William Baffin

William Baffin

Today is one of those gorgeous, summery 84F (28.8C) technicolor sort of days in which the sun is strong and bright, the sky is a brilliant blue, the puffy clouds are white and everything is green, green, green. It dazzles and I want to close my eyes but I can’t stop looking.

We have a cardinal nesting nearby and every morning he wakes us up about 5 a.m. singing outside our bedroom window. It’s the best alarm clock ever. Except who wants to get up at 5 in the morning on the weekend? Bookman and I are morning people generally and since the sunrise is at 5:25 these days and the sky at 5 is that pre-dawn gray, I tend to want to get up. It takes effort to roll over and go back to sleep with the cardinal singing and light creeping into the room. Sometimes I manage it, sometimes I don’t.

Today we made a trip to Home Depot for some cedar stakes and bird netting so we can make a tent around Boo the blueberry to

blanc double de coubert

blanc double de coubert

keep the birds and hopefully the squirrels away. We have time yet to build our contraption, the berries are still small and green, but we want to be ready because we know as soon as they hint at ripening it will be too late. We’ll blink and no blueberries for us.

The cat that found my catnip in the herb spiral a couple weeks ago keeps coming back for another roll around. He’s a lovely big black-and-white fellow who came up on our deck off the kitchen one morning to look in our sliding glass door. Waldo and

blue-eyed grass

blue-eyed grass

Dickens were eating breakfast and totally clueless until Bookman jumped up to shoo the visitor away. He left us a present of bird feathers on our garden path yesterday. I am not happy about that, but I have to take the bad with the good because he is also keeping the squirrels and rabbits away for the most part. But the catnip, the poor plant was starting to look like it was not going to make it. And then I struck on a great idea. I have an extra tomato cage so I put it over the catnip and pushed it down far enough so the cat can’t roll on it. And it has worked! The little plant is putting out new leaves and I suspect in a couple weeks will look perky and bushy again.

The veggie garden is looking pretty good. This warmth and sun should perk up the droopy tomatoes, bell peppers and basil.

fresh radishes!

fresh radishes!

The peas are growing like crazy. The beans are ready for Jack to start climbing. The lettuce is looking leafy. The spinach will probably be ready for light picking by Solstice Friday. And the radishes, they are starting to be ready for eating. They are the variety Easter egg and very mild, not the hot fiery kind. We love their crunch and that they are all different colors from white to pink to purple to red.

Solomon's seal

Solomon’s seal

Garden duties lately have been weed, weed, weed. With all the rain we’ve had it has been hard to keep up. Mulch helps keep weeds down of course but it doesn’t stop them completely. Tree seeds are especially tenacious and for them we must be vigilant. Nonetheless, every fall we end up discovering at least one or two tree sprouts that we missed because they were hiding beneath a bigger plant. When I was growing up in California I remember my dad always grumping about palm trees sprouting up everywhere. Here it’s maples and elm and the occasional oak.

bearded iris

bearded iris

My peonies still haven’t bloomed and I am starting to wonder if they are going to. The spring was so cool and damp and they got a late start. They are growing but so far they are dwarfs and have no buds. But other plants are blooming. My apricot colored bearded iris is gorgeous in the front garden at the edge of the apple trees. The roses, William Baffin (climbing) and blanc double de coubert (rugosa hybrid) are just starting to bloom. The blue-eyed grass in my front prairie garden is looking lovely as is the dwarf false indigo which has never looked as good as it does this year. And the Solomon’s seal is also starting to open its lovely understated bells.

Also in bloom are the mosquitoes, Minnesota’s state bird. No, actually the loon is the state bird but we joke about it being

dwarf false indigo

dwarf false indigo

the mosquito. Texas likes to say they do everything bigger but we have them beat when it comes to these biting bugs. Their size makes them easier to see but they still manage to evade detection. Just ask poor Bookman who has six red welts from a stealth mosquito assault while he was weeding the strawberry bed the other morning. He’s a bit allergic so of course the bugs love him. Me, of all the things I am allergic to, mosquitoes are not one of them. I seldom get bit and when I do it’s a barely noticeable little red dot that may or may not itch for an hour or two and then that’s it. Bookman gets a big red welt that itches for several days and requires frequent application of witch hazel to tame the irritation. We don’t use DEET at our house, we would rather take our chances with the mosquitoes than regularly apply pesticide to our skin. Once the mosquitoes are out, Bookman generally gardens in jeans and a long-sleeved t-shirt, but he wasn’t thinking about that the other morning. You bet he will now though.

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