My age is showing, I’m certain, when I say that a significant amount of my time is spent at the kitchen table (a new one, thanks to the pandemic) reading the newspaper (a sure sign of an old timer, it seems), or looking out into the garden. I will readily admit that my reading time has diminished as I tire of the same virus related stories day after day, but there’s always something of interest peering out into the garden in late spring.
Always, there are birds, and usually there are squirrels, and no matter that my wife detests the long tailed rodents, she must admire their daredevil acrobatics as they leap between branches, from tree to tree. And, when the simpler route would be to scamper down the rock paths.
Yesterday, the neighbor’s ducks stopped by for a visit, their initial discovery of our rear garden and koi pond. We are dog people, though it’s been years since our dogs have gone, so I enlisted the assistance of our neighbor in guiding his feathered friends back to their pen. They’re welcome anytime, I can’t see what they could harm, and now that they know there’s a vast new world on the far side of the hedge, I’m sure they’ll be back.
The garden is in the transition from spring into summer, and following a mild winter and early spring the hydrangeas are putting on a show. While blue flowered mopheads (Hydrangea macrophylla) are most popular outside this garden, I favor Oakleafs (Hydrangea quercifolia, below) above all others, and again these are splendid.
A few less than common favorites are flowering, though these hardly make the show of the large flowered hydrangeas. Over several years, and several tries, I’ve discovered the ideal placement for Indian pinks (Spigelia marilandica, below), I think. Growth and flowering are robust, and while others didn’t fail, they slowly faded in a part day’s sun. No matter that the Indian pinks are not showy from a distance. In addition to sitting at the kitchen table, I spend most of my off work hours outdoors, plucking weeds a little at a time while I roam the garden. If the neighbors can’t enjoy these, I will.
Unfortunately, the most vigorous of three clumps of Peltoboykinia watanabei (no common name because it’s not common) perished this winter, not from the cold, but I believe it was inadvertently stomped to death while I removed a nearby, fading Alaskan cedar. I tried to avoid it, but it was dormant, and while wrestling to drop the tall cedar at a precise angle so as not to destroy everything in its path, I’m afraid my favored little peltoboykinia was crushed. I watched for it while two others emerged, but no luck, and one of the two remaining that was not doing well has been transplanted into the vicinity of the one that was lost.
A bit further down the path is a nearly white leafed ‘Spider’s Web’ fatsia with green veining. This is its third spring, and the first winter was spent in a leaf filled cage to protect this marginally cold hardy evergreen. This winter, with temperatures no lower than twelve degrees (Fahrenheit), and only several under twenty, I held off on the leaves and baskets, but was ready to jump in if a cold night was forecast. It wasn’t.
The fatsias’ new growth emerged precisely to coincide with two nights in mid May that dropped below freezing. I expected the worst, but nothing happened, no damage. And while I expect that the mostly white leaves will fade to green with tracings of white, in prior years the leaves were much greener. The fatsias are a bit beyond my view from the kitchen window, just beyond the bend in the stone path, but they’re part of the reason to get up from the table to get outdoors.