Posts Tagged ‘going with the flow’

My Cat, She Has No Weekend Plans

My cat, she has no weekend plans
Each day begins as new
It starts whenever she awakes
It ends when she is through
She rises when she hears my sounds
She has but one suggestion
Feed me now, she cries aloud
Supply me my ingestion
Incessantly she pleads her case
As if it needed pleading
The same refrain throughout the day
"I think it's time for feeding"
She's never grateful or annoyed
A flare up quickly settles
She holds no grudge or looks that judge
She bothers not to meddle
The opportunity to be
A cat within the rat race
Would make her yawn, she'd just as soon
Scratch the nearest scratch place
My cat, she has no Facebook page
She hangs with who's around her
She naps or not or wakes or walks
Wherever she has found her
I make my plans for future days
She only makes a meow
Insisting in this moment
That I feed her and be here now

Garden Mind

Not this blue, really?

I got the White Flower Farm Spring 2012 catalog this week. It’s a page turner as usual, with saturated floral images of garden gems in perfect flower – where the reds are redder, the greens greener and the true blues truer than life. One day, there might be a garden catalog with wilted, spent flowers going to seed. Unlikely.

My garden overwinters – stark and dreary, especially without frost or snow cover. I hope it gets cold enough to kill the bad bugs; I hope there is enough snow cover, eventually, to supplement the good stuff (my brother told me snow is the poor man’s fertilizer). But, I digress. What is really at work is stillness. No growth, just the remnants of the garden being earth bound — skeletal, essential, and creating reserves for the proper blooming time.

What I have is garden mind.

Our garden (aka, “R” Garden) sits, while last year’s beauty decomposes into next year’s growth. I see the garden’s shape from our upstairs window – the straight and curvy lines, the beds, the flow from one section to another joined by lawn, paths, steps, and bridges. I like this flow and work to refine it in my mind: firm up that edge with a low border, trim that shrub to be a better neighbor, hack that pachysandra, reset those stones, et cetera. In a process of refinement, endless tweaking shapes the garden and morphs its profile. Its essential personality, established long ago, matures incrementally, bringing charm, whimsy and nature into harmony improved by age.

Of course it’s a living thing and changes occur, apparently spontaneously, as well. Like the clumping bamboo that finally, finally decided to become the screen I imagined ten years ago. Who knew it would take this long? I suppose that’s where annuals come in. They provide the instant gratification that delights the eye and other senses. Not much mystery but adornment galore and great expectations easily met. We enjoy the splash, the visual spice, and the abundance of blooms overlaying the perennial foundation.


The garden mind dwells on ideas and suffers no toil. No: weeding, spraying, mowing, aching backs or biting no-see-ums. It sees golden possibilities; it harbors hopes and plans — flights of fancy that could occupy the whole of next season. It’s a great place to visit.

Marcia Greenhouse Lady

I’ve tried all sorts of early planting tricks – sprouting seeds under my own grow lamp, shopping on-line, buying big box store seedlings and local nursery sprouts. Gardeners like me eventually realize that getting the darn things germinated and ready for planting is an art and a science in and of itself. My focus, as readers should know by now, is enjoying the garden and minimizing the hassle. (Some day, in my retirement, I will putter around aimlessly, joyfully, deliberately poking and prodding seeds and seedlings into their full stature — until then, I’m stuck with a work schedule that robs me of daylight.)

So, who you gonna call when you need healthy, happy, locavore plants that will thrive (guaranteed!) in your garden: Marcia – the Greenhouse Lady who runs “A Family Affair” nursery in Hanson, MA.

Marcia Baker started her greenhouse and nursery business with her father, a retired carpenter, in 1983, under the name “Greenhouse Club.”  Marcia says

I sought people who would pay a small fee to help me in the greenhouse in exchange for plants at a wholesale price.  Then, some of the girls wanted to start their own seeds and thus started the table rental program.

And thus was born her off-season business – winter greenhouse table rentals for gardening enthusiasts who haven’t the space or the infrastructure to support their habit.

She knew nothing about running a business  except that her retired father needed to be kept busy. In the early days, it truly was a family affair. They sold all sorts of stuff: mums, pumpkins, squash, consignment goods, wreaths, and Christmas trees. There were ups and downs. Eventually, Marcia shooed dad out of the way and focused on floral and vegetable items. Weddings, wisteria, galas, geraniums, ageratum to zucchini.

My brother, Chris, and his wife, Heidi, live across the street. Chris has succored his seedlings under Marcia’s roof for a while (10 years?). It sounded like a good way to chase off winter’s blues. I signed up. I failed to show up. The 40 minute trek after dark via back roads didn’t work for me. So, I switched horses in mid-stream and instead of growing my own, consigned my list of annual favorites to Marcia. Come spring, Marcia selects the adolescent plants, gives me a pickup date, and I show up, ready to transport them into my garden. She even helps you load up!

It’s the best of all worlds because I get hand-tended, hearty plants nurtured in my planting zone, tended by a caring person (ix-nay on ig-bay ox-bay ores-stay) and an email when they’re ready. This year I forgot and ordered some online plants (sweet potato vine) as well as ordering them through Marcia. Folks, the jury returned its verdict: the mail order batch is guilty of failure to thrive. Marcia’s stock? Full and bushy and beginning to trail (sorry I didn’t order more from her).

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In case you’re planning your plantings for next year with Marcia in mind, this may be her last season. After decades in the biz, she longs for her summers back to cruise and chill with recently retired hubby. Understandable but sad. Another local institution will fade when “A Family Affair” shutters its year ’round retail business. Marcia says she will always be available for special events. Floral arrangements and weddings are a specialty of hers.

But with heating oil at $600/month and table rentals pulling only $90 she knows her loyal, longstanding customers cannot absorb her higher costs. And then, there’s always the travel and family affairs she’s missed around Easter, Mother’s Day, and Memorial Day in order to support her business.

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It has been both a job and a passion for Marcia Baker. A Family Affair may be winding down (VISIT WHILE YOU CAN!) but it’s unlikely to fade away entirely. We are sorry to lose her, happy for her future endeavors.

Ajuga: weed of woe

I’ve never cared much about managing a lawn. The reward/effort ratio seems backwards to me. In fact, I harbor a conspiracy to reduce and replace grassy areas with (you guessed it) more garden. We on the home management committee periodically debate this topic.

Discovering the verdant pest

One spring, around ten years ago, I discovered a new member of lawn flora with a viney habit and spikes of small, blue flowers. Like everything else in the lawn, this was not my doing. It began to spread.

Spiky blue flowers of Bugleweed (ajuga reptans)

Spiky blue flowers of Bugleweed (ajuga reptans)

When I happened upon it in a plant catalog, my viney newcomer got a name: Bugleweed (ajuga reptans). This dainty looking plant is for sale!

Check out Dave’s Garden – people buy it, sell it, trade it and propagate it! Please don’t.

It continued to spread.

Consequences of ignorance

As I ignored it, the ajuga was emboldened to form denser patches, entirely displacing the turf in some spots. Still, lawn is lawn. What, me worry? But then it turned nasty. Its runners crossed the sacred boundary between lawn and garden and never looked back. It had my attention now. “Invasive” is too genteel a word for this mindless marauder.

Bugleweed (ajuga reptans) thrives in my lawn and garden

Bugleweed (ajuga reptans) thrives in my lawn and garden

The enemy within

De-ajuga-ing is an art form. You (easily) spot an invading runner and you very gently pull — it breaks if you tug too hard, which misses the whole point, and risks further colonization at the break point. Like a hydra.

So, you trace its path carefully and gently lift it from the soil and usually end up with a stringy yard or two (meters) of connected stems that extended from the original clump or runner.

I often let the weed pile sit on the patio til it bakes to death. Much safer than adding it to the compost pile uncooked.

If you don’t mind the Sisyphisian nature of it, this activity can continue for as long as you like because the stuff is everywhere. De-ajuga-ing can even be satisfying, the way most weeding can be. But don’t expect to eradicate it. Pure folly.

When I’m in the thick of gardening-in-the-moment (see Hyperfocusing…), I might just as easily be extracting ajuga runners as pruning, de-bugging, or planting.

Roses are red, violets are blue (or white)

I fondly remember spending my weeding time de-violet-ing. Those were simpler times. While I still pull the occasional violet clump, it’s like greeting an old friend with whom you once had a quarrel. Closer. Will I ever feel the same about ajuga? Heavens, what a thought.

Share a comment about your weed of woe!

Hyperfocusing, or My Aching Back

Energizer BunnyGardening "In the Zone". Hyperfocus is great for accomplishing tasks while displacing the cares of the world. I end up with pride of accomplishment and a self-induced worry-free reverie. But when the sun sets and I exit "the zone" I suddenly notice my aching back. Read the rest of this entry »