Sunday, January 28, 2007

8/14/06: Sweet Williams and "Hockey Pucks"

I sit here at my desk, munching on fresh Bing cherries and recovering from a little gardening in ninety-degree weather. My garden is in the August Doldrums: most blooms are spent and it's a struggle of Herculean proportions to keep a hint of green in the lawn, thanks to this arid region. Oh, some Augusts we receive the blessings of summer thunderstorms. Last August we received such an abundance of rain -- nearly six inches! -- that even the meadow which we overlook was tinged with green. But this August it's a mangy brown, pummeled by the horses, trailers, and trucks of last month's rodeo. It's simply UGLY.

The lawn has fared a little better, as long as I'm prepared to be shocked by the bimonthly water bill. It looked fairly green last month when I left for New York, but then I was gone for nearly two weeks, during which the construction of Keith's work shop started. And watering it wasn't on his "to-do" list. Therefore, I came home to a brownish mess, with one large formerly-green tree/bush hacked to pieces, and the dead pieces, stacked three to four feet high, now make up the main view from my living room. The corner of our lot has been cleared, with piles of sand and gravel ensconced under the side pine tree. LOVELY!

Then once I got home, we were evacuated before I could do anything to help my poor woebegone garden. First watered by T whilst I was in NY, then by Keith whilst we were at my parents' place during the evacuation, and with no discernable rain lately, the garden is definitely more doldrumish than it usually looks in August. So I just got done with deadheading roses and Sweet Williams and pincushion flowers, with ripping out dead lavender and snapdragons, with trimming back Sweet Williams and thyme.

I love common names for flowers. Sweet Williams -- what a wonderful name for that sweet plant that overwinters here so well, that has such cheery blooms of fuschia and pink and white, and that requires SO MUCH deadheading. Ah, but when kept up with, it blooms from spring to fall. Wonderful little things they are! My "hockey pucks" as Keith calls my hollyhocks, are nearly done. Most are slumped brownly against the fence, but a few still sport a pink or fuschia bloom at its seven-foot tip. I leave them all brown and yicky during the fall and winter, and they reseed themselves beautifully by the next spring. Sometimes they plant themselves in places a bit awkward, but I'm too much of a softie to remove them.

Johnny-Jump-Ups. Snapdragons. Pincushion flowers. Foxgloves. Bachelor Buttons. What wonderful common names these flowers have! Sometimes I think I choose them more for the names than for the flowers themselves. Well, not really -- but I do have a passion for old-fashioned flowers and their old-fashioned names. I trimmed back the lavender Pincushion flowers today, scattering their seed-laden, prickly heads (from which the common name cometh) against the fence, hoping for some new irruptions come spring. But right now, only a few coral roses peep in my kitchen window, a few "hockey pucks" sport tippy-top blooms, a few Pincushion flowers creep from underneath the encroaching rosemary, and a few orange California poppies sway in the light breeze. There isn't much left of my lush garden come each August. But in May or June ... that's when to come see my garden. And please do.

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