Saturday, April 24, 2010

Don't Hate Me Because I'm Beautiful!*

* Really! ;-)

Those in the Know may recall that I have been embracing a healthier lifestyle, lately.  It's not that I have been unhealthy or indeed that I really needed to alter my daily habits in any way.  I am alarmingly pudgy and out of shape  in perfect health and have retained the healthy glow of my youth quite nicely,  in spite of the numerous demands of my busy life!  However,  I am nothing if not forward-thinking and,  as such,  I felt it behooved me to lose that ugly twenty pounds of flab! set a good example of healthy fitness for the younger generation.  No need to applaud.  That is just the sort of selfless thing for which I am famous.

Although...  it would all be a bit more pleasant if diets actually worked a little faster,  in my opinion.  There have been centuries of scientific and medical research - how come "they" haven't come up with an easy and quick way for people to lose weight?  To be perfectly honest,  I think it is a very poor showing from the scientific community! 

Nevertheless,  I am not one to fuss about the inadequacies of others.  Here is the important thing:  I have actually begun to lose weight!   Not as quickly as I had hoped,  mind you,  but losing nonetheless.  My goal is to lose 20 pounds by June 1,  which seems reasonable as long as I starve myself follow a sensible weight-loss diet and engage in regular exercise.  It would be a snap,  really,  if not for one thing:  hunger.   Likewise,  the exercise component of the programme would work out a whole lot better,  (are you listening,  Health Nazis?)  if one were able to take in enough food to provide the energy to exercise!  In spite of the obvious idiocy of conventional weight-loss orthodoxy,  I have persevered and am proud to report that I have lost 8 pounds thus far.  Not bad,  if I do say so myself!

 Those in the Know are probably dying to hear about the progress I've made in the garden since I last posted.   I would like to remind everyone that it is not what is done every single day that matters,  but what one accomplishes over time that is really important.  One must take the macro* view,  see the bigger picture,  open up the mind to a world of possibilities!  Indeed,  I haven't done a darn thing!   have been so busy with household matters that I have done less than I had hoped over the past few days,  but the fruits of last week's labours become more apparent all the time.

The garden is filling in nicely as perennials are coming up to replace the fading spring bulbs,  and with the last couple of wet days,  the Bleeding Hearts are even more beautiful than ever!  I told you before that they do well in Newfoundland and this is such amusing evidence!  "Springtime" in St John's is something of a joke due to the months of bone-chilling rain, drizzle and fog which are typical on an island out in the north Atlantic located right at the collision-point of the Gulf Stream and the Labrador Current.  But cool, wet weather is exactly what Dicentra loves!  This is why it is not as well-known in the Midwest - springtime here is an actual season which usually fits the descriptions in poetry and literature - that is,  a mild,  often sunny season with blazing sunlight touching even the parts of the garden which would normally have summer shade (such as under trees).  Those spots are where Bleeding Hearts usually like to grow;  they dislike a lot of direct sunlight,  they prefer cooler weather and they love to be watered often:  <-  conditions which are plentiful in St John's in spring,  but far less commonly found in the Midwest.  Therefore,  it is always fun to watch a Bleeding Heart,  planted under the canopy of enough early budding trees and shrubs to provide a bit of protection from direct sunlight,  simply bursting into prolific bloom and growing as if on steroids during the brief spasms of cooler, wetter weather the Midwest is known for between hot, dry spells.  Check out my Bleeding Hearts today!

By the way,  if one squints very hard at the second photo,  one can just make out the veritable sea of Bluebells in the woods beyond our garden.  That gorgeous display belongs to our neighbors,  whose own garden is a woodland paradise  pretty nice.  I am  green with envy  delighted to have such a fine display right next door,  and have been hoping quite fervently that those Bluebells will just migrate on over here into our woodland borders, too, so that  they can stop showing us up,  darn it!  we can enjoy the beautiful blue wave each spring, too!  It is true that our kind neighbors have generously invited me more than once to go ahead and take some cuttings to transplant into our own woods,  but that sounded like too much work  I prefer to let nature take its course.   I am nothing if not lazy a nature lover.

Flipping through my gardening books last night,  I was looking for the name of a little shrub out by the front door which I had almost yanked out in an ignorant, impatient weeding frenzy  accidentally one year.  It could have happened to anyone as clueless as myself anybody:  literally,  this thing was like a bent stick scraggling up out of the ground and not at all attractive at first glance.  I was so glad that some serendipitous instinct made me leave it there/ wait and see what it would do,  because later that fall,  it blazed out in the most gorgeous fall colors I have ever seen such a small shrub display.   I was delighted,  but  I am mortified  amused to report that even then I considered it to be some sort of weedy shrub blown there from the surrounding woods.  The following spring,  I again nearly tore it out of the ground,  as it showed small weedy-looking blooms which I ignorantly  naturally associated with dandelion seedheads.  Again,  however,  my  forgetfulness unerring instincts saved the day!  This went on for several years:  my intention to remove that "weed"  combined with my forgetting  deciding not to do so due to mysterious Mother Earth instincts which I apparently possess in abundance!

So, the other day I saw the spring blooms again (after very nearly ripping it out the week before when it, once again, looked like a broken twig poking up out of the ground).  Brilliantly thinking,  "Hey!  Maybe that is some sort of Bottlebrush plant!"  because of the flowers,  I started looking for something like that in Illinois weed resources.  No luck (and Bottlebrush Plants are native to Australia - oops!).  Then,  last night I was flipping through one of the gardening books I have owned for years and there,  as plain as day,  was a photograph of this plant in bloom!  It was a considerably more attractive-looking specimen in the book,  needless to say,  but the flowers were unmistakable.  It said right there in the book that these plants are renowned for their brilliant fall color.  Imagine my relief that my inherent gardening ability helped me to save this little plant from destruction!   Its name is a little disappointing, though,  I have to admit:  fothergilla.  Seriously.  Very lame unimaginative.  However,  it is almost as though someone somewhere along the way shared my talent for beautiful, fun and descriptive names because I later discovered that the common name for this plant is Witch Alder,  which is perfect!  It has that extraordinary glowing orange fall colour right around Hallowe'en and with its gnarly, twiggy dark branches in between,  has a delightful spooky appearance.  I love it!  I shall never refer to it by its boring botanical name again.  Witch Alder it is!  I plan to look for more at the nursery on my next visit because I'd like to scatter several throughout the yard at the front of the woods in order to be able to enjoy flashes of that fiery color all over the place next fall.  Here is a photo of our current humble specimen (it is not planted in an ideal spot,  which may account for its slow and spindly growth:  certainly it is not due to my neglect and constant threats of removal over the past 5 years!):

Incidentally,  the leaves on this plant resemble those of the Witch Hazel tree in our backyard,  though they are much smaller and otherwise the plants are dissimilar.  I thought that was kind of interesting.

One last item regarding gardening before I move on.  Several times recently,  I've had an unsettling experience when boring  regaling people with interesting tales of my garden adventures.  People listen for a few moments and then interrupt me to ask what vegetables I am growing!   Vegetables!?    I am telling them about my glorious perennial and shrub and annual garden projects and they ask about vegetables!   Of course,  I always hastily switch gears as best I can,  mentioning the container tomatoes (and sometimes peppers,  if I am really bored ambitious that summer)  that I usually cultivate on the deck,  but this show of courtesy and versatility on my part is often met by perplexed stares.   I never embarrass others by pointing out their stupidity  (I am nothing if not tactful!),  but let us come straight to the point:  growing vegetables is not gardening,  it is farming.  Farming is an honorable and worthwhile pursuit,  but I am not a farmer.   I am a sometime gardening hobbyist  gardener.  Get it right,  people!

That is all for today.  I am well aware that I have skipped a couple of days posting,  but considerate people would never draw attention to something like that.

Good Day to All!

* As usual,  I provide Those in the Know with little educational gifts sprinkled throughout my posts.  Macro is one of those intelligent-sounding words for which I am famous.  I won't give the meaning because I have no idea what it means  I prefer not to spoil the adventure of a vocabulary hunt for others.  No need to thank me.