disgrace of the week

Believe it or not, here I am once again. Yes, Chess the purebred border collie. You may remember me from such first-rate posts as “Dumb Garden Pictures” and “Stinker’s Revenge”. I can’t believe how excellent those were. I’m filling in for the guy I live with since he doesn’t do much of anything these days. So it’s up to me to talk about what’s new in the garden.

It looks like there was a new litter of bunnies just a while ago. They sneak in through the chain link fence in back, and I don’t feel like doing anything about it. They can run faster than I can these days. The guy I live with thinks they’re pretty cute, and only yells at them if they hop into the main garden. Which is where this one is, but it’s obviously putting on the cute act, otherwise it would have gotten yelled at.


The gaillardias came back this year, in what passes for a lawn here. The guy I live with says this is a first. Gaillardia aristata, that is. He says they have to get their roots right in order to come back. I don’t understand this, but I don’t care much, either. The grass is Festuca thurberi, I think.


The Kentucky coffee tree had a rough winter. The guy I live with says this happened once before. He says, “What’s another dead tree in the garden?” I say it makes him look like a slob, at which point he says something completely incomprehensible about a writer named Gombrowicz whom he admired. (He mentioned Gombrowicz at least once before here, which was a good post because I got into the picture. I’ll go back to that part of the garden in a little while.) And he also says birds like to perch in the tops of dead trees.


I thought the big desert willow, Chilopsis linearis, was dead too, but the guy I live with says it does this every year, plays dead until it’s totally safe to come out of hiding, even though you can see that some parts decided not to come back. He says it will grow back completely, but last winter was really hard on plants. Not because it got all that cold, but because it was so long.


The thing had no leaves at all on the first of June. Now it’s covered with flower buds.


There are five of these things in the garden, all of them much smaller than the big one, which is why we call the big one the big one. One died last winter (there were six then), and one still hasn’t leafed out (it’s the stick behind the gaillardias in the second picture), but the others leafed out in May. The guy I live with says the big one in the front yard was grown from seed of a plant which is like the northernmost specimen in the world, and so it’s smart and waits until the coast is clear before doing anything.

The desert willow needs to be pruned, now, too. I don’t do pruning.

Anyway, to get to my point, which I was going to do eventually, we were in the “way back”, the back part of the garden which you can’t see unless you go back there, which the guy I live with says is a metaphor, which it isn’t, of course, but the fact that you can’t see it unless you do go back there helps with the story, because look what’s growing in the garden back there. Like he walks back there every day and doesn’t notice something six feet tall and flowering.


If it looks like a giant weed to you, well, it really kind of is. It’s a Queen Anne’s lace, which seeded from the ten zillion plants growing along the creek. A six foot tall weed. I don’t know why it’s allowed to grow here, and even I know what’s going to happen if it’s allowed to set seed.

I think this qualifies for the Disgrace of the Week. Pretty funny, huh?


Until next time, then.



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10 Responses to disgrace of the week

  1. Cliff Booker says:

    Loved it!!!!

  2. Sharon says:

    An Angelica species?

  3. Julie says:

    Excellent post Chess, and possibly my favorite picture of you.

  4. pamit says:

    That looks more like western water hemlock than Queen Anne’s Lace. Are you sure? The height, branching habit and smooth stem make me think that.

    • paridevita says:

      Went to Weber; no, western water hemlock has lanceolate leaves. But …. Weber also says stems spotted with purple make it poison hemlock. Great. The plant is gone now, and I’m just waiting for symptoms of hemlock poisoning …

  5. vivianswift says:

    I found your blog by accident (I googled “miserable gardener” on a bad day at work…I am writing a book about gardens and, well, I wish this book would write itself) and have been dropping by every day this past week and I have to tell you that I think your blog is wonderful. Any chance Chess might be interested in a ghost writing gig?

    • paridevita says:

      Thank you. Well, I can edit posts, like I did here. I rarely do this, but did it just to show I can.
      Book writing isn’t a huge amount of fun according to the guy I live with, who wrote three, and spent hours researching them, but still made mistakes. My mommy said that’s what you get from thinking you’re perfect, but one of them had such a huge mistake in it he wanted to move to Mexico and never be heard from again.
      I wouldn’t want to be a ghost writer and then make a mistake and have to move to Mexico and never be heard from again. The guy I live with would be sad.

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