Thursday, June 17, 2010

On Reinventing the Rose

I am once again weak at the knees over something I shouldn't be planting...OH, but it's so tempting! And, of course, it will probably prove to be impossible for me  to resist...

There's this rose, see. Rosanna. She's supposed to climb ten or so feet high (and grow about as wide) and bloom all summer with massive clusters of lightly scented salmony pink flowers.

Not only that, according to an article in today's Washington Post by gardening editor Adrian Higgins, Rosanna is one of a new variety of rose: hardy, disease free, ever blooming, and -- most importantly -- not chemical dependent.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Swords into Plowshares III

Let's re-revisit this sign post
and yes, there is a signpost under that explosion of vinery; a No Parking signpost that was last summer smothered in heavenly blue morning glories (which is what they're called as well as what they are), and a beautiful sight it was.

The theory (I imagine, because I've never tripped over whoever lives here, and sometimes that's what it takes to get me to talk, not type) was to hide a sign that created a blight upon the sidewalk in front of a delightful house.

I commiserated in my quiet, modest way. We too have a signpost outside of our house. It arrived one whimsical day when the city decided it was tired of our letters complaining about meter persons that were incorrectly ticketing our car for parking too close to the alley. Since we have measured and remeasured over the 20-some years that we've lived here we know to the tenth of an inch how close we can go -- but not so those in charge of parking enforcement.  So, because they apparently can't be trained, we have been visited with...ugliness. Damn sign doesn't even stand up straight. Bah.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Aging Beauty of Alium

Elizabeth and I were strolling along the other day chatting about this and that nothing when she abruptly threw out an arm to stop me and pointed down at this sputnik growth alongside a garden path -- "I want alium next year," she announced.

At first I didn't recognize it, it was kind of like looking at a high school mate 30 years later -- there's something about you but...

And then I did.

I grew a herd of alium sometime early in my gardening career (can you call something you do so haphazardly a career?) and recalled being enchanted by the fuzzy purple popsicle heads that sproinged about the garden, but was put off in subsequent years by the price of the bulbs. I mean, these are spring thingies, they do nothing all summer, right? They come up and, bam, they're over.

The purple fluff falls off and what's left are these gnarly witchy fingers. But I didn't appreciate the skeletal back then, the way the remains of something have a curious beauty. It's not just the fresh and young and perky that have a lock on fabulousness.

I did have an early introduction to this  idea, even if it took several decades to take root.

Maybe 20-years ago I picked up "Drawing on the Left Side of Your Brain," and spent several weeks sketching. A fascinating book for those whose representational skills stalled out at age 8, or so. Which is (for some reason) most of us. Turns out it's all about not really seeing what's in front of your face. You're looking right at a chair or a chin and not able to get your pen around the contours.

And then you pick up the book and do a couple of exercises maybe you're not Picasso, but you've actually produced something recognizable, something with depth, proportion, something that comes perilously close to -- art. Whoa.

I was lying in a bubble bath drawing my foot on the facuet, sitting in the front porch rocker sketching our big elm tree, hovering over Monica sketching her sleeping, thumb-sucking baby face.

And the more I did the more interested I became in out of kilter shapes and, most particularly, odd looking people. My eye flitted right past the pretty to itch at the thought of getting a bulbous nose on paper, corrugated foreheads, wattley chins, jutting bones and opposing hollows...the old were particularly enchanting, with all their parts coming unmoored in such interesting ways.

This went on for some weeks. 

Now, every once in a while I pick up one of the sketches and am briefly impressed with myself -- and then I recall that I put the book aside and returned to drawing very much as I did in Mrs. Turtletaub's third grade art glass. It's so much easier. I am such a disappointment to me sometimes (I am shaking my head).

So the alium has reminded me of all this and and seeing the spiky remains beside the garden path made me determined to damn the expense and plant them again next year.

Oh, Clever Me!

This is not how this urn is supposed to look. The plant in the center of the urn is supposed to stand upright and bushy (and covered with pretty little orange flowers but, eh, can't have everything).

So -- Alert! -- actual successful gardening tip coming. But first I will point out that this is supposed to be cleaning day. I had reserved it as such. Two articles were completed and turned in to editors last week and there's a void until tomorrow and a photo session with a house about to go on the market. So yesterday while floating around my pool draped over a hot pink noodle [note: this is only my pool in the sense that I paid a couple of hundred bucks for the prince and  I to belong for the summer] I was getting all energized about Waxing the Floors and Washing the Kitchen Wallpaper.

And then, perversely, this morning arrives and I have zero desire to clean anything. I am, in fact, in full step over the crap on the floor mode.  My blog has been languishing and NOW is the time to do something about it so here I be. Lucky you.

This plant in the urn was the subject of a spring soliloquy on pruning, which i did not do. The result is this leggy thing that just...drips.If it gets hit with rain it goes entirely splat and tangles with the ground cover. This was not the effect I was going for.

Ugly Garden II

Where does one start with this?

Clearly, someone had a thought. A patio? Perhaps a plaza? There's a centerpiece of raised bricks, a surround for a dramatic focal point. In this case an artificial shrub. I cannot tell what material it is -- it's kind of paperish, with a little sheen. But its importance to the tableau is indicated by the brick pedestal on which it sits and underscored by the gaily striped chain that fends off prospective thieves. Slightly northeast of the urn is a gray plastic elephant sitting back on its haunches. It appears to be braying. This is possibly the home of republicans.

I like the pink ball pushed back under the front porch. In design circles this is known as a group of three and provides an imbalanced balance, you see. No?

In one of life's happy little coincidences, the neighbors have installed lush, green carpeting up their front steps. The result being that if you're standing in front of these two house, you just don't know what to look away from first.

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