20. I admire your gardening prowess, but most importantly - where do I get one of those gooneybirds for the garden? In the gnome aisle?

    I feel like a gardening illiterate after this post. We do have gardens (and living in Queens, NYC) people often think city - nope. But we have some nice things growing (see how I'm skirting the name issue) annuals, perennials - yup. Might even get a picture up one of these days.
    Even have our veg/herb garden...

    Speedy recovery - get lots of rest!