08 May 2007

shooting fish in a barrel . . . er . . . daffodils in a bucket?

This was definitely peak weekend for most of the daffodils. Don't they look like they're enjoying the view? I waited until the sun was low in the western sky on Saturday before venturing forth with the camera. Getting a pretty picture of a flower with this nice light behind it is like shooting fish in a barrel; it is almost too easy.

Over the past few years we've been buying daffodils 100 at a time from WFF. G&N had, of course, planted loads of bulbs before we ever got in on the game, so now we're enjoying the impact of our combined efforts. I'd like to begin bringing in some later-blooming varieties so that we can extend the show by a few more weeks. I think Narcissus poeticus are later blooming, right? Hmmmm. And they smell great, too.

On Sunday afternoon, we cut a bunch of daffodils to take back with us to NYC. Last night, Alan came over for a visit and left with a coffee can full of flowers. He took just a few at first, and I said "Take more!" and so he took a few more, and B said, "Don't you like our daffodils?" and he took some more, and finally we just pointed out the ones we thought he should take. He left with a nice bunch, and we still are lousy with daffodils . . .

By the time B and I get back to Pleasant Hill on Friday, most of the ones that are so beautiful now will be drying up, and the leaves will be busy photosynthesizing . . . And that's the only downside of daffodils: enduring the ripening foliage, which tends to hang around until mid-July or so. But they are beautiful.

Here's a picture of the larch at the bottom of the driveway. He's needling out prettily, isn't he? This is our third larch tree in that spot (number 1 met with an untimely weed-whacked end; number 2 died of thirst; number 3 is a charm, we hope).

When I was in high school, I did lawnwork for a retired engineer who was one of the most interesting people I've ever met. I worked for Mr. Robinson through middle and high school; mowed his lawn and weeded his gardens in the spring, summer, and fall, and then shoveled his sidewalks and driveway in the winter. He had very specific ideas as to how he wanted things done. When I planted his dahlia tubers, I was instructed to dig a hole, mix in a spadeful of compost and a sprinkle of bonemeal, and then set the tubers on top. His wildflower garden, he told me, had been laid out "mathematically." I don't know whether he meant he had planted wildflowers in a certain pattern, or whether he had decided upon a particular mathematical shape for that portion of his yard. He had a compost pile that I turned for him on the first of June, the first of July, and the first of August. His perennial border radiated from a metal stake set at the back of it to which he attached a chain that he used to delineate arcs. One arc for phlox, one arc for cut-and-come-again zinnias, one arc for petunias, and so forth.

He also had a larch tree at the turnaround in his driveway. That tree made quite an impression on me. It looked like a pine tree out of a storybook. Straight and tall with drooping branches and fine needles that turned gold in the fall. When B and I landed in Salem, the first tree we planted was larch number 1. Number 3 (ahem) has made it through one full year. I hope he continues to prosper.

And finally, the hydrangea at the end of the peony bed. It's been so overgrown! I love hydrangeas as much as the next guy, but this one was a little out of control. I discovered last year that it was spreading by underground suckers and gradually nudging out the irises growing next to it. So I started at the bottom and worked my way around and up, pruning back the suckers and cutting away all the dead wood. I've had some bad pruning experiences in the past, so I was a little nervous, but I think I did a pretty good job! I can't wait to see how it leafs out.

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