The hummingbird and I

Sweeping up, trimming dead leaves, feeding, transplanting…. I love it all. This afternoon I managed to spend a few hours working in the garden and though I accomplished only a fraction of what’s needing done, every little bit helps, right? Back and forth I went from the greenhouse to the strawberry barrels, from the garage to the patio, carrying blood meal or seaweed food, a lavender plant in a pot, the pruners or a trowel or a trug in which to put the trimmings.

In the morning before I even came downstairs I was listening to the birds, and when I looked out the window of my bedroom I got a nice view of the snowball bush that has begin to bloom. And when I aimed my camera a little bit to the right of that, it shows you the table where we will sit over tea when you come to visit. After touring the garden, of course!

As I was eating my breakfast I noticed a hummingbird checking out the Pride of Madeira, or echium candicans — that’s because the blue flowers have finally started to open!! I hope lots more flowers will follow, to fill out the bloom properly.

Both kinds of rockrose, cistus, have opened now, and both are heartmelting:

Below, heuchera and blue-eyed grass:

My big rose geranium that I keep by the back door, in hopes that I will brush against it when I pass by and catch some of its scent, was terribly overgrown and gangly. I trimmed it severely and brought in a few stems to put with pincushion flowers on the kitchen counter.

All that was in the back garden. When the light was waning, and I had put away my garden tools but not my camera, I went to the front and saw that in the last day an asparagus stalk had suddenly made a sharp turn and was coming on to the sea holly.

Isn’t he a brave fellow to cozy up to such a prickly girl?

I missed my walks by the creek today, and visits with weeds. I don’t have to work hard to enjoy those wild plants; they take care of themselves and I never have a thought to remove them from wherever they are growing. But they also aren’t as satisfying to me as all my demanding cultivated flowers and vegetables! I’m looking forward to more work and pleasure tomorrow.

A bell named George.

Today and tomorrow there is so much going on! Of course, every day is like that, even in the liturgical calendar, but I noticed three of the events or commemorations secular and ecclesial overlap just now.

The second Sunday after Pascha is the Sunday of the Myrrhbearers, when we remember Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus who ministered to our Lord’s body, and the women who brought spices to the tomb to anoint Jesus, where they met an angel instead. The angel told them that Christ had risen! Joanna was one of those women, so today was my name day. 🙂

Earth Day is celebrated on April 23rd, about which I once wrote an article that I don’t know how to improve upon. And starting this evening, it’s the feast of St. George the Greatmartyr, who received the crown of martyrdom on April 23, 303.

It wasn’t until I was walking to the parking lot this afternoon at church and stopped to take a picture of the bells, that I remembered that our big bell is named after St. George. All of the bells have names, but the great one bears the name of the Greatmartyr. He has wisteria adorning, and a chain protecting him from thieves who would peddle his metal. One of our slightly smaller bells was stolen once and had to be replaced.

In the morning the bell George will be rung for the saint George. One hymn of the day includes these lines:

God raised you as his own gardener, O George,
for you have gathered for yourself the sheaves of virtue.
Having sown in tears, you now reap with joy…

May we all have good reason to rejoice on this day and every one.

Middlemarch in May with Arti

Arti at Ripple Effects blog is hosting a read-along for the next two or more months, and I am joining in! She invites us to the party with this inducement:

“In 2015, BBC Culture contributor Jane Ciabattari surveyed 82 book critics around the world outside UK, ‘from Australia to Zimbabwe’, and asked them to rate the greatest English novels of all time. Guess which book came up on top of the list? Guess right. Middlemarch by George Eliot.”

More than a dozen years ago my husband and I read this novel aloud together, and found it a rich and complex world to visit for several months, with well-drawn characters living through their thought-provoking questions and dilemmas. I knew I wanted to read it again, and here is my chance. I remember back then that occasionally when I was the one doing the reading I could not help being so rude as to stop suddenly (with apologies) because I really needed to underline a passage.

When I took my fat paperback off the shelf this week I looked inside to see just what had seemed so compelling at the time. It’s certain that of context of the whole novel I don’t recall the characters well enough at this point to fully appreciate how wise was the author’s assessment of their character and inner lives.

So I’m returning to Middlemarch, pretty confident that I will find it a rich exploration, and I’m not waiting for May, to start reading. What with all my underlining and pausing to think, I will be a slow reader as usual. So let the journey begin! Would you like to join us?

I busy myself with weeds.

Weeds are keeping me busy indeed — and I don’t mean with the hoe or on my hands and knees yanking them out of my garden. Now that I have inches of mulch covering the soil around the plants I do want, I have more leisure to merely study the weeds that manage to pop up.

It’s easy to get carried away with this project, and my blog material has swelled to the point of resembling the unwieldy piles of weeds I used to cart to the waste bin. I have been sorting pictures and choosing the best ones to show you, and poring over Weeds of the West. I asked my farmer friend Dick about one weed that did get away from me in the gravel utility yard, and he said he had it, too, and would find out what it was. But Pippin researched and we agreed it was sowthistle. Dick turned out to be amused that we would work so hard to find the name of something “only a weed!”

Yesterday was the Day of Rejoicing, and this year I went to all four cemeteries to sing to those waiting in their graves for the Resurrection. Two of the cemeteries have non-endowed sections where weeds are plentiful, and as we processed from one area to another I stopped to get a picture of some weeds/wildflowers (they can be the same plant!), explaining to my friend Tom who was behind me, “I am doing a sort of study of weeds….”

“Why would you do that?” he asked.

“Well, I like to learn about plants, and now in springtime weeds are bursting out everywhere… they are part of my world!”

There’s no time for philosophizing on this topic at the moment, though, because I have dozens more weeds to sort and investigate, so I thought I’d just tell you about one that I mis-identified in the past. When a friend saw my picture at the top of this post that I had elsewhere labeled “chamomile” she questioned, “Are you sure it isn’t Tripleurospermum maritimum?” Well, hmm… no…. But I have since learned that it isn’t either of those things, but a relation called pineappleweed, or Matricaria matricarioides (or Matricaria discoidea). On its blooms “ray flowers are lacking,” as Weeds of the West puts it. It has other common names: wild chamomile — so I wasn’t totally wrong — and disc mayweed.

Reading about Tripleurospermum maritimum is also interesting, but a bit confusing. I love that in Iceland and Scandinavia it is called Baldr’s eyelashes — or is it Baldr’s Brow? —  after the son of Odin:

“The second son of Odin is Baldr, and good things are to be said of him. He is best, and all praise him; he is so fair of feature, and so bright, that light shines from him. A certain herb is so white that it is likened to Baldr’s brow; of all grasses it is whitest, and by it thou mayest judge his fairness, both in hair and in body. He is the wisest of the Æsir, and the fairest-spoken and most gracious; and that quality attends him, that none may gainsay his judgments. He dwells in the place called Breidablik, which is in heaven; in that place may nothing unclean be.”

But is T.m. actually the same thing as Tripleurospermum  inodorum? And should it or they be called Matricaria perforata? Controversy surrounds this plant!  Are Icelanders looking at the same plant as the Swedes when they think of Baldr, or is theirs scentless mayweed? Is the plant — or if there are two, is one of them — truly scentless, or is it bad-smelling? This is not even a weed in my own world and look where it’s taken me!

But dear pineapple weed is fair, too, and has been part of my life for a long time. It likes to grow in places where people have packed the ground down by walking on it, and if on my everyday walk I cut the corner sharply enough turning on to the creek path, I will walk on it. I read that the leaves have a pleasant scent when crushed, so today I stopped and rubbed some between my finger and thumb, and yes, it caused a faint pineappley event, but not worth stomping on the furry greenery to accomplish.

Before I was certain of its identity I tried just to pick off a stem in the rain and a clump came up. So I brought it home and divided it into four which I planted in a pot. It will be interesting to see if it can be happy with no one walking on its territory.

Wouldn’t it be sweet, even scent-wise, if pineappleweed could invade sowthistle’s domain? It wouldn’t be the first time I have cultivated a weed in my garden. If I find the time, I might tell you about that. For now, I’ll be interested to hear if a few of my readers have any kind of chamomile or mayweed growing wild in your worlds, and I will get back to my own.