Garden “Photo”Synthesis

Tired? Stressed? Eyeballs feel like they’ve been paprikashed? Take a virtual garden walk with me and get your soul back.

Unless otherwise noted, all these plants are in our actual garden, which is somewhere between English-cottage-style and botanical-reality-show (“We put a whole bunch of different plants in a small space in a climate where almost anything grows – now let’s see what happens!”) Luckily, we don’t have a homeowner’s association or anybody on our case to put in a Hank Hill lawn and a couple of micromanaged flowerbeds marshalled by ceramic gnomes instead. We allow our plants some limited slack to grow the way they want to, and they seem to like it.

Unfortunately, the marvelous smells don’t upload. Fortunately, neither do the pollen or the bees (who are actually very polite; we get at least five or six species in very noticeable numbers and none have ever stung or even landed on me. They, the butterflies, and the hummingbirds seem to know a good thing when they see one).

Zephirine Drouhin (April 2007)
A Zephirine Drouhin rose hangs from our homemade torii-gate trellis. These are antique roses with a light but velvety smell.

Wisteria (March 2007)
The wisteria climbing up the west side of the torii gate was really profuse this year.

Chrysler Imperial roses and corkscrew willow (April 2007)
Just because we’ve got a chain-link fence doesn’t mean we have to look at it all the time. This Chrysler Imperial rosebush is happy to cover it up. In the foreground is one of our corkscrew willows, growing in a large pot.

California poppies (April 2007)
These California poppies are some of the first flowers to come back every year, and are a favorite with the big bumblebees.

White sage (March 2007)
White sage is a fresh, clean, non-“girly”-smelling aromatic herb, either burned as incense or just as dried leaves in a basket. Don’t eat it though – culinary sage is a different species.

Nasturtium (April 2007)
Nasturtiums – you CAN eat these. The flowers are delicately spicy and go well in salads with butter lettuce, watercress or arugula, and fresh avocado, with a very light thyme or tarragon vinaigrette.

Anne Harkness rose (maybe) - April 2007
This rosebush came with the house, and may be an Anne Harkness. If so, I don’t know who Anne Harkness was, but I bet Georgia O’Keeffe would have liked her.

David Austin roses - May 2007
David Austin rose; another heirloom rose from back when people cared how roses smelled. Intoxicating from when they first barely open to when they’re pollinated; then the scent, its purpose fulfilled, vanishes on the first breeze.

Nigella - May 2007
Nigella. If you have a garden, you get weeds. You can traipse around yanking them all out, or you can bring in a prettier plant that out-competes them. Nigella is technically a weed, but it’s very pretty with its feathery foliage and flowers of white, blue and purple.

Dusty millers - May 2007
Dusty millers. They look like they belong on some other planet, especially just before they bloom. Also very competitive, and don’t need a lot of water.

Woad  - 2007
Woad blossoms (the tiny yellow guys) insinuate themselves among the poppies and just about everywhere else. We had a tough time getting our woad started, but now it gets everywhere. You wouldn’t guess by looking at it, but it’s a traditional source of blue pigment for, among other things, Celtic tribal war paint (remember Mel Gibson in Braveheart ?)

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