a moment of fear

Hello everyone; once again it is I, Chess the purebred border collie, here to thrill you and amaze you with the latest news from our garden. You may remember me from such thrilling and amazing posts as “Invasion Of The Pods” and “The Happy Elephant”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose. I just felt like looking serious; you know, sometimes the way you do. 14042307I’m doing fine, thanks, and I get to stay on the Rimadyl, which means that the guy I live with is going to have a hard time keeping up with me on my walks, though I do need to lose a whole bunch of weight. Someone else does too.

Well, I should probably explain the title of today’s post. The guy I live with had to go out and get pills, for both of us, but at different places of course, and then he came back, and said today was going to be devoted to gardening. Most days are, but our modern lifestyle was slightly disrupted with me having to go get blood drawn, and I figured that his declaration that this was going to be a day for gardening meant that we’d be doing hardly anything at all, which is what we both like.

The guy I live with was doing something in the front yard, I forget what, when the mailman pulled up, and stopped at the driveway, and gave him a box, the sight of which alarmed him to no end. 14042308What if someone had sent this to him, to decorate the front yard? Would he have to send a thank-you note, with a picture of the thing all set up, telling the person who sent it how much he enjoyed it and what uses he was putting it to, like when he was a little kid? (“Thank you for the Erector Set. I am building an exact replica of the Brooklyn Bridge, but, of course, much smaller.”)

It turned out to be a box with cactus in it. The guy I live with was greatly relieved. “Whew”, he said.

So that was the big thing that happened today.

I’m supposed to show some “obligatory plant pictures”, just so that people know this is a blog about gardening, and not about getting funny things in the mail. Okay, here we go.

Here’s the native bluebell, Mertensia lanceolata, again. It’s having a really good year. 14042304This funny-looking thing is the foliage of Allium pskemense. I think I spelled that right. 14042306Bellevalia forniculata again. Now called Pseudomuscari forniculatum. The guy I live with grew this from Archibald seed many years ago, and it’s still here. 14042312

Tulipa ferganica

Tulipa ferganica




Tulipa butkovii

Tulipa butkovii


Fritillaria crassifolia subsp. kurdica, two color forms.

Fritillaria crassifolia subsp. kurdica, two color forms.

See, that wasn’t so bad. The guy I live with gets to show off the bulbs and stuff, and I get to show the funny box that came in the mail, plus a couple of pictures of me looking serious.

Oh, and it’s raining. Not just sprinkling, but raining. It’s been raining now for about three hours, and there was thunder earlier, which the guy I live with said I didn’t even notice, so I must be getting more evolved, or something. He also says there’s a night crawler moving along the patio at top speed. I don’t much care for night crawlers; even their name is spooky. The guy I live with says there are no earthworms native to Colorado and so they must have crawled their way, at night of course, all the way here from wherever. I’ll have to watch out for them at Tinkle Time, which is one reason when we go out, right before bed, that the guy I live with carries a flashlight.

Now I have a slight case of the creeps, and so I better let you go.14042313


Until next time, then.


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12 Responses to a moment of fear

  1. You’re darn right that package is alarming. If it was addressed to me, and real, I think I’d move. But surely you, Chess, and the guy you live with know nobody who would send such a thing to you two.
    The bluebells are so sweet, very tempting. If there is a color hotness scale for tulips, I’m certain your specimens would blow right past and way beyond the high end.
    Your portraits, Chess, in general and especially tonight are every bit as good as David Bailey’s recent birthday photo of the Queen. You are royal incarnate.

    • paridevita says:

      It’s true, we wouldn’t expect a package like that sent to us, but when my mommy was here, she and the guy I live with often contemplated giving people presents of yard flamingoes and things like that. There were a couple of plastic hummingbirds here, whose wings whirled in the wind, until eventually they broke, much to the guy I live with’s relief. And the plastic turtles that bobbed up and down. The red tulip is the one that’s written about in Janis Ruksans’ Buried Treasures, where he had to cross a river on a wire, to get to the tulip. Maybe I do look rather royal. Hopefully the guy I live with will clear a path for me, in suitably royal fashion, when I go out later tonight, so I don’t step on any night crawlers. Ick.

  2. Peter/Outlaw says:

    Chess, you are, as always, a delight! Your facility with botanical Latin is enviable. The four Pomeranians for whom I garden and who allow me to live in their home are purebreds like yourself but don’t seem interested in the least with learning plant names. You’re truly an outstanding plantsdog! One should always lift his leg on packages that look like that.

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks. I try my best with the plant names, but I admit I do have help sometimes. The only other time I can recall a moment of panic like the one today was when the guy I live with heard that his neighbor was planning to put up a white vinyl picket fence along the property line. You’ve never seen anyone apply for a fence permit faster. He put up a wooden fence, and that was that.

  3. Vivian Swift says:

    Ah, Chess. You look so Parisian in that last picture. You look says, Quelle betise! Can’t you see I’m busy composing a sonnet??

    Oooooo. I love those blue flowers. The bluebell ones even have a pastel mauve bud — that is a very sentimental color combo. And the former Bellevalia forniculata reminds me of two things: One, that’s the exact color of the icing on my yearly blue birthday cake, and Two, back in the mid-1990s I heard a report on NPR covering a once-in-a-decade international meeting of botanists who gather to debate and re-classify one or two meaningless [to me] plants. At the time I thought that was hilarious, the idea of grown scholars fiddling around with what to call a banana tree when Earth’s whole ecosystem was on fire. Now, of course, I am less likely to roll my eyes when I hear that a Bellevalia forniculata is now a Pseudomuscari forniculatum. These secular Latin speakers are the heroes who are going to save the world from monoculture.

    About the cactus in a box: was it an indestructible 360-degree cactus, or did the mailman obey strict orders to keep This Side Up? (I think I already know the answer.)

    • paridevita says:

      Mais oui. The guy I live with knows, or knew before he entered his Declining Years (and not in the Latin sense), quite a bit of French poetry (“Jadis, si je me souviens bien, ma vie était un festin où s’ouvraient tous les coeurs, où tous les vins coulaient …”), though he knows more in German, and felt compelled to translate it, which is one reason why I had to take over the blog. We definitely don’t want to get the guy I live with going on “botanical Latin” and stuff like that. He gets into heated arguments with people who think words which could never have existed in Latin or Greek should be pronounced as though they were words in those languages. (He has the OED on his side.) And also about some of the name changes, which have made nonsense of the original meanings of the names. (To give just an example, they changed the spelling of Penstemon tubaeflorus, “trumpet flower”, to tubiflorus, “tube flower” because the letter I is used as the connective between two Latin words, even though botanical ‘Latin’ is a product of ‘New Latin’ and does not have the same rules as Classical Latin, and so, well, whew.) When the bellevalia first bloomed, and we still call it that, it was very cool. It’s almost always an amazing experience when something grown from seed first blooms here, especially something which came from a far away place. The box had a bunch of joints in it. Both kinds are legal here, says the guy I live with, but we mean cactus joints, wrapped in newspaper. That’s the way you usually get them. Then he gets to root them, which is done simply by putting the callused end of the joint, or stem if you wish, into a pot filled with sandy stuff, and then he waits.

  4. Deborah S. Farrell says:

    I would like to get a lighted bird (stork? heron? ibis? flamingo?) in the mail — as long as it was solar-powered. Plants are good, too (& they are solar powered). In fact, I got the box with the 3 Corydalis elata (and other plants) in it in the mail today. It was just a regular brown corregated cardboard box. It didn’t scare me at all. The came while I was at the nursery, shopping for blue flowers & buying a couple of rocks (very special ones). All that good stuff, and then reading this wonderful entry while eating hummus with locally made lavosh crackers. When I checked the bluebird nest this morning, the mama was incubating (4 eggs). I’m in heaven. Blue heaven.

    • paridevita says:

      Hummus was my Uncle Pooka’s favorite food. The guy I live with used to make it all the time. Not any more, though, and I don’t think I’ve ever had it. It would be cool to have bluebirds nesting. We heard the first hummingbird today and so a feeder has already been cleaned, filled with sugar water, and hanging in the Russian hawthorn, near the hummingbird swing.

  5. Vivian Swift says:

    I just got my used library copy of The American Woman’s Garden and immediately turned to page 137. Yes, I can see how that would inspire a Colorado xeriscape. And I think you’re more than halfway there. But the garden in the American Woman’s Garden violates my Garden Rule #12: No Japanese stone lanterns, ever. Except in Japan, in a real Japanese garden.

    I love the book, though — thank you so much for mentioning it. The authors, Vervy and Samuels, might be the tiniest little bit patronizing, but the way they let the gardeners speak for themselves about their gardens is so worth reading. And so far, I haven’t come across atone describing their garden as “magical”. The use of “magical” violates my Garden Rule #1: No use of the word “magical” to describe any aspect of the act or content of gardens and gardening. Just don’t do it.

    • paridevita says:

      The guy I live with would remark that the Japanese influence is, or at least was, very strong in West-Coast gardens, and so maybe it’s okay to have a stone lantern. There’s a metal one here. It just sits on the ground and illuminates nothing. (That’s a metaphor.) The American Man’s Garden is good too. (The English ones feature possibly too many gardens, but are still worth looking at.) Another big book with even more pictures is Christopher Lloyd’s Flower Garden (published by Dorling Kindersley and not to be confused with Christopher Lloyd’s Garden Flowers.) It’s almost magical.

  6. Vivian Swift says:

    OK, I’m sold on the Christopher Lloyd book. Since I am convinced that garden writers overuse the word “magical” to the point that is doesn’t mean anything more than “pretty” (or, as I suspect, to cover up for a lack of skill), I must see what a Miserable Gardener would bravely consider to be on the “magical” continuum. But before I buy The American Man’s Garden: does it have any Long Island gardens? Because the Woman’s Garden book had one L.I. garden and it was one that I’d never heard of, gardened by a woman I’d ever heard of, and I spent a very happy afternoon yesterday Googling the Lovetts of Locust Valley. Robert Lovett is my new hero, and his wife Adele gets props for trying to convince the readers of the American Woman’s Garden that she is a thrifty housewife. They don’t make Long Island millionaires like that anymore.

    For a non-gardener with a gardening passing fancy, I have already accumulated an alarming number of gardening books, 52 at last count. Sure, they’re tax-deductible, but I’m beginning to feel like a hoarder. So before I buy The American Man’s Garden, I need to know if any of my neighbors are (is?) in it. My fingers are crossed for John P. Humes of Locust Valley.

    Thank you.

    • paridevita says:

      There’s a garden in Sagaponack, had to look that up, and one in Larchmont, which the guy I live with says is not on Long Island because he was there in either 1957 or 1958, and also went to the beach nearby, where he was told there were crabs scuttling across the ocean floor, at which point, not wanting to be J. Alfred Prufrock and being totally creeped out, he refused to go in the water. He was little, and irrational. The guy I live with would also point out that The American Man’s Garden is available from ABEBooks for the price of one dollar (US). As is Christopher Lloyd’s Flower Garden. The former book does feature the Evergreen, Colorado, garden of the late Andrew Pierce, who was one of the nicest people the guy I live with ever encountered, though I think I never met him. (My grandpa Flurry told stories of the people he met, but that was when my mommy was still here, and since she left us, we haven’t had so many visitors.) But the point here is that Andrew’s garden wasn’t a millionaire’s garden. The guy I live with said that he read or heard somewhere recently that most Americans think they can relate to millionaires, in some mystical, oh, even magical way, because most Americans think they have a chance to become a millionaire, somehow. So maybe that’s why there’s so much focus on their gardens. Things are much different here. The guy I live with’s belt broke this morning (something I never worry about), and now he has no way to hold up his pants. He considered using Twist-Ems, but decided against it.

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