Yard & Garden Notes: South Common Historic District

This is the fourth is what will be an occasional series of bulletins about the cultivated and wild things on my property in the South Common Historic District, upland from Hale’s or River Meadow Brook and the Concord River, just at the edge of the industrial core of the city. For its location, we have a surprising number of trees on our long, narrow lot, which provide habitat for birds in particular. Skunks, raccoons, woodchucks, gray squirrels, and other four-footed furry people either live here or make regular visits.—PM

The zinnias from Johnny’s Seeds in Maine are popping up, but not nearly as well as I had hoped after planting 200 seeds of four different types. As a backup, I bought a full flat of advanced zinnias from Sykes the Florist of Lawrence Street, my go-to garden-and-flower place. Their zinnias were about eight inches tall with broad deep green leaves without a spot or nick on them. Beauties. They’re all in now, having done well with the transplant. I also picked up a raft of light purple pansies for one border of the big garden, the smaller flower kind that are a good bet to last all summer. The irises bloomed, deep silky purple, almost translucent violet, yellow with brown accents, and an amazing burnt-orange blossom on three that were gifts two years ago. Many of my plants are from generous gardeners whom I know. The sharing culture among informal gardeners is one of those social glue things that make a sense of community in a place. Another friend gave me six starter tomato plants, San Marzano, which he swears will be the prize of the garden by August. I wasn’t going to have tomatoes this year because my yield has gone down in the past two summers, probably because I was planting in the same area and draining the soil of nutrients. Tomatoes will do that. But I could not turn down the offer of the San Marzanos, and found some out-of-the-way spots in the garden to set them in.

Random items like a rangy clover with white-and-purple caps (I pulled a few bunches along the sidewalk on South Street a few years ago) and leggy yarrow with lacy white flowers are spreading through the middle of the garden. I’ve got a red hibiscus that’s coming back after making a big show last summer (got that one from Lowe’s garden department), and morning glories are thriving on their way to making white blossoms that seem outsized for the crawling vine. The beach rose bush is producing like crazy, matching its mates in the planting beds between Thorndike Street and the South Common. There’s been a swath of pale pink this week for the drivers and walkers to admire, while my bush has much redder blossoms. Light pink dianthus, daisies, and a small lemon-yellow flower represent their kind in this semi-encyclopedic mix. A bit of this and that with some emphasis like the zinnias and irises.


Photos by Joe Marion