Surprise

The naked ladies are in bloom again! I always forget they’re here until giant pink flowers show up in the yard.

Just a humble, rural yard. With chicken wire.

This is the kind of thing I would never choose in a million years, for I am a boring gardener. Exhibit A is my fall bulb order, in progress.

sigh 🤍

But the naked ladies happened unexpectedly. One scorching afternoon, the mail lady rolled up with a heap of them drooping from the back of her truck. A neighbor gave them to her, would I take some, there were just so many. Yes, I would take some, what are they? I don’t know, she said. Okay! I planted them immediately and forgot all about it.

I was horrified and delighted when these emerged, as I have been each year since. They are just so…meaty in person. And big. And whoa pink. And blue, somehow? The blue thrills me. I absolutely love them.

oh my

Since the flowers went in the ground, Rose of Sharon shrubs (pictured in the background) marched across the back fence and have stayed. I don’t know where they came from, but there are a lot of them. (Please ignore the cicada-damaged leaves which are constantly falling everywhere.)

So, the backyard unintentionally got very pink. I’m still sold on my boring, very beautiful, white-flowering bulb order for the front yard, though.

And, oh! an update: the snake left the herb garden on its own! I was so excited about that. Now I’m in the process of fixing it so it’s perhaps less snake-friendly in the future, fingers crossed. It does still have bunnies (adorable) and poison ivy (not adorable)(just a little on the edges)(I hope). I’ve neglected it a little.

It’s difficult for me to get motivated to work in the yard before July. I can’t explain why this is so. Is it a secret I keep, even from myself, that I like the stifling heat and humidity? The surprisingly territorial green scarab-like creatures flying at my head? The possibility of snakes? This seems unlikely, but how else can I explain it?

I am working in the kitchen, trying to motivate myself to deal with the chaos outdoors, and, speaking of snakes, there’s one in the herb garden (not a euphemism).

Two old photos from my old camera. I need to remember I can produce something besides snakes. These are little bits I pulled from my tiny vegetable bed (truly tiny, about 2.5 feet square) a couple years ago.

Ronde de Nice squash, herbs (sage and mint), Meraviglia di Venezia beans.

More Ronde de Nice, some Dragon’s Egg cucumbers which are wonderfully prolific, and a little snip from the Magnolia Blossom Tendril peas. I couldn’t believe how late they kept going.

I need to expand the bed this year. The snakes are going to be angry.

Maybe lunch first.

Update: Ha! It has started to rain.

Three pleasures

Tea I save for this time of year, because now is when it tastes best.

The first of my beloved fritillaria meleagris, looks particularly fetching after a storm.

A spot in the neighborhood which feels enchanted.

Something about the trunk.

Slump

These winter months are somehow so tiring. I guess most of us feel that way.

I am proud of myself for managing anything. Have I filed some papers? Good work, me! Made dinner? I have now exceeded expectations!

It’s nice to sit and work on quiet projects. I have a shawl-wrap thing in progress. I nose through my stashes of fabric and yarn, thread and other small things, making plans. It’s a good time to look through what I’ve already made and enjoy it.

I’ve been wearing this sweater constantly. It was a second version of Junko Okamoto’s wonderful Teru pattern. I didn’t do the color work in the pattern, instead adding bits of color as I wanted to here and there.

The day I took this photo I wore it with one of a bunch of tunic tops I’ve made, I think they’re from the pattern book Adult Couture Dress & Smock Blouse by Ryoko Tsukiori. I did them years ago and I can’t remember for sure. Some of my books have very similar patterns so it gets confusing sometimes.

March is the time for blue poppies to bloom in the greenhouse at Longwood Gardens. My son and I took a detour one day to visit them, and that felt really nice.

This week, I summoned the courage to use the last of this favorite printed fabric. Gabrielle, in this photo, was not convinced it was a good idea. That’s okay, because it’s not her fabric.

Making the cuts with scissors is a commitment. I’m making a Nani Iro pattern, this one-size tunic-dress.

The one-size garment patterns from Japanese designers are very compelling, I think, and I find myself reaching for those garments the most lately. They’re comfortable without being gym clothes, the lines are interesting and I love the details.

Seed Time

This summer, there is a chance both my sons will be working full-time, which will leave me home alone. It has been almost seventeen years since I had that much time to myself. I am a little drunk on the possibilities at the moment. Also worried about being lonely, but trying not to think too much about that.

I’m planning my garden. It’s easy to buy all the seeds in a rush of enthusiasm during the winter, but I am working very hard to keep my expectations manageable.

I order from one vendor, Baker Creek, for simplicity’s sake. Their seeds have been the most reliable for me, and I like the selection.

Here are this year’s picks:

Pole Beans: I love to have a pole bean growing. They’re so pretty.   Blauhilde

Bush Beans:  I don’t love growing bush beans, but crave yellow beans and don’t like the looks of the ones in our supermarkets.  Meraviglia di Venezia 

Cucumbers: We eat so many cucumbers in the summer. On their own, in salads, pickled…I can be sure we’ll eat everything we grow. I’ve chosen two. Marketmore 76 Dragon’s Egg

Eggplant: We don’t eat much eggplant, but I’ve grown this variety before and it worked well in our yard. I’m planning to try some recipes with it. Rosa Bianca

Peas: I’ve been dreaming of these peas, and it’s almost time. Look at all the tendrils you can eat! They sound like the most delicious thing in the world to me right now.  Magnolia Blossom Tendril 

Hot Peppers: We love serranos and pickle them along with cucumbers and other vegetables, and also eat them fresh. I chose the Black Hungarian for excitement, and also because I don’t bother with bell peppers. I’ve never had much success with them, so I figured a mild hot pepper would be a good consolation prize. Serrano Black Hungarian

Summer Squash: I’ve intended to grow this zucchini for years. Last summer, I figured I’d skip growing zucchini since I could find locally-grown ones at the store. Can you believe they didn’t have any? I thought that was the weirdest thing.  Ronde de Nice

Tomatoes: My husband and I always get a little tomato-crazed. I need to calm down and choose only a few.

Green: We’ve grown these before, and they did well. They’re delicious. Green Zebra 

Pink:  This one will be new to us. German Pink

Black: I’m gambling on this one even though I did terribly with the regular pink Brandywine tomatoes. True Black Brandywine 

Blue: I’ve never grown a small tomato or a blue tomato, so I’m very excited to try these. Blue Cream Berries

That’s it! It’s not too much, I don’t think. We’ll see.