Yard & Garden Notes: South Common Historic District

This is the third post in what I expect will be irregular updates on the progress of cultivated and wild things on my family’s property in the South Common Historic District.–PM

The past two weeks have been hectic at home because my wife, Rosemary, broke her right wrist, and our son, Joe, came home from college for the summer, which required a road trip to Syracuse, N.Y. Plus, we had a spell of murk and drizzle that kind of blotted out a week or so. With the sun strong, there was a chance to get out in the yard and even notice what’s happened in 14 days. All of a sudden we have a triple canopy of foliage in our back woodlot giving us a deep green surround for our comings and goings. I planted 200 zinnia seeds from Johnny’s Selected Seeds in Winslow, Maine—Benary’s Giant Mix, Benary’s Giant Golden Yellow and Giant Orange, the Oklahoma Salmon, and a Giant Red. I wanted big flowers this year after seeing the astounding varieties at the Stevens-Coolidge Place gardens in North Andover. That’s where I got the Johnny’s tip last summer. Stevens-Coolidge is a Trustees of Reservations property, one of many across the state. Consider donating to the organization.

johnny's seeds

Our silky purple irises began to blossom, three so far, with buds on another ten plants. The red hibiscus shoots are sturdy, and the chive is getting taller. A bunch of parsley that stayed green all winter is renewing itself. We’ve got one rosa rugosa bush transplanted from the New Hampshire seacoast that has tripled in size in three years. I always called it a beach rose before learning the formal name. The blossoms are fragrant to the max. It’s become the centerpiece of the front rank of our garden. Everything in the garden looks robust, which portends well for the summer. For fun, I bought a large, happy, sitting brown Buddha at Lowe’s this week and set him up on a piece of granite where he can survey Nature’s progress even if he fails as a scarecrow. I’ve got some rudbeckia or black-eyed susans that appear to be coming back from last fall. The stonecrop, two kinds, and baby’s breath or Gypsophila are back in force. Morning glories are twisting around every nearby stick or stem or tomato pole in the section of the garden shaded by a twenty-year-old Japanese maple, whose brilliant purplish-red leaves make a vibrant contrast to the dominant green foliage, maples and oaks and evergreens all around.

I used orange-red mulch in a side garden with a lot of lilies and irises, as well as around a line of hostas on the west side of the yard. Elsewhere, along the driveway, I spread black mulch to try to neaten up the edges.

Yesterday, Rosemary picked out five or six different flowers and plants to fill four hanging pots that we’ve had in the side garden mentioned above. They hang from a five-foot iron holder that gets sunk into the garden on each end. It’s great for adding height to a garden that is pretty quiet otherwise.

And that’s the report for tonight. More on the skunks, woodchuck, and mourning doves next time.