I recently discovered the extreme winter killed my red arbor roses. Too bad. That was an incredible display that just got better and better as time went on. A few years back we actually had a cardinal nest there and raise three chicks. Talk about camouflage! But oh what a harsh perch for little bird feet. That bush had more thorns than any rose I’ve ever seen. My husband cut the dead rose down to the ground and new growth has started from the roots. Another 18 years and I’ll have my arbor back. lol
The peonies and irises and the rest of the flowers are in full bloom around the yard today, and the perfume in the air is so heavy it’s almost cloying. In a word, my yard is stunning. Nearly all the flowers and ferns around my home were rescued from old farmsteads torn down over the last 25 or so years. All were in sorry abandoned condition as they fought overgrown grass for sunlight, water, and soil nutrients. They were terribly weak and spindly when we found them and brought them home. But careful tending by my husband has made them healthy and robust. Many of these are old varieties you just can’t find anymore. I like to imagine they thank us for saving them from the bulldozer with bigger blooms for us to enjoy each year.
There is a desperate transience to this beauty. These flowers are more than just pretty things that feed bees, hummingbirds, and the human soul. They are a reminder to stop and enjoy the view. Stop and smell the roses. Without fail, the very moment the peonies and irises are at their best, the June weather changes. I wonder if it all operates on some mystical principle that brings heavy rain as readily as washing your car or hanging freshly washed clothes on a clothes line does. My flowers look fabulous today so of course there’s a heavy thunderstorm expected this afternoon. Afterward, the petals on the peonies will be nothing but a white and pink mess on the ground and the tallest irises will all have their stems broken. I well know exactly how this drama unfolds here on the hill.
In anticipation of today’s storm, we cut huge bouquets and brought them indoors last night. I’ll have a few days of flowers at least. I confess I had to take the vase of peonies off the table. The sweet heavy perfume was choking me this morning. 🙂
Back when we were involved with The Mother Earth News (my husband was chapter president in Chicago), we were introduced to The Seed Saver Exchange.
I mention it because this is the time of year when people do gardening. As mentioned above, our old farmstead flowers are varieties who knows how old. It’s important to hang onto old varieties of plants for the genetic material they hold.
As a kid in Chicago I remember when the Dutch Elm Disease hit the neighborhoods. My block had huge shady cathedral elms on both sides of the street. The city cut them all down because they were infested with the beetle that spread the disease. The trees were planted too close and exclusively, it didn’t take much for the disease to spread. Miles of city blocks were treeless because no one thought of diversity in city tree planting. This single-minded planting also contributed to the Great Famine of the mid-1800’s when potato crops all across Europe succumbed to blight and one million people perished from starvation. As a species relying on agriculture for our survival, we continue to do short-sighted moves like that. In 100 years we’ve gone from more than 300 varieties of sweet corn to just 12. What if a corn disease takes out the 12?
A rush is on to find and preserve the seeds of the world as species rapidly disappear. Important work if ever there was. Our lives may depend upon them.
When you’re putting your garden in why not grow an heirloom? A search online will turn up many small and large companies to get seeds from. You can find rare flowers, fruits, vegetables, and more.
Here are two to get you started:
For 100 days, I’ll post something from my chosen topic: Clichés.
There are 98 entries to come.
Here’s a cliché for today:
Absolute power corrupts absolutely
Today is Author R. Ann Siracusa’s blog day.
The June contest is on Romance Books ‘4’ Us and the theme is wedding. Find the little bride and groom hidden all across the site to win. While you’re hunting, be sure to check all our pages for news about authors and their books, publishers and their books, and industry representatives.This month’s contest will have 2 winners who’ll each receive a $50 gift card for Amazon/B&N and a $10 gift card toward books from Secret Cravings Publishing. The rest of the prizes will be split between winners (randomly chosen by RB4U). http://www.romancebooks4us.com
Love Waits in Unexpected Places – Scorching Samplings of Unusual Love Stories
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Here in Canada, my peonies aren’t even thinking about blooming yet. Everything’s late this year, which makes it really tough because summer is so short as it is. Good on you for rescuing all your plants (talk about recycling!) I totally agree with you about saving heritage seeds and plants. Spread the word!
Thanks for stopping by, Jana. That is late! The winter lasted so long it seems everything is in a rush here. Now for the mosquitoes…
Roses: My wife had a Lady Banskia Rose that we kept through two moves over the years. The plant was the size of a tree. Then my son had an idea he could cut it down and let it grow from just a few bare branches at the trunk. Bad idea. This year nothing except a few dead branches. You could say that he had an absolutely corrupt chain saw. We planted it over 25 years ago.
I can picture your rose tree. My arbor rose had a multiple trunk. The rose roots are generally hardy. If given the opportunity, they can grow a whole new rose bush for you in time. If the rattling of the chain saw didn’t damage those roots, you might get it back.
Gardens are such magical places, and yours sounds divine, Rose. The garden teaches so many lessons: letting go, living in the moment, patience, and protecting our heritage… reading your post reminded me of all these themes again, many of them lessons I constantly work on. Thanks for sharing the beauty of your surroundings with us.
🙂 You’re welcome. We get so busy sometimes, our day to day so filled with whatever we must juggle in the fast-paced world we live in. It’s easy to overlook things like heirloom seeds and old farmstead flower garden remnants. Way back beyond our woods on what was once an old farmstead from the mid-1800’s, there’s a gnarly old apple tree mostly eaten by deer and ants. It’s a Roxbury Russet. That variety is considered the oldest in the country and dates back to colonial Massachusetts. The apples are small, not much larger than a golf ball. They’re also brown and crusty instead of red. If you take the long trek out there and if you’re lucky, you can side-bite around the bug spots and dents and taste a most amazing apple. Better than any commercially grown ever sold in stores. I haven’t been back there in a few years. I would imagine it’s gone now. It was in a sorry state when my husband found it.
It’s sad we are losing so much pure natural food source. Gnarly old trees like your Roxbury Russet are as important as an archaeological dig, if not more so. Things just don’t taste like anything much anymore. Eat a potato with a blindfold on and you’d barely know it’s a potato except for the consistency.