Monday, April 6, 2009

Freak Heat Waves

We're in the middle of a freak heat spell here. Yes, I did say "heat spell," but you will notice that it was prefaced by the word "freak." I feel compelled to add that in because this is not the Herald of Spring heat. It's Freak Heat. The rains are forecast for later in the week, sob.

It was so hot that I had to turn off the heat in the cold frame for the past couple of days. So hot we ate dinner two nights running on the deck. Outside. Outside on the deck. And we wore shorts and tank tops and dresses without thick woollen socks. Well, some of us did. Some of us cling like grim death to our hoodies and jeans and long sleeve shirts, just in case some random speck of sunlight tans our skin. Some of us even wear the hood of the hoodie over our head. Out in the sun. Some of us have been like this so long that some of us have forgotten why some of us do this. (have I totally confused you yet? welcome to life with my pre-teen son) But eventually it got so hot (25ºC) that even that pre-teen son I was talking about some of us eventually had to shed a layer or two in order not to die of heat stroke. Talk about worlds of wonder.

Anyhow, enough about the kids. How about those new plants, eh? (good with segues, aren't I?) In the foreground of this photo is a hellebore, also known as a Christmas Rose, given to me by my good friend Andrew. Andrew is the kind of friend every gardener should have, a) because he has a good eye for his friends' gardens, and b) because he actually thinks about what might go nicely in them. Richard, in contrast, says things like "Nice rose, why didn't you wait so I could buy that for your birthday/Mother's Day/the time I need some brownie points?" both of us knowing all the while that he has no intention of going into a garden centre. Ever. He is happy to lift and shift but has in interest otherwise. We have a 'running joke' about him having absolutely no idea what anything in the garden is called, but it's not really a joke because he really has no idea what anything is called despite having spent the past 14 years hanging out with me (it's sort of worrying actually). But Andrew, he gave me a hellebore before I even knew what they were. "It blooms in the winter, and it's nice to have something blooming then" he told me. And you know, he was right.

When we were getting ready for the Science Fair (last week), Max and I started rethinking our Pollinator Garden. It's highly ironic to me to think that I have spent the past 10 years wanting double blossomed flowers and really unusual hybrids, only to find this year that they are the last thing you want if you're looking for plants with lots of pollen. So we went out this week and got a couple of strange plants that produce a lot of pollen, are attractive to bees and butterflies, and double as berry bushes for the birds in the fall.
This is the first one: Sambucus nigra 'Madonna.' It's an elderberry. I always associate elderberries with Waldorfians, just like I associate pumpkin juice with Hogwarts, because it seems that every Waldorfian I know loves elderberries. You have only to mention the things and their eyes glaze over. (don't tell my Waldorfian MIL I said that please)

This elderberry is not the edible one, according to the internet. The berries are toxic, they say. According to the fellow at the garden centre (I feel relatively safe assuming that he has no intentions of poisoning me) as long as I cook them I am fine.
It's life on the edge here, isn't it? If you don't hear from me in the next little while, you can safely assume that those berries were toxic.

This is the other plant I acquired: Lonicera caerulea 'Kamtschatica.' Otherwise known as a Honeyberry Honeysuckle (it's that bushy thing to the left of the bird bath). "Large dark blue berries for fresh eating, jams, jellies or baking. White flowers in spring on pink stems, with lightly fragrant blue-green foliage turning yellow in fall" was what the tag said. I guess we're safe in assuming that this one is edible. I couldn't resist this one: it met almost all of my requirements. First of all, it was cheap. This is one of my Prime Directives in acquiring garden plants. They must not cause me to regret spending the grocery money on them. The other reason I liked this plant is because I'd never heard of it before. Nothing like being outwitted at the Garden Centre (makes me feel like I'm on Survivor). Finally, I like the fact that it will have berries on it. Then it can take up space and feed the kids at the same time. I won't need to break off from gardening to go inside to get them meals.
This is not a new plant - I planted these pansies last fall. I like pansies. They bloom so early in the spring here, and even though the slugs are mad about them, they still look pretty good when half-chewed (wish I could say the same about myself).

The bees like these ones, too.

This is my Fake Out Pot. It's a broken pot tucked around some squill and irises, but when people walk by it they always exclaim "Oh, that's so cute - that pot tucked in there like that!" Once someone tried to pick it up, only to haul away one of the halves. Boy, writing this makes me think jeez, sheila you are so immature, tricking your visitors like this.

This bed got an overhaul today. I removed all those beach rocks and reshaped it, disturbing a miniature ant nest in the process, not to mention many many spider nests. I was tempted to squish all those spider nests, because I am so not a fan of the Wolf Spider (I have been known to running screaming from them, ask everyone I know), but my adherence to yet another Prime Directive meant that all I could do was materialize briefly in their lives before zipping off to another planet place in the garden to inflict myself on other creatures keep digging up the grass
Honestly, I am so rule bound, aren't I?


Michelle said...

Fantastic post! I'm just learning about gardening, so this was really helpful. :)

Heather said...

Just so you are mom and dad have been married 47 years now and he still doesn't seem to know what any plants are. He has a simple solution though - he just refers to Everything as a Begonia. Seriously.

Casey said...

We're having a freak cold front -- a late freeze overnight -- so you can have this cold weather back whenever you're ready!

Your garden looks gorgeous. And I *love* the fake-out pot.

sheila said...

Thanks Michelle! I'll be looking for pictures.

Heather, I nearly died when I read what you wrote. Richard refers to everything as a geranium. Seriously. And he thinks he's hilarious. I guess I'd better get used to it...

Samantha said...

Your garden is lovely Sheila! It looks like there are so many different areas to go off and daydream in.

We are supposed to get up to 19 deg the next few days, so I'm hoping it encourages some plants to come up (except for the little sticks I stuck in the ground, it's pretty barren out front).

Anonymous said...

I can enjoy gardening vicariously through you, Sheila, and whatever you write about you make it so entertaining that I love it!

sheila said...

Casey, I don't understand how you can have such extremes down there. It's incredible. I'm hanging onto this warm weather for just a bit longer, though. In case you were wondering...

Thanks, Samantha. it's funny, someone who reads my blog (and lives here in town) dropped by last fall and her first remark was "THIS is the same place you blog about?" I could tell that the reality was a bit of a letdown!

Thankyou Nicola! Such nice compliments. (as opposed to my horribly obscure comments on your blog, eh)