Eternal Raindrops and Looking Up

August 3, 2010

Something really incredible happened in the garden today. More than the usual, everyday, run-of-the-mill incredible of growing and changing and adapting and living.

It rained this morning and because it was so intensely humid, so ungodly muggy, so suffocatingly steamy, stuffy and stifling, that now, at 9:00 at night, the water still hangs in fat drops from the flowers and stems and leaves. It still coats the grass, unabsorbed and unevaporated. The concrete patio and sidewalk is still freshly wet, as if it rained just a minute ago instead of almost 12 hours before. Do you understand how oppressive and clammy it is out there?

In my regular walk through the garden, I noticed a red-spotted purple butterfly on the butterfly bush and was soon standing in the bed making photographs as it wheeled around the spikes, taking its sweet time gathering the nectar. The underside is prettier than the flat wings, with vivid orange spots on a bright blue field, edged with white dots. When I opened my book to identify it (Peterson First Guide to Butterflies and Moths – I love these books!), I realized I had a rebel on my hands – a real madzer. Red-spotted purples usually feed on rotting fruit and (ick) animal droppings. They are not supposed to like flowers. Apparently, my butterfly has decided to break out of its barriers and act with class, dining on nectar instead of poop. Good on you, butterfly!

Dominic removed the burning bushes and the stumps today. He cut them down to the ground and then used a drill to bore hole after hole after hole in the stump in the ground, effectively grinding them into little pieces. They are gone – just like that.

Now the fun begins. I’ve decided to anchor that with another butterfly bush, as the larger size of the bush is alleviated by its airiness, a perfect combination for that corner. It won’t block the porch, but it will give it a lacy screen. A few clumps of prairie dropseed behind it, not too big and again with that airy, light feeling. The iris will be divided and put in front, where it will soak up all that full sun and bloom, bloom, bloom like it’s meant to. Lavender in front of that and coral bells and coreopsis filling in. Oh – I cannot wait until next year.

The squirrel that’s been trying to break into my neighbor’s feeder has apparently figured the way around the baffle. She just jumps from the tree trunk to the lower part of feeder, avoiding the baffle entirely and usually doesn’t miss. She’s been having a grand time cleaning the feeder out every day now. She is part of the Flying Wallendas of the treetops, a group of at least three that make their home in the trees in my yard and my neighbors. When laying in the hammock (something that I sincerely enjoy, especially with a Freeze-Pop or two) and looking up, you can see the interconnected highway that is the trees of our yards. The branches of my pin oak and honey locust nearly meet, an easy jump for an agile squirrel. My pin oak and the back yard neighbor’s tree overlap completely, so that is an easy commute, as does that same tree overlap with his ornamental which overlaps with the pear tree in the Invisible Neighbor’s yard. A quick drop from there onto her roof, a scamper across, a jump and now you’re in the farther neighbor’s tree and from there, all around the cul-de-sac. From my honey locust, they can drop to my roof and jump into the next honey locust. At that point, however, they are stuck. When we took down the Bradford pear in the front several years ago (although it’s still on Google maps satellite version), we removed a major interchange. It’s astonishingly entertaining just to look up.

The red hibiscus is blooming, but hiding its face nearly into the grass. I put a ring around it to support the stem and it’s better, but not really solved. Those flowers are enormous, about 10″ across, paper thin and Chinese dragon red. I just wish they’d look up.

The mushrooms continue to pop up, the gaillardia keeps blooming, the coneflowers are in their second wave. The delphinium was cut down to the basal crown and may rebloom this fall and the Joe Pye weed, after its second haircut of the season, surely will bloom again.

I’m having issues with the watermelon. Not only are the birds eating the tiny beginnings, but the ones that make it to the size of a large grape get an orange tinge and shrivel away. What the heck? An intense Internet search reveals nothing – I must be the only person in the country with watermelon issues beyond squash bugs. The two that are growing seem to be it for this year; maybe it’s just too late for more and that’s why they shrivel.

Bird netting for sure next year.

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