temperatures soar; humans hibernate

peonies bursting

It is day three of a four-day heatwave.

I have found myself scurrying out to the garden first thing in the morning, and while the sun-heat is wicked, it holds no comparison to the humidity, which is the real challenge in summer spring. (Wisconsin is a humid continental climate, seeing both hot and cold extremes annually.) The last few days, it is so warm that, as happens many years, some of the roads literally explode and buckle from the heat, unable to fully expand within the surface of the pavement.

The steamy environment has pushed a few things along this week. For instance, I didn’t expect my peonies to burst until Friday-ish. Same with the mock-orange dogwood. Special thanks to Margaret Roach, who featured Philadelphus coronarius on her blog yesterday and, without whom, I probably wouldn’t have had confirmation that the bush is, indeed, a treasure. Someone in this household hated it and might have almost hacked it to death a few years back. I’m so glad that it survived and, even more than that, flourished beyond its previous grandeur. (see: second-to-last photo)

Over the last few years, my hollyhock bed has gotten a little sick. It is now gone and will become a patio soon. Fortunately, one little hollyhock seed ended up in an herb bed and is growing marvelously. I am babying the heck out of it, keeping it healthy and hoping to have enough seed to start a new bed of them next spring from this single plant.

I will wander to the garden again at the end of the day to survey growth whilst covered in a friendly bug spray that doesn’t really seem to help much. On Thursday and Friday, it’s supposed to be back in the 60s.

hollyhock hope


Philadelphus coronarius

garden apprentice

constants - garden walk

baby cukes

I am sure that I am not the only gardener who, rain or shine, takes a morning garden walk.

Sometimes, it turns into an hour-long weeding session.

Cloudy, slightly damp days are my favorite. The weeds pull out easily. The soil is moist and soft. We harvested some French breakfast radishes this weekend. They didn’t make it into the house; My man ate them in the back yard. There have been no naughty bunnies so far. I think that it helps that I have planted onions everywhere.

Speaking of everywhere… chives. Whenever I try to take a photo of another herb in that raised bed, those purple beauties are smiling at the camera.


french breakfast radishes

lettuce and garlic and peas and onions

peas and onions

thyme... and chives

lavender... and chives

i'll take a rain check

rain check

Well, then. Okay.


I have been thusly informed by the rain that I shall not be gardening or priming cabinets today. Or tomorrow. Cleaning the house feels sort of like labor camp when it is the only option.

her departure says it all

morning garden walk


I like to watch the grackles puff up their feathers and walk funny to attract a mate. It gets me every time. It’s not quite as ostentatious as a bird of paradise, but amusing just the same.The grackles have been putting on quite a show here lately, even clumsily attempting their display from the tippy-top dead branches of the apple tree.

Today, I really need to outline my goals for the next month. I have been so focused on just a few very important things (garden, anyone?) that I didn’t realize, until everything had been checked off of my May list, that a vast cavern of abandoned caches occupies the rest of my mind. It is sort of like a disc that needs to be defragmented, this space of forgotten intentions. I will be doing that today — pulling together notes from my desk, computers, Pinterest, purse, journal, project books, and paper piles; consulting my date book for upcoming events of importance; daydreaming for a bit of inspiration; and (my favorite part) making plans. In my June future, I expect to see myself testing crochet patterns for autumn and practicing my embroidery stitches. There will be long days of priming and painting, followed by hours of standing with my hands on my hips and a smile on my face while I stare at the fresh spaces. There will be a birthday. The spring cleaning will get done.

Nearly every garden task has been completed. I have to say that I enjoy working in the yard with my man so very much. It seems like it is the most natural thing for us, a meeting of the minds followed by hard physical labor. He has also developed my penchant for obsessively checking the garden for new growth. I think that he is most keen on, and proud of, his asparagus bed. He picked out and bought the crowns, planned and executed the design, dug the trenches, and planted it all himself. I’m generally quite a control freak and I insist on being in charge of everything. This time, I wasn’t, and I’m glad.


early sunday evening

after the cake

after the cake

i can smell rain

unfurling hosta

It is Wednesday morning and I can smell the rain that will roll in later today. I am sitting at the desk in my studio and staring out a west window.

My poor, poor apple tree is in blossom. It has more dead branches than living, and it saves its energy all year long for this three-day slow-motion firework display. The lilacs will burst within the week. The chives will quickly follow. The hostas and ferns are unfurling, faster than I can divide and transplant them. The heirloom tomato and pepper transplants are sure to arrive by post today. I get them from Seed Savers and they are grown at a farm that is about a fifteen-minute drive from here. There is so much to do outside. I wish that I had half the energy of the bolting plants.

Spring has been exactly what it should be… unpredictable, cold, hot, beautiful, snowy, productive, uncooperative, windy, wet, green, and too fast.

asparagus and rhubarb bed

doubling the garden space

garlic and peas and lettuce and radishes

lettuce and radishes and turnips

garden ramble

spring sedum

I enjoy plotting my garden.

This year, I’ve been planning to add two additional raised beds to the five existing ones that my man built six years ago. I also have a mid-size southwest lawn-level garden, a small patch along the south edge of the shed, and peonies, ferns, and hostas along the north and east sides of our home.

I was about work in my studio on Monday when my husband called to tell me that he wants me to “plant stuff all along the south side of the house” and “find a new place for the rhubarb”. Well, turn me into a turtle and call me Sally. I was a jolly girl after that phone call. Note: He did also say “don’t plant anything new in the southeast bed or the patch by the shed because we’re doing work there this summer.”

(That means that we are moving the back door… to the BACK of the house. Finally. It is presently on the side of the house and it is awkward. We pretend that it doesn’t exist.)

On Tuesday after supper, we started cleaning up the beds, or at least as much as we can until the possibility of snow has passed (three more weeks) and the threat of freezing is gone (five more weeks). As we did, geese honked at us from overhead, letting us know that they are back for spring and “boy, is it hot down south.”

I have had really good luck overwintering herbs and perennial flowers that don’t always do so well year-round in Wisconsin. This may just be an ignorant opinion, but I think that it is partly due to the fact that I don’t really clean my perennial and herb beds in the autumn. I think that the old growth and other debris are crucial to their survival. It started out as laziness, but soon proved to be serendipitous. Anyhow, so, this week I snipped old growth right where the new leaves were coming in on my lavender, thyme, and sage. Other plants making huge spring debuts include hollyhocks, chives (hundreds!!), garlic (dozens!!), catnip (everywhere!!), echinacea, sedum, hostas, ferns, and more. The rhubarb is beyond-ready to be moved. Last week, when it was still lovely sprouts with a baby leaf on each, I counted 42 in just one cluster. I have three clusters. We will be moving those to a new 15′ x 4′ bed SOON as the leaves seem to be multiplying in a scary alien-type fashion.

Unfortunately, we are going to be out of town this weekend, so everything is on hold until next week (and/or over the course of the next two months). Everything except my brain… which is spending approximately 21.2048 hours in the garden each day.

compost[ some of our beautiful compost ]

through the looking grass

(Playing along with SouleMama’s this moment again.)

Whether you are in the States and having a long Memorial Day weekend, or just having a lovely ordinary weekend, what are your plans?  I hope that everyone has a beautiful and sweet and very, very safe couple of days.


yard journal :: 10 april 10


diana, rhubarb, and the family

[all photos snapped with Photojojo’s Dreamy Diana toy lens ]