my strange little garden

Greetings and salutations everyone; yes, once again it is I, Chess the purebred border collie, here to bring you the latest and most up-to-date news from our garden as is caninely possible. You may remember me from such up-to-date posts as “Before Dawn” and “A Day At The Opera”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose.14050402Things are pretty excellent all around, in case you were wondering. The guy I live with has been working in the garden, a lot, and that usually means he’s been doing strange things in the garden.

You may have guessed by now that our garden isn’t much like almost anyone else’s, and, being a purebred border collie, I can understand and accept that, but some of the things that go on around here are fairly puzzling.

He says now he’s achieved “feng shui” with the stones under the pinyon. My mommy used to lecture him about having odd numbers of things, instead of even, and so now he has an odd number of stones under the pinyon, and for some incomprehensible reason this makes him fairly happy. I don’t get it at all. Maybe I’m not supposed to. I bet it’s “mystical” or something.

an odd number of stones

an odd number of stones

The flagstone in the front yard is finished, too, or at least so he says. He did pioneer the piling of rocks, stones, and flagstones on the ground to hide weeds, and so I’ll take his word for it. I know that there’s blue grama seed sowed between the flagstones and everywhere that you see compost. It might look like something, eventually.14050403You see the blue-flowered thing on the left there, well, that’s Amsonia jonesii.14050404If you think that’s blue, look at the picture of Penstemon arenicola that he took today. Now this is blue. Not perfectly in focus, maybe, but still blue. 14050407Even more grass seed sowing has been done in the back yard. The “way back” looks like it hurt itself and had to be bandaged. Kind of gross, if you ask me. The guy I live with says this is “the right way” to sow buffalograss seed. You can see the “gross” green grass right at the bottom of the picture there, and that’s what’s being removed. (You can also see that the buffalograss is coming up through the burlap.) Then farther on, under the apple tree, some sort of thing is being done; I’m not sure what.

For some dumb reason, he buried a piece of wood where he decided the buffalograss would stop, and last night, at Tinkle Time, I chased a cat there, and fell over the piece of wood, so the guy I live with took it out because he felt bad. I wasn’t hurt or anything, and I didn’t catch the cat. 14050405And there’s a long strip of burlap in front of what used to be the Long Border, but is now a rock garden. The burlap looks ridiculous, if you ask me. 14050406There was grass on the left of the long bandage, but “someone tinkled on it to death” over the winter. I can’t imagine who that was. The grass isn’t like a huge priority with the guy I live with, but he says he’s going to sow buffalo grass where the tinkled-on spots are. You can also see the “repulsively hideous cool-season grasses” here and there.

I told you this was strange, didn’t I? I’m kind of worried that the guy I live with might do something even weirder, though I know for sure he’s not going to put in a swimming pool or a garden railroad. There’s already a pile of gravel in the middle of the yard that doesn’t seem to have much point to it (except for a few cactus planted in it …), and you can see it right here.

I guess that’s all for today.14050408


Until next time, then.


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19 Responses to my strange little garden

  1. I have now seen, Chess, the fabled Page 137 of The American Woman’s Garden, and the stones are indeed wondrous in a subtle way. Seeing that page helps me understand what the guy you live with is after and I can read the arrangement better, although I think the season is some help to the eye in making pattern sense. Five stones under the pinion is just right, along with three pots. And the blue of Penstemon arenicola is gorgeous. Perhaps, Chess, the garden is scheduled on a tour?
    Note: Abe Books enabled me to buy at cheapo cost a whole mess of Verey, all the Woman’s and Man’s series and a bit of garden ornament, which led to The Garden Gate which inevitably leads to The Garden Path, The Garden Bench, The Garden Trellis. I hope my own garden ends up like Page 137, only with, you know, roses.

    • paridevita says:

      The guy I live with now thinks maybe seven, or eleven, might work, too. What would really work is an odd number placed somewhere else, to sort of echo the first mysterious arrangement. Something about that picture just struck a chord, you know? There are supposed to be a few people coming over later this month. They have to bring their own weeders, though. …. Also, since the guy I live with was involved in writing books some years ago, he is mildly shocked at the ridiculously low prices some books bring. He got a copy of Graham Stuart Thomas’s Ornamental Shrubs, a big, fat, expensive book when it first came out, for $1.95. Libraries are getting rid of their books. Why is this? Maybe the books never get checked out, but that seems like a weird reason to get rid of them. All along the Front Range here, roses mostly were killed to the ground, after this awful winter. The guy I live with has a pile of rose clippings now.

  2. Oh no! Left off the mention of both your photos, Chess, just filled with personality. You even lounge in picturesque fashion. Such a happy dog!

    • paridevita says:

      My mommy called me her “happy little goofball”, which, except for the last part, I guess I am. The guy I live with was particularly pleased with the first picture. I like to lie out in the garden when he’s working there, and I did the same thing when my mommy used to weed, which she loved to do, with her nejiri weeder (a Japanese scraper-weeder) and her Walkman with CMX on it. She got the CDs from the Stupido Shop in Helsinki. The CDs are still downstairs, but they never get listened to any more. Anyway, I like this part of gardening. My buddy Slipper would go inside and take a nap, while I gardened. He was more the contemplative type of purebred border collie. I’m more the action type, as you can tell.

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  4. KB says:

    I noticed that you have a lilac by the fence. As I am led to believe they are native to the Caucasus Mountains but were brought to this country in the 17th century or round about. Back east where I am originally from they are glorious at the end of May and first part of June. Often the only way a person could tell that there had once been a homestead on the property were the old lilacs still thriving after many years. Here in the rainy Northwest the bloom time doesn’t seem to be all that long as we generally have a warm spell just in time to shorten the blooms. Very aggravating as they are one of my favorite flowers and I really wait all year for them. How is yours blooming this early with your colder temperatures? They seem to be quite drought tolerant when established though.

    • paridevita says:

      It will be 81 today. Even the regular vulgaris types are blooming this year; they often get frozen just before opening.
      The hyacinthiflora types, like Annabel, have always bloomed here right at the end of April. (Syringa vulgaris x S. oblata.)
      They can be grown so that their leaves droop pathetically all summer, and they still come back the next year like nothing happened, though the drooping leaves aren’t very attractive.

  5. Vivian Swift says:

    Excellent portraiture today, Chess. You do know how to strike a pose. When I look at that picture of the penstemon all I can think of is “Yum”. I’m not much of a forager, but those posies look very edible. Talk about book deals: When I warned my local library that their out of print 1964 first edition of The Tropical Gardens of Burle Marx was too rare to be in circulation and that they ought to consider making it a reference book, the librarian said Eh, it’s just an old book that hardly any body ever checks out so did I want to buy it for a dollar? This being Long Island, books about shopping or interior decoration are what the people want (even people who use the library) so altho I am no fan of Burle Marx I do have a compulsion to rescue books, so of course I bought it. There’s a Garden Gate book by Verey?? is it resistible?

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks; the guy I live with says penstemons are not really edible. “Fire taste” in certain Native American cultures. (We got visitors last year who were into “edibles”, which there aren’t any of here except some Egyptian onions which are just here, you know, but the guy I live with, always the ready wit, said “everything is edible at least once”. A blog that the guy I live with really likes, the View from Federal Twist, said that the growing “edibles” in the garden there was left to farmers, which is a really courageous thing to say in this day and age, when apparently everyone is “supposed” to be growing “edibles”, which is something the guy I live with doesn’t do either, since he’s never been able to find a tiramisu plant.) He also knows about Burle Marx. Huge collection of philodendrons. (Got that from The Complete Shade Gardener by Geo. Schenk, one of the best garden books ever. The writing ….) And garden design. Another popular thing these days, but probably not among actual gardeners.

    • I was surprised to find it a small book, 5×3 1/2 inches, The Library of Garden Detail, “The Garden Gate,” Rosemary Verey. Love All The Tiny Photos, and I find Page 31 particularly enticing. I could write a Regency romance from that view. My husband says we have seen the book before in larger format, but on such matters he is not wholly trustworthy (either am I). As for resistible, I did go on to order the others – by different authors – in the series. “The Garden Gate” is a comfort read, going well with a glass of wine.

      • paridevita says:

        The guy I live with has never read anything by Rosemary Verey, except the American Woman’s Garden, etc. We have a garden gate. Custom made, too.

  6. It is looking wonderful.

  7. Diana says:

    Penstemon arenicola is amazingly blue. Is it the bluest penstemon? I’m going with “yes” until I hear otherwise.

    • paridevita says:

      Nitidus can be as blue, but our vote goes to Penstemon cyaneus. Or maybe azureus. Wait, no, cyananthus, speciosus, pennellianus. No, wait, not those. P. caryi. The guy I live with says there were plants in the Colorado Alpines demonstration garden, up in Avon, which were so blue they were almost black. Oh, what about perpulcher or subglaber? Well, of the ones that are “amazingly blue”, arenicola and nitidus are tied. My mommy was especially proud of her watercolor of P. nitidus, which is now in the Hunt, and was featured when they did a show called “What we collect”, last year.

  8. Deborah S. Farrell says:

    The five rocks look just right. We were taught to plant things in groups of odd numbers in Master Gardener class although it was not mentioned as a principle of feng shui. Being told that brought out the rebel in me — so I often plant things in groups of 2 and 4. Take that! I notice in that photo that there are 5 rocks, 3 planters, but TWO chairs! uh oh.

    I was glad to see the amsonia because I have some native Ozark amsonia started from seed. Now I need to figure out where to plant them. Only two have sprouted so far.

    Feeling a bit taunted by the bluey blue blue of the penstemon. Don’t get me wrong, I could look at the photos all day, but knowing that this particular one won’t grow where I am is hard on a hedonist such as myself. To console myself, indulge my hedonism, I have been buying & planting Grace Ward lithodora. It’s very bluey blue blue, too.

    • paridevita says:

      Yes, ‘Grace Ward’. Ungrowable here. Though there is a form called ‘Picos’ which is semi-growable. The guy I live with was greatly encouraged when he read that even the late Christopher Lloyd would buy plants and then walk around Great Dixter trying to figure out where to plant them. And, the guy I live with almost always plants more than one of something because, well, because stuff dies. The two chairs are just there, and have been just there, for many years. They’re “supposed” to be somewhere else, but no one ever knew where that was.

      • Deborah S. Farrell says:

        I’m glad to know I’m in good company in buying plants knowing not where they will go. Sometimes I buy them because of the name. Like I had to buy a daylily called ‘Booger.’ And another one called ‘Schnickelfritz.’ How could I not? And today I went to a nursery 2 towns over because they are the only place that carries sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum) & ended up buying a couple of annuals (Evolvulus hybrid) because a) they had blue flowers and b) their tm name is “Blue My Mind” — again, how could I not? And this nursery had several plants I’ve been drooling over in catalogs but had resisted until today — no idea where they will go, either. I need to stay away from that nursery! I’ve got lots of planting to do tomorrow before the rain on Friday!

      • paridevita says:

        Indeed. The guy I live with has a lot of issues with buying plants, and keeps saying he’s not buying any more, etc. I am unable to lend credence to this, as they say. It rained here briefly, and hailed, and thundered. Rather scary.

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