Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Outdoor Bliss

{flower photos by erik}
I’m sore.  Walking around the house just now, it feels as if my hamstrings are bulging out the backs of my legs, like a weight-lifter who failed to give proper attention to the opposing muscle group and now has an awkward gait.  My legs really don’t want to bend, but when they do there’s this sensation of sand or gravel in my knees.  Today I feel twice my age. 
Ah, the aftermath of a long day in the garden.
Sometimes I can’t garden in short amounts of time.  My former landlord used to insist that the proper way to maintain a garden was to weed for 20 minutes after work each evening.  No, sometimes I must have the stretch of a full day to really find my rhythm.  This weekend, things finally felt like they were coming together after much time spent planning and researching and even making a spreadsheet of all the plants I was considering for the next phase of our landscaping project.   At last, a little woodland garden is taking shape under the Japanese Snowbell in our front yard.
BTW, did I ever show you how amazing that tree was covered in a veil of pure-white blooms a month or so ago?  It was like watching a nature documentary from the comfort of our porch.
Our container water garden is also now about where I want it … after several different attempts at rearranging the plants and the stones.  The trickle of the water is just loud enough that you can hear it from the sidewalk.  I smile whenever I see passersby turn an ear toward the garden.
Even our porch got a little love over the weekend.  After perusing Martyn Cox’s book Big Gardens in Small Spaces, I was inspired to pay better attention to my potted plants.  Normally this is where the annuals go for a bit of extra color, but since our porch steps are rather shady, I went on Mr. Martyn’s suggestion to put some of my favorite perennials here in pots.  I’m especially liking the effect of the tender groundcovers, like Baby’s Tears and Sandwort, and the gentle green texture they add.
We’ve also got a friend in the garden -- a somewhat mangy-looking young crow.  Not mangy in a diseased way, so perhaps shabby is a better word to describe him.  He's a bit like the Velveteen Rabbit or one of Ann Wood’s creations, sewn from a vintage wool coat with some frayed feathers from an old duster stuck here and there.  We see him with his mother off and on, but it seems she mostly leaves him to fend for himself now.  He squawks something terrible when she’s nearby, sticking his still-pink mouth in her face, begging for food.  She does not oblige.  Needless to say, the poor guy hasn’t quite figured it all out yet and is surprisingly unafraid of humans.  
{pen & ink sketch, but not my original composition.  It was drawn from an antique children's book on animals & nature}
In fact, if I may anthropomorphize here for just a second, he seems quite content ambling through the garden at less than an arms-distance away from us, occasionally making an awkward hop from ground to birdbath to tree limb, often with one of his emphatic little squawks.  Tonight he was snoozing on a low branch in the Snowbell while Erik worked just beneath him on the irrigation system.   
Well, the tight leg muscles and creaky knees seem worth it now that I’m able to survey our hard work from the porch.  Besides, what a great excuse to take a long, hot bath before bed.

Hope you enjoyed some outdoor bliss in whatever form over the weekend!