Saturday, May 31, 2008

Oh May May Go.....

Oh May may go where 'ere she will,

Through clouds and rain or sun-filled skies,

In flowery fields or wooded shade,

The cardinals twitter, the mockingbirds trill;

May yields Spring's glories
To Summer's searing parade.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Hurray it's May!

May might just be the most perfect month out of the year. April is awesome, but there are still too many cold days so it can't be in 1st place. June has traditionally held 1st place for the best month of all in my mind, but that has been heavily influenced by the fact that my birthday is in June...and as a kid, school let out for the summer in June. June is still very good, but it does get hot in late June so I think I'm going to let it fall to 2nd place and grant May the top spot.

One of my reasons for adoring May is the flowers. You know the story...April showers bring May flowers...well, it is true! I have worked like a dog for about a month now trying to get my garden and yard into better shape. Most of the perennials have been dug up, divided, and replanted. The roses got a good hard pruning and it shows! They are shooting up like mad and are full of buds. The climbing Queen Elizabeth rose in the front bed is just starting to bloom. There were maybe 6 blooms today out of the 30+ on the bush. Just wait till Mother's Day next Sunday when the bush will be in peak bloom. Ah, it will be stunning. As for now, the pink roses are hard to pick out because of the abundance of blossoms on the azaleas this year. All the TLC I've given over the past several years is finally paying off. The puny things have become fat and glorious. They should do even better next year because I will have moved the rosebush to more spacious quarters, thus giving the azaleas more room to spread.

While I'm talking about flowers, I should identify today's photos. Up first is the exquisitely fragrant blue beaded iris---the State Flower of Tennessee. This hybrid has a delicate periwinkle hue and a delightfully sweet aroma that I find to be intoxicating. I want this scent in a bottle! When I came home 10 years ago this iris patch had one miserable clump clinging to the chainlink fence. It was surrounded by rocks, red clay, and the lawn and was well-shaded by a huge maple tree. The tree is gone, I turned the area along the fence into an authentic flower bed, and the iris patch has grown so much that I must dig and divide this fall. Digging iris is a chore, but I'm thrilled to have this one multiply to it's hearts content so I'm happy to dig.

The second photo is this year's pleasant surprise. You see about 3 1/2 yrs. ago I bought a bunch of spring flowering bulbs and planted them. The following year the tulips bloomed, so did the daffodils. Even the miniature narcissus and hyacinths bloomed. But the Dutch Irises did not. For the last 3 springs I have watched the green shoots of the Dutch Iris start to come up in October and November...growing bigger over the course of the winter and early spring (which seems very odd to me), but no flowers. I presumed things would be the same this year and planned to give up on them and pull the plants this summer. And that's when the things decided to flower. Surprise! The Dutch iris in the front bed are all in flower today. The ones in the shady bed in the back have buds, but no blooms yet. I think they need more sun so I will transplant them later this year.

I threw in the last photo to give you an idea of how one of my smaller aquilegia (columbine) plants looks in it's current covered-with-pink-blooms state. This is a Winky Rose of 3 in my garden at present. Encouraged by the success of these columbine, i bought a new plant off the half-price "stressed plant" table at Lowe's last week. The new plant is a Nora Barlow which has a different shape to the blooms. There is one shoot with buds on it...the other taller shoots were spent and I trimmed them. The plant was a bit dry and pouting after a very cold night the day I bought it, but now in the garden she's perking up quite nicely. I also snagged a pack of pink snapdragons off the bargain table, but they were a bit more stressed being annuals. I potted them in Miracle-Gro Mix to baby them. Pots are useful in that I can move them around in the hopes of prolonging the life of the flowers once the temperatures start to sour and the snaps start to pout in the hot sun.

I've focused on reclaiming two major areas in the backyard over the last 2 weeks. One area is right behind the house where the English Ivy is trying to take over the world. I'm maybe half-way through the chore...and some of the scariest work is left to do...scary because it's the densest places where scary things/critter could be hiding. I'm being brave though and working on things now before the spiders really get going. Later in the summer it's way too terrifying for me to get in there ;-) The other spot is at the very back of the yard where the neighbor's formerly tall pine trees used to shade everything. Now with the trees gone, the entire area turned to nasty weeds and other native growth. Slowly, section by section, I have hauled countless wheelbarrow loads of weeds...with the roots also dug out by hand...out of that stretch and dumped into the far corner of the yard to "return to nature". It has been a massive task...and I'm not done, but the progress is really showing up. Saturday night I cleared out one area (~5-6 sq ft)and freed a wild dogwood tree from the clutches of a vicious weed called bedstraw. Today I rescued a second dogwood, but it was more work since it had competing "weed trees" also trying to smother it.

I have one more garden "surprise" to share, but I'll wait until the next post when I have downloaded the photos off my camera so you can see. With all the heavy yardwork I haven't made as much progress knitting as I would like. Frankly, I couldn't knit more as the pain and stiffness in my hands was the worst I've ever experienced. The fibro pain has been justifiably bad...and well-drugged, but I'm starting to see the effects of degenerative arthritis in several knuckles, esp. in my right hand. This is not good when I'm knitting with 20wt cotton thread and size 1 needles. Yikes! Yes, this is the Colonial Bouquet Doily from the August 1956 issue of Workbasket that I found in my collection. It is stunning. I have about 12 rows left to will follow! I'm on the last repeat of the budding lace section of the Swallowtail Shawl..almost ready to switch to the Lily of the Valley border! I've added a few more rows to the Orkney plus I started a Fancy Fulness Shawl from Birgit's Knitting Delight Mystery KAL. The I hope to gift the FF to someone dear to me, so I won't say much here...lest the intended recipient find out about it! Sometimes surprises are wonderful :-)

Now that I've tried to cram a week's worth of stuff into one post...sorry guys! I promise to update more soon. Speaking of updates...did you notice that I've been fixing my sidebar? Yes, I've been working on my KAL buttons and links, the blog links, and other stuff over there. It's getting better but I still have lots more work to do. I haven't forgiven Blogger yet for lying to me about the saved back-ups..but I'll get there eventually. friends have been wonderfully supportive...and have offered great tips on what to do. Gee, thanks guys!