Abuzz and aflutter

My mind or the garden?

Both, actually.

First my mind. Abuzz, aflutter, and aterriblethingtowaste, as evidenced by the mail I found stuffed alongside the food processor in the little closet where I keep small appliances. Naturally, it included something relatively important along with the junk: my office phone bill, now 4 days overdue.

This was more puzzling than finding the cereal in the refrigerator or the cheese in the cupboard. Whatever possessed me, probably 2 weeks ago, to stick the mail on a closet shelf? Good thing I had that hankering for hummus this morning. (And good thing the mortgage bill is delivered online with auto-reminders set on stun.)

Now, the garden — no mystery here. Just a much nicer kind of buzzing, fluttering, hot summer activity. Lots to see in only a few minutes of observation.

It’s good to know that while my mind may be slightly off-kilter, the butterflies, moths, and bees are right on track.

The universe is full of magical things
patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.

~ Eden Philpotts

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Hot, tired, sweaty…and so sweet

“June has been more like August,” she writes, as the air conditioner kicks on for the 15th time this morning and the thermometer heads toward 87 with 11,000% humidity.

Sounds like the makings of a great story, huh?

Better than: “We’ve mulched our brains out the past few weeks — first a truckload of smelly, magical mushroom manure and then 4 truckloads of dark, delicious, wonderfully woodsy mulch.”

Both are true. I hope I burned a lot of calories, at least, because there wasn’t much time for regular walks or other workouts. (There was, however, plenty of time for burgers, wings, beer at the bar, and DQ Blizzards.)

It’s probably the most fun we have working all year. We love working outside and transforming the garden — the biggest project we’ve done with no “before” pictures to show our progress. But we know, and that’s all that matters.

Have a look — 5 years, 70 shrubs, and at least 150 perennials after we started, it’s starting to look like a real garden.

A few add-ons and highlights this year…

Mike created this holder for my upside-down tomato buckets from leftover wood from the swingset we dismantled a few years back (it still needs a coat of stain).  Wouldn’t you know, though, all the tomatoes (yours too) are in peril from the tomato blight again this year. Our neighbor reported that while she was off work last week (she’s a garden center manager at Wal-Mart), the store had to destroy all of its tomato plants because they had blight. She sprayed her plants yesterday (that’s her awesome veggie garden in the background of the driveway border, 3 pix up). I”m still trying to decide what to do. I’d hate to lose all this hard work.

We also went a little crazy at the concrete statuary store — nice items at nice prices.

I love Gregory, our new gargoyle, and his new pedestal, which is filling the gap between the mountain laurel and the azalea where the burning bush up and died a couple years ago. (Mike thinks the pedestal needs something bigger. I think the pedestal is fine, but maybe Gregory should sit sideways to show off his cute little butt!)

I also really liked The Frog Prince…so regal.

And I just couldn’t resist the Tweedles (Dee and Dum). (My sister said they looked like Jiminy Cricket or grasshoppers or something…sheesh.)

We’ve even had some pleasant surprises. I moved this hydrangea from the shade garden last fall after years of nothingness, and look…actual blooms! I’ve heard people say it’s been a great year for hydrangeas — guess they love all the rain and heat.

I can believe it, because this hydrangea appeared in back of our shed out of nowhere! I’m always thrilled with any volunteers, but we’ve never had anything like this.

Also, after having admired succulents in living wreaths and living walls for years, I tried my hand at planting some in our concrete planters. Very different from colorful annuals, and no telling how/if they’ll survive over the winter, but I really like them.

Finally, I always like a little “before and after.” Remember back in April when we worked hard to banish the heavy clay that turns the area next to the garage into the Dead Zone?

That was then…

This is now…

It’s amazing what 2 months — and Mother Nature — can do…plants and gardens are truly miracles.

Now (yawn!) we are feeling like resting on our laurels for a while — all we want to do is hang out, drink lattes and wine and margaritas and beer and… enjoy the (blurry) view. Of course, that doesn’t bode well for the REST of the house and projects in need of the same level of attention and TLC.

But those’ll have to wait. At least until the current bumper crop of blossoms goes by and the wilty summer doldrums set in. For now, I’m enjoying what has always been this chintz-lovin’-flower-fanatic-cottage-dwelling-wannabe’s biggest motivation to garden: being able to walk outside my door, wander around the yard a bit, and come back with this…for free!

I’d rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.
~ Emma Goldman

31derful days

Ah, October. Thirty-one glorious days that pass too fast.

…a blur of last-chance outdoor projects and garden rearranging

fencetostain
A new fence section to stain and the gate still to install
An exhausting move of two giant "dwarf" weigela who outgrew their old home and will now anchor a new bed-to-be in the front yard (assuming they live, which Mike will kill me if they don't)

An exhausting move of two giant "dwarf" weigela who outgrew their old home and will now anchor a new bed-to-be in the front yard (assuming they live, which Mike will kill me if they don't)

The endless fire pit rebuild, with the newly moved and now spindly Mighty Big Pink hibiscus in the background.
The endless fire pit rebuild, with the newly moved and now spindly Mighty Big Pink hibiscus in the background

…long walks taking in the leaves and sky, the mums and pumpkins, a monkey ball or two

outthewindow

Mums're the word of the month

Jack

monkeyballs

…a Saturday day trip (instead of working)

OK, so it wasn't the Macy's parade, but the 50th annual Ft. Ligonier Days parade was a real slice of America.

OK, so it wasn't the Macy's parade, but the 50th annual Ft. Ligonier Days parade was 2 hours of pure Americana -- and packed

…8 birthdays of friends and family (plus my own), and our wedding anniversary

One of life's happiest inventions: cards!

…rediscovering the harvest and Halloween decorations tucked away since last year

tableau

Boo

buddies

…gifts from generous neighbors to see to

apeckofpeppers

A lot going on, and all of it good. The annual deep breath before the holidays (Christmas again? already?), and the glowing finale before weather worries, bleakness, and hibernation set in.

Ah, October.

Even the azalea is cheering it on this year.

azalea in October

Bittersweet October.
The mellow, messy, leaf-kicking, perfect pause
between the opposing miseries of summer and winter.
~ Carol Bishop Hipps

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