The Impatient Gardener

Posted by mrssmythe on June 25, 2018 in Garden |

Several weeks back, I had the idea to plant Morning Glories near the base of the front porch. I thought it would be nice to have them wind their way up the support beams and make what I hoped would be a lovely display later in the summer. So, I bought a packet of seeds, and though I wanted to plant them immediately, I did as the seed packet directed and soaked them for 24 hours. After planting them, I checked every few days for about a week. Nothing happened. I gave up.

Soon afterward, I found ready-made Morning Glories available at the local nursery. I bought three, and, when I got them home to plant…

I discovered that the seeds I’d planted had germinated after all. I’d given up on them too soon. Now, I had three enthusiastic looking seedlings already in place. Suddenly, I had to expand my planting vision.

And, as I walked around the front yard, wondering where I’d squeeze in three more plants, I told myself that if I’d just waited a few more days…if I hadn’t given up on those seeds so soon…I wouldn’t have been in that fix. (Though, truthfully I didn’t mind having the extra plants. I was more concerned with my own lack of patience).

I seem to have a hard time waiting. It’s a problem that surfaces frequently in the garden. I’ve planted over the tops of things that are slow to surface. I’ve pulled things out, thinking they were dead. And seeds that don’t germinate quickly run the risk of being replaced with something more instantly gratifying. Terrible, I know. Really, I need to learn to handle it better. After all, so much of gardening is about waiting.

Waiting for flowers to open….

Waiting for vegetables to mature…

Waiting for shrubs and trees to become established…

The list goes on and on.

And, as frustrating as all of this is, I know it’s very good for me. Having to wait is teaching me that I can’t have everything on my own timetable, that here are things beyond my control. Many things, actually. Like the rate at which apples ripen….

From the front porch, waiting for things to dry out after a much-needed summer rainstorm,

Mrs. Smythe





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Posted by mrssmythe on June 18, 2018 in Garden, Musings with Comments closed |

There have been so many changes in our neighborhood this season. One neighbor pulled out an entire hedgerow of shrubs, leaving only juvenile trees behind in their place. Another took out a large stand of, ancient pines, dramatically changing the light on that end of the block. Finally, around the corner, an elderly neighbor either passed away or moved to a care facility. Her house is now being rapidly overhauled as the owners prepare to sell. One morning, all of the overgrown shrubs in her front hard were yanked. The next, a new roof went on. It’s amazing how quickly these things can be done with enough people and the right equipment.

I think about that last neighbor often as I walk by her house now in the mornings. I think of her yard and how much she must have loved it – at least that’s how it appeared. I often saw her out front, reading a paper with her tropical bird in a cage beside her on the driveway. Or I’d see her cutting the lawn with an old, under-powered mower, raking the leaves in fall, or carefully tilling the soil around her hydrangeas. Now, her plants are blooming – it was the spirea this week – and she’s not there to see them. It makes me sad. I wonder, does the garden miss her? Do the plants know?

Down the road, another gardener’s house is up for sale – a gardener who plants dahlias in profusion every spring, a gardener who always fills a sizable garden cart in the front yard with colorful annuals. Now she’s moving. I don’t think there will be dahlias this year…and that, too, makes me feel sad.

It reminds me that gardens – and gardeners – aren’t permanent things. This year, I’ll miss these things and people I’ve come to rely on as part of the summer landscape here. And, all of these changes have motivated me even more to enjoy neighborhood gardens (and gardeners!) while they are blooming, while they are here.

From the dining room, table, hoping I haven’t depressed you too much with today’s musings…

Mrs. Smythe

P.S. – The photos in this blog represent recent changes we’ve made to our own yard; new foxgloves out front, a new rock wall, a dead tree taken down, a bird bath in a new spot. It’s a good reminder that all change isn’t necessarily bad.







Irises, The Rock Garden, and a Rose I Should Kill

Posted by mrssmythe on June 11, 2018 in Garden, Week in Review |

We’re now well into June, and there’s plenty happening in the garden.

Irises I got last summer from a friend have begun to bloom – aren’t they pretty?

Another gift from a gardening friend – these Foxgloves:

These are actually the descendants of foxgloves she gave me years back. This year, I finally moved them to the front where I’ve been able to appreciate them. Before, they were crowded by the back fence where mosquitoes make prolonged visits miserable. This will be a much better location for them.

Something I’m not as excited about – the Multiflora Rose in the side yard.

I know I spoke positively about this plant last week. It’s pretty and it smells nice. But since then, I’ve learned that it can be a serious menace – difficult to remove and capable of harboring pests that endanger other roses in the garden. The only thing good I’ve read is that its hips and leaves contain vitamin C and that birds eat from it in winter. Almost every website I visited used words like “noxious weed” and “invasive species” to describe it. Gardeners are urged to get rid of it, with writers stressing that its cons far outweigh its pros. Maybe it’s time for me to grab the clippers and try to do it in – especially, as I’d hate for it to choke out the Mountain Laurel beside it.

Be warned, though. Mountain Laurel is no saint – I recently learned that all parts of this plant are toxic to both animals and humans. Even the pollen is poisonous and can taint honey if visited by bees. (Good thing that’s a bumble bee on that blossom!)

Come to think of it, the foxgloves are poisonous, too. Gads! The plant world can be a dangerous place!

Let’s move on to more benign plants, shall we? Ice Plants, for example.

These are new additions to my rock garden – a dry, sandy place where I’m hoping they will fill in space and help crowd out weeds.

I think they look a bit like sea anemones. In fact, the entire rock garden reminds me of a coral reef. It’s a nice change of pace from the other areas of the yard which require more work. I love that the plants I put there – mainly ice plants and succulents – are so low-maintenance and hardy.

These Creeping Sedum are also in the rock garden and, so far, are doing an excellent job of keeping the weeds down.

It’s nice when plants work with you and not against you, don’t you think?  (Multi-flora rose, I’m looking at you!)

So, that brings you up to date for this week. If you drive by, you’ll likely see me out puttering in the yard, tending to the plants and trimming the azaleas that have gone out of control. It’s always extremes, isn’t it? Hacking at one thing while trying to coax life into something else. Never dull in the garden

From the dining room table, adding that people have actually made spoons out of Mountain Laurel wood. Would you use a spoon if you knew it came from a poisonous plant? I’m not sure I would.

Mrs. Smythe




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Posted by mrssmythe on June 4, 2018 in Garden, Out & About, Seasons, Week in Review |

We’ve been having beautiful weather here this past week. Today, I went for a walk along Main Street in nearby Hampden, a little town that was first settled in 1741 (though called by another name at the time). Here’s the town’s Historical Society building, still done up in the bunting that went up, I assume, for Memorial Day.

And here’s the lovely Scantic River that borders many of the Main Street homes’ backyards.

In years past, it’s been known to flood, but today, it was pleasant and benign.

Elsewhere in our area this week – Highland cattle babies!

CPT A drives past this herd frequently, and this week they were close enough to the fence for him to take photos. Aren’t they beautiful?

I don’t normally say that about cows, but there’s something about these cows that I really like. The idea of having livestock (apart from the chickens) never enters my mind, but whenever I see these cows, I start to get ideas.

We’re seeing more and more flowers in the garden as the weather warms. In the rock garden, the Perennial Geranium is blooming…

…along with the chives.

And, in the side yard, the Rhododendron has peaked.

It’s at just the right height now that it catches my eye from inside the house and several times this week I’ve thought I’ve seen a person in a pink shirt prowling about outside…only to realize, on second glance, that it’s just this shrub.

Nearby, the Mountain Laurel is beginning to open.

These blossoms fascinate me. I think the buds look a bit like piped frosting.

Entwined with the Mountain Laurel is a wild rose that is particularly thorny, but smells so nice and looks so pretty, I’m willing to look past the scratches.

And, finally, here is a shrub/tree that I see frequently on my dog walks. I believe it’s a Beauty Bush, and it’s so tall, I had to stand on tiptoe to snap the photo below:

And those flowers? They smell just gorgeous.

So that brings you up to date for this week. Now, we have rain in the forecast, and as much as I’ve loved the sun and warmth, the garden will appreciate a good long drink. From the dining room table, getting ready to sit down with a book and some tea,

Mrs. Smythe




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Strictly Ballroom…Almost

Posted by mrssmythe on May 28, 2018 in Garden, Out & About, Week in Review |

On Friday, Pepper and I attended a ballroom dance competition in downtown Springfield. Pepper is interested in DanceSport now, and we thought it would be fun to see a competition firsthand.

To get to the hotel where the competition was held, we had to walk across a sky bridge – something I’ve always wanted to do.

Sky bridges intrigue me, and this one was filled with tropical plants – a tiny oasis, really.

The competition was really a lot of fun to watch.

Competitors ranged in age from seniors to kids, and the music was great. Everyone looked beautiful. People seemed to be having such a wonderful time, and I can see how you could get caught up in the glamour and excitement of this hobby.

Like every hobby, though, it requires equipment.

That was the sale rack! The full price dresses on the other racks in the hallway where the vendors had set up were in the $3,000 – $5,000 range. I was told that it’s a bit like real estate, though. No one ever keeps their first dresses. You wear them, re-sell them, and then put what money make toward your next dress.

In garden news, the first of the irises have begun blooming. I have several of these that have popped up along the driveway. I have no idea where they came from, and I’m wondering if I should replant them in a more prominent place. It seems a waste for them to be blooming in such obscurity. But, they’re nice to see as we get in and out of the car, so maybe I’ll just let them be.

From the dining room table, thinking chess would be a nice, inexpensive hobby to steer my children toward,

Mrs. Smythe


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