Wondering What On Earth Happened

What continues to astonish me about a garden is that you can walk past it in a hurry, see something wrong, stop to set it right, and emerge an hour or two later breathless, contented, and wondering what on earth happened. –Dorothy Gilman

This was one of those days.

I went out to plant a few seedlings I’d picked up with others in my permaculture group yesterday at a small farm/native plant grower near Concord NH, Foundwell Farm. Just a 6-pack of Swiss chard (below) and one of broccoli, plus a 4-pack of Brussels sprouts that I bought at the local farm stand this morning. Could be a 15-minute job.


Four hours later, I came back into the house.

I did actually plant all the seedlings, in several spots around the house, but whilst doing so, was reminded of urgent watering, weeding, mulching, and sign-making needs all along the way.

I was chuffed to suddenly realise that I had a lucky, albeit minor, “relative location” synergism going on. Two things happened: I planted a broccoli seedling and then wanted something to mulch it. I looked around and saw that last year’s perennial stalks could be broken and shredded to make mulch, including the straw-like stalks from three amsonia plants, which made the perfect mulch for the little seedling, without my having to transport anything anywhere to use later. Et voila!

broccoli seedling mulched with amsonia stalks
broccoli seedling mulched with amsonia stalks
amsonia shoots emerging
amsonia shoots emerging

Relative location, though not really of the structural sort. The seedlings (two of the six broccoli, actually) happened to be placed near the mulch source, and I noticed it. Had I “cleaned up” the garden last fall, the stalks would probably not have been available close by — though I could have cut them and laid them on the ground like fallen soldiers near their plants, something I often do when I cut back plants in the fall — but I had left the stalks for birds and insects to perch on and use for cover, and to wave about in the wind, so they were ready for mulch-making.

The sign-making referred to above is my effort to replace the plastic labels that come with plants, whether from a nursery or a community plant sale, which after a season or two become brittle and break in pieces when touched, or which are white sticks on which the plant name is written with disappearing ink. I asked for metal garden labels at Christmas and received 75, which isn’t enough, but along with about 100 sturdy plastic ones, and a permanent marker, I am all set this season.

two plastic plant labels (to be replaced) and a metal one
two plastic plant labels (to be replaced) and a metal one … with destroyed bird’s nest in center


brunnera with its new metal label
brunnera with its new metal label

I also finally tossed the Christmas/winter arrangement by the garage door and replaced it with this fragrant red hanging basket. The label says is a Nemesia hybrid (native to South Africa) ‘Sunsatia Cranberry’. Hardy to 30F so I will bring it in when we dip below 40 at night.


I also got the patio furniture out today!

patio furt

And noticed that the volunteer bleeding heart (Dicentra), which seems to grow from the foundation of the house in some weird gothic, Poe-like, manouever, is blooming now, before all the other bleeding hearts.

volunteer bleeding heart growing out from foundation

Thump, thump, thump, thump …


I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes. — e. e. cummings

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