Carol A. Hand
When I first moved here almost four years ago, it was October. The leaves had fallen, old branches were piled to the top of the four-foot fences, and the yard was filled with an odd assortment of metal poles and lawn ornaments. Of course, they were all set in concrete and it was difficult to tell if there were any plants other than raspberry bushes and unhealthy baby trees all along the fence line.
Photo: Front Yard – Real Estate Photo – 2011 (the windmill and metal tree are gone now)
In the spring, there were a few surprises – an assortment of the most invasive ground covers one can encounter – lilies of the valley, snow on the mountain, yellow woods violets, creeping bellflowers, and or course the ubiquitous creeping charlie. There are a number of other plants with similar characteristics that I have yet to identify. They all have dense, deep root structures that form an impermeable cover over the clay soil that lets little water through. The removal process means jumping up and down on a steel-bladed shovel to clear at least the first foot of soil. Of course, every seed that has been waiting to germinate now competes to totally fill any open space. Viola tri-color flowers and forget-me-nots are lovely. I suspect that they were favorites of the previous owner who planted them anew each year because of all of the plastic plant tabs I find in the soil (along with nails, glass, shingle shreds, and other sundry garbage). The little seeds have been patiently biding their chance to grow – and grow they have – choking whatever else I try to plant.
There have been other discoveries as well – cow parsnips and buckthorn trees. Both are beautiful, but the sap of cow parsnips can cause serious blisters on skin when exposed to sunlight, and buckthorn tress spread rapidly and are threatening the health of Minnesota forests.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the challenge of trying to breathe new life into earth that has been neglected for so long. It’s a matter of having patience to try to reestablish some kind of balance. I’m inspired by the miracle of witnessing the astounding variety of life that emerges from tiny seeds. Who could guess?
Photo: Gardens have replaced the windmill and metal tree – August 30, 2015
As I contemplated the plants that need to be harvested next – carrots and beets – I heard a song on the classical radio station that my parakeets listen to during the day. I discovered that flowers have inspired some of the most beautiful compositions. Today, I decided to share two of them: The Flower Duet (from the opera Lakmé by Léo Delibes) and Waltz of the Flowers (from the Nutcracker ballet by Piotr Ilich Tchaikivsky). I know I do have a somewhat unpredictable eccentric taste in music – but can’t you hear the flowers sing and see them dance when no one is looking?
Photo: Zinnia from my Granddaughter’s Garden – August 30, 2015
The Flower Duet – Sung by Anna Netrebko & Elina Garanca (Lyrics with English translation here)
Waltz of the Flowers (from the Nutcracker ballet by Piotr Ilich Tchaikivsky)