Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Cirsium vulgare, beware!

Time seems to fly by once the snows have melted and our flower gardens experience their annual rebirth. There is so much to do to get the nursery ready for summer and no matter how well we plan or how hard we work, nature's interruptions set us back a few days here, a few hours there.

Gail was planting Oriental lilies this afternoon. She almost always works outside at a table crudely constructed of 6 bags of potting mix and a sheet of plywood. She worked her way through 25 Farolito lilies and 25 Casa Blancas and just finished 50 Souvenir before I got home from work. Her timing was perfect as the skies had darked and rain was eminent.

I brought in groceries and some homework and Gail threw together a box of plant labels, a packing list and two coffee cups covered with Pro Mix. Her day was over and although I wanted to do some potting myself, the rain-sleet mix suggested I consider something else. With a cup of fresh coffee,I checked our website for activity and reviewed my ever growing list of things to do.

Two years ago we built an additon to our little house. It is a 28 foot addition which includes a small office and a porch-like room. It has a Vermont Castings woodstove and great cottage style windows for easy views towards Hooker Mountain and the mountains surrounding Peacham Pond. It's a pleasant place to contemplate garden chores and look out at some of our gardens.

In front of the windows is a steep bank which we planted with 7 varieties of spirea, each a different height and color. We interplanted with over 1000 daffodils which have grown well and are now coming into bloom. It's a comforting view.

For a minute I convinced myself that the rain and sleet had stopped. I put fresh batteries in the camera and headed out for a few shots. There was more wind than I thought and the daffodils floated back and forth, wavying whites and creams and yellows. No use trying to photograph those, I thought.

My eye caught the yellow of the 6' X 8' forsythia in full bloom. It had been in bloom for over a week now and unlike some years, the entire shrub remained a mass of color. This was the first year it had bloomed like this, perhaps because of the winter, or lack of winter we experienced. I thought of the flower arrangement Gail had made for the kitchen table. Three varieties of daffodils mixed with sprays of forsythia in a round, green, hand blown glass vase. A temporary work of art to remember.

As I looked at the daffodils, my eyes fixed on a garden infiltrator, Cirsium vulgare, the Bull Thistle. Where do these things come from? Clearly they had been here last year and had been overlooked. There's one, there's another. Such symmetry! They aren't a very nice visitor, as dead or alive they are tricky to handle. I wondered if I had any cider vinegar left. I began using vinegar a couple years ago as a weed killer and is works well on thistles. A job for the next warm day I thought.

The roast chicken smells delicious. Must be almost done. Time for dinner.

Be well!

George Africa

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