Monday, May 31, 2010

Gardening with Beverley

Done with the physical gardening for the weekend--weeding, deadheading, planting a few additional annuals--and will now retire to a corner to enjoy the flowers and read a fascinating biography of my favorite garden writer, Beverley Nichols, at least until the rains come again. Ah well, the flowers seem to like all the water.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Comforting Things

It's been a very stressful day--car problems are such a drag--and tonight I'm seeking comfort. Where do I turn? First and foremost to my kind husband and my furry friends. A purring cat curled up on my lap can make it awkward to type, but compensates with waves upon waves of comfort. A cup of tea and a cranberry-ginger scone were also helpful. A "nursery" dinner of soft scrambled eggs with lots of sharp cheddar accompanied by buttered toast will soothe, as will a hot bath and a good book. If all else fails, there's the WASP cure-all: the well-made cocktail. Since it's May (even though it's cold and rainy in the PNW) that means a gin & tonic.  I love Hendricks, but in an effort to support local craft distillers I am currently using and enjoying Cascadia gin, made right here in Oregon. Very nice herbal flavors, goes well with tonic. I'll save the Hendricks for cucumber-garnished martinis.  I'll worry about the car tomorrow, which is, as Scarlett says, another day.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

It's all about timing

I waited too long to head  out into the garden to weed, and no sooner had I settled in with gardening stool and weeding fork when it began to rain. No gentle drizzle either -- massive, cold rain drops. Cats and I ran for the door. Let's hope tomorrow will be fair. In the meantime, let's consider some rainy Saturday indoor pursuits. Perhaps a cup of tea, some blueberry scones, and a good book--nothing like the classics, right? I could start baking Winning-Hearts-and-Minds Chocolate Cakes and freezing them for next month's wedding fete, but I'm not feeling that ambitious. Besides, I think I'm out of parchment paper to line the pan. Yes, that's it. Reading it is, then! I am about a quarter of the way through Colum McCann's wonderful Let the Great World Spin and am astounded at how beautiful and yet how exciting the writing is. It is not terribly common for me to find a piece of modern literary fiction that is so engaging that I can't wait to see what happens. Prize winners, particularly, are sometimes so terribly clever or "meaningful" that one can appreciate the writing without really enjoying it. McCann's National Book Award Winner is, however, a thumping good read. I think I'll dip back into it now.

Friday, May 21, 2010

A Soggy Spring

It's raining here in Oregon--shocking, I know--and though I'm more than ready for some sunshine, I love what the rain is doing for my gardens, the vineyards, and all the crops. I grew up in the Southeast, so I'm used to lush vegetation, but this place is ridiculous. I've only ever seen this many shades of green in Ireland. One runs out of words to describe them.

So the garden is coming right along: the first strawberries have appeared, the spring bulbs have bloomed and gone, the rhododendrons are coming in waves, and the roses are just starting. I confess: I bought this house for the garden. It is the cottage garden I longed for during the long, barren years in Oklahoma, where the extreme weather and poor soil killed all but the most stubborn plants. Here, one can grow just about anything, except vegetables that require a lot of heat. My cucumbers, eggplants, peppers, and basil have not prospered. But the roses make up for everything. And the irises. And the peonies. The hydrangeas. The rhodies. The clematis that bursts out in a shower of white blossoms enveloping the front porch at the end of February. The rosemary and lavender that grow like weeds. I adore it all so much. I have come to the conclusion that I am first and foremost an ornamental gardener. I mix in some herbs and peas in with the flowers; I have a bed of strawberries and several blueberry bushes that supply me with fruit for my morning yogurt and granola; and I always have to have a few heirloom tomatoes. However, when I have a limited amount of space, a CSA subscription, and two weekly farmers' markets in summer (one of these is year round), I see no need to expend a ridiculous amount of time and money--not to mention sweat and toil--attempting to grow vegetables I can buy locally. Support the farmers!

The name of this blog is a quote from Voltaire: "We must cultivate our garden." Do what is in front of us. Take care of things that are important. And always, always make time for flowers.