the solstice

Hello everyone, and Happy Summer Solstice for those of you in the Northern Hemisphere; once again it is I, Chess the purebred border collie, here to bring you the latest and most excitingly excellent news from our garden as is caninely possible. You may remember me from such canine-type posts as “A Drippy Day” and “Gloomy Weather”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristically cautious pose. The weather has been super-icky for who knows how long. Pretty much constant thunderstorms and gloom. Except on Fridays, when it’s been really hot. I’m ready for winter, that’s for sure. 14061904I’ve been poked and prodded, too, and have to take antibiotics, and get ointment rubbed on the sore on my side, and had to eat some gross, gray food (“health food”, you know), and there’s been thunder, when it hasn’t been really hot, but the guy I live with says I’m actually okay and am just making a big deal out of nothing. Look who’s talking. 

Anyway, the guy I live with took some pictures, so I guess I’ll show them, though I really could go on quite a bit about myself. He says that’s immodest and that this is a gardening blog, at least in theory.

First thing is Penstemon cobaea. This is the largest-flowered species in the genus Penstemon. The plant, or seedlings of it, have been here for a very long time. It grows right by the edge of the flagstone so the soil is probably damp there all the time, which is what this penstemon really likes. 14062101Then an “orange festival”. True, some of the flowers are really yellow, but they were planted thinking the flowers would be orange. Or they came up from seed that way.

Papaver apokrinomenon. Cool name, huh?14062103Papaver triniifolium. This usually has “zillions” of flowers, but, as I say, the weather here has been icky. 14062104This gaillardia (Gaillardia aristata) is just growing in the lawn. The guy I live with says it would like more water than it gets here, but that that’s just too bad.Gaillardia aristataNow some glauciums. These could be Glaucium acutidentatum or G. corniculatum. There’s a difference, but I don’t know what it is. Well, acutidentatum means “acute teeth”, doesn’t it, and corniculatum means “having horns”, but whatever. I’ll study up on this and get back to you, some time. 14062105



14062107A pale orangey-pink form of Penstemon barbatus.14062111Phlox pulvinata. (Getting away from orange now.) Smells like vanilla cake. I could use some cake, that’s for sure. A nice cheesecake would be just the thing.14062110Malva zebrina. Or whatever they call it. Malva sylvestris ‘Zebrina’ or mauritanica or whatever. It comes up all over the garden in the southwest corner. 14062108Oh, and one of the lawnmowers, “trying not to be seen”, like in Monty Python. Not mowing the lawn, as you can see. 14062112Wait, there’s more. Grass pictures. Yes, I know, but bear with me. The guy I live with is all into native grasses and stuff, so, well, here they are.

Junegrass, Koeleria macrantha. It’s June, isn’t it, so the grass is doing the right thing. 14062114I like this picture better.14061903Silver beard grass, Bothriochloa saccharoides (the guy I live with says “that’s its name for today, anyway).14061901And, finally, Agrostis scabra. It took him quite a while to get a halfway decent picture. I’d say this was about halfway to being a decent picture ….14062113Okay, that’s it. Oh, well, we have a movie for you. Not a very long one. It rained here today. Briefly. And just rain, not the other stuff. Sorry about the wobbly camera.

There was a whole bunch of thunder, of course, and then it rained, and then the storm moved out onto the plains, and now there’s a tornado warning out there, which sounds pretty scary to me, since I remember when the sirens went off around here.

The place where the warning is, is where the guy I live with and my mommy went to get my Uncle Pooka when he was a little puppy. They’d gone up there earlier to pick out the puppy, and then went in the winter time, probably 1990, to get him, and the whole time they thought he was a girl, until he went into the pantry, which is where we purebred border collies went when we first showed up here, because it was cozy and safe, and the guy I live with looked at the puppy and told my mommy that the puppy had “features” that girl puppies don’t have, and my mommy was all upset and stuff, but it worked out okay (except for the part where the guy I live with explained to my mommy the difference between boy and girl dogs, at which point she “got all huffy”, especially since the guy I live with thought it was hysterical), because I hear that my Uncle Pooka was almost as excellent as I am, which is saying a lot.

I came from a long way away, too, but “in the other direction”, way down in southeastern Colorado somewhere. I only remember I didn’t know what a tree was until I showed up here.

Now that really is all.14062116


Until next time, then.



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12 Responses to the solstice

  1. Tracey says:

    Chess, I am sitting in a huge community garden waiting for a solstice concert. No lawnmowers but miniature chickens. It’s a perfect cool sunny evening. I hope that your health improves. What is with this health food? Some debunked roast chicken, a slice of brie, and uninterrupted sleep is all you need.

    The sun colors of the flowers are perfect for the solstice. Let’s hope that summer begins for you today.

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks. My health food is prescription stuff, and I like it okay, I guess. My tummy doesn’t like the antibiotic so I might stop taking it. I’m getting sensitive in my old age. Roast chicken and brie sounds much better. Oh, roast chicken stuffed with brie, with a Gorgonzola sauce. The evening here turned cool but humid, and the guy I live with was weeding and complaining about mosquitoes at the same time.

  2. Deborah Farrell says:

    A most caninely excellent reportage of all things garden. I especially liked the June grass, living up to its name. I celebrated the solstice on the Great Mound at Mounds State Park (Anderson, IN) with the Miami Nation drumming ceremony. The mounds at this location mark sun location, like the summer solstice, and it’s older than Stonehenge. A nice way to solstice.

    The solstice will forever after be known as the day one of the dogs I live with (Sammy) killed a squirrel. It’s quite a shock when a dog we’ve always known as sweet and gentle turns killer. I’m just hoping it wasn’t Ellie Mae, the goofy juvenile squirrel I’d grown fond of (of whom I’d grown fond).

    • paridevita says:

      My Grandpa Flurry, one of whose “pet names” (sorry) was Flykiller, dispatched every rodent he came across, as well as flies. He was pretty grumpy by the time I showed up here. Funny how one remembers days for things that happened on them. Today was the guy I live with’s maternal grandmother’s birthday. She was born in Los Angeles, but should have been born in Scotland, because supposedly she was heir to a castle near Stranraer, which is close enough to Logan Botanic Garden that, if the guy I live with lived in this castle now, would mean he would be growing tree ferns and taking me on long walks in the mist, so that’s what he thinks of on this day. Tree ferns in the mist. The guy I live with had a great uncle who lived in Anderson, Indiana. The guy I live with never met him, just heard about him, the way you do with some relatives.

      • Deborah Farrell says:

        Holy cow! What was this great uncle’s name (if I may ask)? I grew up in the Anderson area, and my 86 yr. old father still lives here. I come up at least once a month to do the detail yardwork — he still mows the yard, but edging & weeding are beyond him; and I generally time my trips to coincide with river business. It is the White River that runs through the area that I am working to save.

      • paridevita says:

        Herb Miller. Miller is probably a very unusual name in a place like Indiana……

  3. Allan Taylor says:

    Actually, corniculatum means ‘having LITTLE horns.’ (Suffix -ul- is diminutive inforce.) I have no diea how much difference there is between horns and little horns, but there must be some…Allan

    • paridevita says:

      Ah yes, like homunculus. Thanks; our Latin drifted away from us for a minute or two.
      Animula vagula blandula hospes comesque corporis… caetera.

      Purebred border collies are better at Dog Latin, of course.

  4. Diana says:

    Okay, I’m convinced, I’ll grow Penstemon cobaea. Are the flowers really bigger than P.grandiflorus?

    • paridevita says:

      3 cm long, 3 cm wide at the mouth, and about 1.5 cm across near the base of the flower. Really big. The white form, which is no longer here, is extremely beautiful. One of the parents of the large-flowered English (and French) hybrid “bedding” penstemons.

  5. petabunn says:

    Short and sweet again Chess, that’s me, just kidding, no internet again for the last week and a half so just want to say quickly before it goes again have caught up on all the posts again and more importantly, you are just so damn cute especially in the last photo. Hope you are feeling better.

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks; I’m feeling like my old self now, totally. I did have to get up at 6:30 this morning so that the guy I live with could take out the trash. They used to come at 4 p.m. and I could sleep in until 9:30 or 10 like a retired person should. I know how frustrating it can be without the internet, since I watched the guy I live with “endure it calmly” when ours was out for almost three days. There hasn’t been much going on here lately, except thunder and darkness. They say it’s supposed to stop eventually.

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