Tuesday, June 30, 2009

a tale of three gardens.

We now have three gardens. The failed garden that wasn't such a complete failure, the first raised bed garden for the Italian heirloom tomatoes in an undeniably sunny spot in front of the studio (where the black widow was found), and the second raised bed garden in the surprise!-several-hour-sunny spot along side the back of the house, which turned out to have serious water issues. (who knew a stream ran through it?!)

They are called, in order, the 'failed' garden, the 'tomato' garden, and the 'water' garden.

All is not lost. The Italians are thriving, as you see. Are these gorgeous tomatoes, or what?! This one's called Costoluto Genevese.

This one is Dawson's Black Zebra. Hmmm. Doesn't sound very Italian - that one - does he?

Ah well. This one [above] is Martino's Roma. That's Italian enough for anyone, surely. . . . The aubergines are another story. They weren't looking good, nestled, as they were, in the middle of the tomatoes. Not one of our better ideas. It's what necessitated taking down the fence on which lived the black widow, by the way, and leaving the tomatoes at risk to Lutherish depredations!

The aubergines got moved to the water garden - I figured they could tread water and do better than they were doing (which wasn't good) if they got a bit more sun on what was left of their leaves! Once out in the open, I discovered this guy, pictured below, on one of the leaves, and executed him summarily. Nope, I didn't feel bad about it at all. Especially after I found this, a day or two later: Wee aubergines! Yay!!! I can't believe they set fruit, coming from such a bad neighborhood. But they did, and now so long as they don't drown in the water garden, we may have some rather handsome specimens to adorn the kitchen.

I don't eat the things, m'self. But the king may have other plans for them. . . . . In other veggie news, the red swiss chard is flourishing in the water garden, and you should see the new crop of rocquette I planted there, as well! It doesn't look like much yet, but I have high hopes for this spot. Meanwhile, the swiss chard in the failed garden is rallying, having been left alone for awhile. [Note to self: give these guys a little more time before you start robbing them of their leaves for the salad] The tomato plants are manfully setting fruit even in the absence of sun, and the scarlet runner and purple-podded pole beans are flowering in fits and starts.

Life continues at the greenwood. Thank God.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

canine capers

Luther had company. Much play ensured.

Leaving all concerned, exhausted. Lilli fared better than the others, but she was wiped out, too.

Eron bounced back.
He kept coming back for more.

So did Luther, even when he looked like he was down for the count!
He hasn't moved since they left. OK - yes he did come inside.

Monday, June 22, 2009

along came a spider. . . .

Purty, ain't she?

Yes, I knew immediately what kind she was. . . . No, I didn't ask her to roll over so I could see her belly. The red I could see was close enough to giving me the idea of the black widow red hour-glass on her belly without closer inspection. This was more than close enough, thank you very much.

I saw her right after I'd pulled the fencing down from around the tomatoes and was preparing to roll it up. Oh. Eeek. I'm feeling fine, though, so I'm assuming she didn't bite me. It seems you've got to keep your wits about you when you're weeding, engaging in aubergine rescue operations, and otherwise playing in the dirt!


It's a dangerous world out there.

Monday, June 15, 2009

from the garden

OK, so the the failed garden isn't as complete a failure as I'd thought. Imagine my surprise to see these on the admittedly spindly vines! I was going to photograph the difference between the ones from the greenwood garden [no sun] and the ones from my dad's garden [sun] - but I couldn't tell the difference. If anything, the ones from the greenwood garden are maybe a bit more tender. . . . believe it or not!

Also in the 'failed garden', this beautiful climbing rose. It's so perfect, it almost looks fake.

Amazing, isn't it? I went out to look one last time and found all these peas, the roses, and an actual tomato - still green - growing out there, in the shade. Maybe not such a failure, after all.

Guess that means I'd better weed it. Who knows what else I'll find?!

Friday, June 12, 2009

luck of the Irish

Found, out in the front pasture, by the Sicilian.

I've never actually seen a four-leaf clover in real life, only those pressed into medallions sold in Shannon Airport which (as everyone knows) are so easy to fake. I used to do it as a child all the time: pick two clovers, rip all but one leaf off one, hold the two stems together and - voilà! - a four-leaf clover.

The king said he used to find them all the time. We were walking outside in the evening, wine glass in hand, summer storm pending. He bent down to examine a clover patch, brushing his hands over it and ruffling the leaves. He plucked one.

"There you go!"

My first four-leaf clover.


Later, he admitted that it usually took him hours to find one, if at all. . . . Yes, it's a magical place! Which brings me to the saying: 'the luck of the Irish'. I wonder where they got that? Stop for just a moment to think of the Irish history! Not exactly 'lucky'. But wait a minute, maybe that's the point and I've just never realized it: their luck is as common as the four-leaf clover? Sheesh! And here I always thought that the Irish were supposed to be 'lucky'!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


In the words of the song - Storm - "there's a big storm comin'. . . ."

We watched it from under the porte cochère.

Luther was unfazed by the thunder and lightning, which was a relief after his scare the day before yesterday by a crack and a clap of thunder that came out of nowhere. . . . Very alarming. I have been hoping that he will not develop a fear of thunder and lightning, though. To that end, we do not react to the thunder or lightning, and did not respond to his fright the day before yesterday by trying to 'comfort' him. Luther settled down and all was well.

I have seen - and heard - of so many dogs that become intractable during thunderstorms (or fireworks), with devastating results. One former neighbor had an elaborate system worked out, involving as many people as they could enlist, to ensure that their dog was immediately visited in the event of an unexpected thunderstorm. So long as there was a person there - any person - apparently she'd be fine. No person, however, and she would start in on the woodwork, ripping off all the baseboards, windowsills and even the windows.

I don't know whether we've done something right in how we've handled it with Luther, or whether we've just been lucky in Luther's temperament. Maybe a little of both. But we did start early! I recall now, that the day - and day after - Luther arrived, I made sure I was home with him during the Blue Angels annual show here in Annapolis. I sat next to his crate with him, with a book, and read during the whole thing. He looked up when the loud jets first screamed over the house, but eventually settled back down for his nap.

Boy did it feel good to "clear the air"! Nothing does that quite like a storm.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Seen, tonight, the first firefly.

And the second.

And - I think - the third.

It was hard to count, competing with lightning flashes on the northwest horizon. The setting sun was almost green tonight, in a perfume haze of honeysuckle. They're calling for severe thunderstorms. The lightning bugs flitted about the top promenade, just at the edge of the woods, going no deeper. I wonder if they're scared of the thunder and lightning?

I can hardly wait for their own lightning show. . . .
picture is Maxfield Parish's Lantern Bearers