Where Violets Grow and other thoughts from the garden

Who bends a knee where violets grow, a hundred secret things shall know.” – Rachel Field

I’m putting in a little herb garden at the cottage.
Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme.
Basil, Dill, Cilantro, and Chives, too.

It rained this morning and I bought plants in the mist. It seemed right somehow, to be buying seeds and plants in the spring rain.

In early early spring Mr. H.C. tilled up a long space of dirt in front of the peonies, day lilies, and the lilac bush. These old favorites were here when we moved in — just a long line of perennials that had weeds and grass in the bed and really needed something else to make them look pleasing. It’s in the back of the house, so I mulled around various ideas: a cut flower garden, more perennials, even transplanting the peonies so they could bloom where people could see them. Because really, peonies need to be seen, not hidden away in the back yard. But from what I’ve read, peonies don’t really take to being transplanted. And these two peonies are Very Large, Old Favorite varieties from way back when…

What do you think of a long line of herbs in the front?

Yes, I liked the idea too. And because there is lots of space, four blueberry bushes will be planted there next to the herbs. And caged. Because we have deer, raccoons, squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, and a groundhog (with two babies!) who live under the tool shed. And a large opossum knocked on the front door last night. I really don’t know if opossums like blueberry bushes, but my guess is they probably do… And the rabbits around Apple Hill are unafraid of anything. Look how close little Flossie let me get to her last night:

So I’ve been weeding this new herb bed. I don’t really mind for it lets me breathe, think, pray, drink in the beauty of spring, and lean on the shovel. For awhile I was pulling up all the little violet plants, and then I wondered why in the world was I pulling them up? Violets are among my favorite spring wildflowers, and I certainly don’t care if they grow among the herbs. Violet flowers are edible and look beautiful in salads or sugared on cakes. In my old back-to-the-land hippie days I made violet jelly once. It didn’t taste like much, but oh, it was the most beautiful shade of fuchsia. The leaves are edible too, so I tried a couple of young tender violet leaves. They don’t taste like much either, but then neither does spinach raw from the garden…

My second favorite wild flowers are daisies. I’ve found several patches growing wild around the cottage, so I moved them into the bed as well. And if the little herb garden gets taken over by daisies and violets, well, that’s fine with me. It’s called the Que Sera Sera method of gardening.

My herbs are planted, seeds and plants both, and the blueberries are being planted as you are reading this. And there’s plenty of shovel-leaning going on too…

Capturing Mist

The wispy mist floats

Fog fingers through the valley

Heaven blowing smoke


Air marries water

Leaves whisper melancholy

Mountains rise above.

Droplets sing, haze slips

Silently over the green

Defeating the sun

Tomorrow the gray

Has become just a skirmish

Sungold glow returns

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Capturing the mist

Is finding the diamond world

Reflecting the sky.

The last snow of spring

Our bird feeder sat on the porch table all winter long, filled with sunflower seeds, untouched by any flying, hopping, or scurrying creatures.

It isn’t that we don’t have flying, hopping, or scurrying creatures: we’ve had flocks of Bluebirds in January, and a mischief of mice invaded our kitchen; herds of deer decimate our gardens; a labor of moles have invaded our lush lawn (that’s a joke, folks); last year a chorus of cicadas denuded our trees;  a loveliness of ladybugs live on the west side of the house all autumn; and right now we’re battling a colony of ants. Yes, I’ve written about critters before.

So where were the birds this winter? My best guess is that since we had very little snow, they weren’t starving and didn’t visit out feeder.

But a week ago we had (what we hope was) the last snow of spring. Snow dusted the ground, the daffodils, and tree branches. And a little visitor found our bird feeder. I didn’t get a picture of him that day; he was skitter-ish, but he discovered that the attack cat is fat and lazy, and his true bravery emerged. Plus he likes sunflower seeds.

Haiku for Squirrel

Red squirrel skitters
Sliding in the slick spring snow
His winter stash spent.

I’m not concerned about a solitary squirrel, but I certainly don’t want a drey of squirrels nesting on the porch this spring or a scurry of squirrels stealing our walnuts this fall.