Common Ground – June 2022

“Nihil volentibus arduum.”

(To the willing nothing is difficult.)

 Old sundial motto.

It was probably unwise for a gardener to travel in the middle of May but travel I did. I was away for a week in Palm Springs and finally got to see the desert. It was hard to leave the daffodils in their full glory. It was also hard to leave the asparagus just as it was starting.

The desert is beautiful, of course, and it was a revelation to finally get to see it. My trip was originally scheduled for March of 2020 but we know what happened then. The less said about that the better.

When I left home, the trees were just starting to leaf out and there was a full canopy by the time I got back. And there were lots of surprises in the garden, too. A week is a long time in springtime.

The horse chestnut that used to be overshadowed by a giant ash tree is flowering and now has more breathing room. I miss the ash trees but they needed to go.

An ornamental rhubarb that I planted several years ago has finally flowered. I came home to its very dramatic bright pink flowers on a plant that’s almost as tall as I am. I guess patience is truly a virtue as this was worth waiting for. One of my cat sitters knew that rhubarb flowers were supposed to be removed. But fortunately she stopped herself from trimming this one.

Tree lilies that I planted last spring have finally reappeared. These are the ones that appear in the catalogue beside beautiful blond children. Who could resist that? I started them early last spring in pots and they were at least eighteen inches high when I planted them. Then they were hit by the late frost of last spring. They disappeared at that point and I assumed, wrongly as it turned out, that they were gone. Once again patience is a virtue.

I should have known about the unpredictability of lilies. I have planted species lilies that took three years to come up. And they seem to mysteriously move around.

Being late to cut the lawn this year, I discovered that some species lilies had moved out into the edge of the lawn. And some English primroses also moved into the lawn. I wouldn’t have seen either one of them had the lawn been cut earlier. So there is obviously something to be said for later lawn cutting.

My three species Acuminata or flame tulips were just in bud when I left. Fortunately I didn’t miss these as they were still blooming when I got back. They were safe in the vegetable garden and escaped excavation by the squirrels.

In the vegetable garden I was happy to see that my asparagus rehabilitation has been successful. At one point I tried to fill in the spaces in the asparagus bed with a fancy new purple variety. But not a single one of these survived. Then I got a better idea and filled in the spaces with seedlings that seem to pop up everywhere. Asparagus seeds everywhere and I dug up seedlings from the lawn and flower beds. All of these seedlings survived being moved so there is a lesson there. Sometimes the solution is in your own backyard.

In the beaver kingdom nothing dramatic happened while I was away. The water level below the big pond has dropped a little which means that another dam further downstream has probably been abandoned. Beavers are on the move all the time. I know after many years of observation that the big pond will disappear at some point and then return in a few year’s time.

Finally, Mrs Phoebe is back on her nest on the side porch. I was concerned that there were no phoebes nesting here last spring so it’s good to see them back again.

By Jill Williams

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