Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Lift Up Thine Eyes!

You see it all the time in Europe, but too rarely here, roofs and porch tops lined with tubs and pots, all dripping with greens and flowers to soften the building edges. 

Plenty of our office buildings could use such treatment.

There's a large and boring red brick office building on Capitol Hill that happens to have a fourth floor balcony that runs rectangularly across the front. Its only decoration is a flag hoisted at one corner, that gives a jaunty billow whenever there's a breeze. But when there's a breeze here it's generally accompanied by rain, or a soon to be rain, so the potential observer is most likely jaunting off for cover.

I notice the flag perhaps twice a year, though I pass it most every day.

This is the first time I've ever thought about it, I think. Certainly it's the first time I've ever written about it--or, for that matter, the building, which, to move this right along, would look lovely with boxes along the edge of the balcony, spewing a profusion of something, anything, green.

And maybe a flower or two?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Branching Out 2

Yes, I know I said I was content with the dogwood branches I found on the sidewalk and the cherry branches pruned from our tree; that I was over buying the curly willow...I really didn't need it, didn't have room for it, and then...and then...

I went to the DC Home & Garden Show at the armory on Saturday and what a sad event that was; with a motley crew of vendors pathetically trolling for attention. If they'd had crooks they'd have grabbed we few attendees by the necks.

One only needs so many pots and pans and the brass tree fountains made me want to pee.

The saving grace was a stand with, yes! Curly willow branches. And for only $12, versus (what was it?) around twice that at Eastern Market.

Tip Toe Through the Tiny Garden

I am not the twee type. I do not like cute, and am not given to cooing, even when I say I am (it's just me trying to prove to you that I'm really a very pleasant person, if you dig around enough).

You won't, for instance, find me hanging over a cradle--unless the kid is a little funny looking. Not plug ugly, like a tarantula or vinyl siding. But endearingly offish, like a pug.

But I do like little gardens. Particularly creating them. Maybe it's because I have the attention span of a gnat. If it's small enough, a garden can be planted out on a Saturday, leaving ample time for margaritas.

Maybe because they're manageable. Even when neglected for years they can be easily, quickly revived. And, since the space is so tight, you can afford to be pretty lavish with the plant selection.  

Yesterday, on my way to CVS to inspect the shampoos, I came across a small garden of interest, not that it looks terribly splendid in this photo. But keep in mind that it has only been a matter of days since the last of the snow melted, and many gardens are still bedraggled and muddy.  

Thursday, March 11, 2010

To Prune Or Not To Prune. Oy the Angst

Here's the kind of tzimmes I find myself in as Spring approaches:

There are certain plants that passed the winter in a sorry state, spindly and barely clinging to life. So bad did they look that I kept them nestled against healthier specimens, like the set of sticks with bitty leaves that you can barely make out in the photo at left.

Friend Maggie gave me that plant last year, when she and Gary came to our Passover Seder (which we do because we slapped two religions together to make a family and therefore we celebrate everything...or at least everything pleasurable).

So this plant was a lovely little bushy thing and I did have its name tag with it for months and months and then lost it...so I have no recollection of what it's called but I do remember that the tag said it was a favorite in Victorian conservatories. I also recall that the plant had small but sprightly orange flowers -- or it did when I received it.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Ready or Not...

The prince has this idea that I should start gardening, or creating gardens, since it appears I'm alive and will probably remain so for at least the near future. To that end he's signed us up for some minor league expo at Eastern Market that's being sponsored by Frager's, our local hardware and garden emporium.

I was not asked my opinion of this.

Waiting for Kismet

During a get the hell out of the house and stop looking at the computer tour of Georgetown the other day, I was smacked in the eye with this set of curtains, displayed in the upstairs windows of the design shop, Random Harvest. 
While at first glance they might appear to have nothing whatever to do with gardens ... look closely and the pattern is a free-fall blizzard of flowers. Like a bride's bouquet untied and on the fly and absolutely gorgoeus with late the afternoon sun streaming through and dappling the table top. 

A charming way to soften a less than charming view.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Branching Out

Despite various urgings, I didn't buy the curly willow I saw at Eastern Market on Thursday.

Instead I've spent the past two days wandering around feeling alternately smug and extremely virtuous about not blowing money on something inedible and impermanent and pissed at myself for being so practical and cheap.

This was a pissy morning, but sunny and warmish, so I went schlumping out, plugged into my ipod, to practice not smoking. When feeling sorry for myself I generally feel it is best to really pile it on.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

What Ho! It's Curly Willow!

Today's constitutional, designed to keep me in robust physical and mental health, brought me as always to Marvelous Market, where I sat on a bistro chair for an hour and by turns tried to figure out something to write and glared at a baby in a stroller to see if I could alarm him (I assume it was a him since he was wearing a blue onesy).

I was not successful at either thing. Blather blat blat blat went my pen in my fat pink CVS spiral notebook and no matter how formidable I tried to look, whenever it was that I looked up, the baby just stared at me  and then offered a big mouthed yawn as his mother finally wheeled him away. There is something very askew with my ability to terrify.

Blat blat blat I wrote that down then packed myself up and crossed the street to examine Eastern Market, as if I don't examine it nearly every day but Monday when it is closed.

Going Postal

Can you make out this abomination from the photo? I  upped the contrast as best I could, but if I find it hard to see I imagine you'll find it nearly impossible, which on the one hand is too bad because it is really ugly, and on the other just as well, because it is really ugly. 

The ugly this I am referring to is a blockade the prince erected to thwart the postal persons who have worn a path across the ivy-covered front yard so he or she doesn't have to walk down the front walk, down the sidewalk and up the neighbor's front walk to deliver what's left of the daily mail -- usually a real estate postcard and  a WETA fund raising letter.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Rite of Spring

The pansies are lying limp-dicked in the window boxes, a situation that created a not small amount of tension between me and the prince last night.

We were sitting on the sofa watching the boys perform on American Idol, (also the source of several other arguments though we'll scarcely touch on them here) when during one of the interminable commercial breaks, he announced that Frager's, our local hardware store, had just received a shipment of spring plants. And not just Frager's, Home Depot had them in as well.

This is an annual announcement that I dread, because it heralds the beginning of the six weeks that preseed (oooh I like that spelling error!) the last frost date.

It's a period, like that between Thanksgiving and Christmas, when the stores are prematurely anticipating warmth and flowers and BBQ's and swimming and we're still huddled in down jackets half the time and hunting twigs from the streets to supplement the dwindled supply of firewood.

And each year my chosen one buys it, choosing to believe them over me. Oh bad move. So he will have to be carefully watched because it is now that he gets puffed with inspiration and starts meddling in my sandbox, moving the tropical plants out before it's safe and nudging me to get the still half-frozen garden ready for the mosquitoes. We now commence a period of intense and near constant aggravation when he will be frequently courting death.

So we begin.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Pulling Free

Yesterday had me yanking and clipping dead stuff from the top of the fence on the alley side of the backyard.

Twenty seven years ago, when the prince and I bought this house, I planted a honeysuckle vine dead center on the 15 foot wall. It quickly grew to dance along the top, spreading seven feet here, seven feet there, merging with the ivy that grew upward from the wall's base.

Meanwhile, the wisteria planted in the far right corner and intended to soften the flat line of the garage roof  lost its sense of direction and began a stealthy creep under the branches of the honeysuckle. And somewhere along the way a seed from a white flower vine impregnated the soil ( I'm sure i never planted it. Or am I?) It too has grown up to merge with the honeysuckle and the ivy and the wisteria.

Lacing it all together is a climbing red rose of dubious pedigree that snaked its prickly way through the tangle of vines. It gasps and heaves each spring, tossing a flailing cane 20 feet up and out over the alley and flowers fabulously for a couple of weeks if it's cool enough, ten days if it's not. Then it succombs to black spot and waves its octopus arms and laughs at at me from its untouchable height.

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