Walking, Not Smiling

Yesterday, spouse and I went to Kezar Lake in Sutton NH, as we often do, but instead of us both walking around it, this time he brought his canoe. He took off from the inlet, after checking in with the Lake Host on the other side of the lake (the Lake Host is there to check for invasive species that could be tagging along on watercraft), and paddled an almost-straight trajectory through the marshy area — and over two small beaver dams, where he had a surprise encounter with a large snapping turtle — across the lake to the beach side, while I meanwhile walked the 3-mile road around the lake.


During the entire hour my walk took (his paddle was considerably shorter), the sound of a speeding motor boat with water-skier was grating on my eardrums like fingernails on a chalkboard. Among perhaps 10 canoists, kayakers, people fishing in bass boats, and folks in slow moving pontoon boats was this one power boat, zipping and circling around the lake, apparently heedless of the two adult loons and one chick in the water.



I watched the boat almost drive right over on adult loon. I couldn’t get the bow number on the boat, unfortunately, because while power boats are allowed on the small lake, harassing loons by being too close to them is illegal.

So dismay, anger, fear for the loons, frustration were coursing through my veins, and the noise of the clamorous power boat ringing in my ears. (I realise it doesn’t bother lots of people, but it bothers me. Sort of like the effect of Mary Hart’s voice on Kramer, in Seinfeld)

Then I watched a young (10-ish) boy in the water with a large (beautiful) doberman dog, pretending to shoot it repeatedly with a stick close to the dog’s face, then splashing water on the dog’s face. The dog seemed unsure what to do, moving away from the boy but not entirely out of the water, barking once or twice, not seeming to know how to respond. If there were parents nearby, they did nothing to stop what seemed to me like taunting behaviour. The dog seemed confused, the boy persisted, and I felt sad watching this interaction.

Then I rounded the corner,  where a slightly older man, walking the opposite direction, jokingly (I guess?) said, “You’re only halfway done!” My response and the set of my mouth was apparently not what he felt they should be, because he followed up with “Smile, young lady!”

If you know me, you know I don’t swear aloud much, but with the motor boat sound, the recklessness of the boat and the danger to the loons, the way I interpreted the dog interaction, I was this close to telling him to STFU. Instead, because I know that reaction would be unkind, rude, and not compassionate, on the one hand, and I also know it would be escalatory and potentially dangerous on the other hand, I kept walking, serious face and all, angry, downhearted, and disquieted. Definitely not smiling.

When I had earlier met this man on the other side of the lake, with no other people around, and he had boomed out “Hello there!” in a sort of odd way (I felt), I’d had a slight frisson of discomfort, and now I was very thankful I was near the beach, among a small crowd people, even the taunting boy and his lax parents, because I know that what can follow non-compliance to the command “Smile, young lady!” is verbal abuse, attempts at intimidation, or worse.

I left that encounter walking fast (-er than usual) and furious, eventually breathing normally again, eventually letting my senses take over, smelling the air, observing what was around me, feeling the road and my ligaments and muscles as I moved, listening for the bird calls through the sound of the power boat.

A half-mile later or so, I encountered this lovely Yellow Wooly Bear (Spilosoma virginica), who obligingly curled itself around my offered clover stem so I could move it off the road.


Then later a white admiral butterfly (Limenitis arthemis … there is also a red-spotted purple form of the same species) —


And this interesting fungus formation —



I realise that some folks (even some women) don’t understand why many women react so strongly to being told to “smile.” They don’t understand how it’s patronising and demeaning, this auditing and evaluating (by complete strangers!) of another person’s emotions, this assertion of a right to control someone else’s emotions or the way those emotions show up on their face.  Here’s some help for those folks:

The Sexism of Telling Women To Smile, in Atlantic: “I couldn’t imagine that my facial expression should affect strangers in any way. I couldn’t understand how I was supposed to just go about life smiling at nothing all the time. It’s pretty nonsensical. Why would I smile for the duration of a 30-minute walk?  I felt it was very much about them, not me — as if my facial expression was a reflection of them, I wasn’t a whole person with thoughts and feelings of my own, and I was put on this earth to reassure men they were adequate on a daily basis. And I was viscerally aware that this rule only applied to me because I was female.”

Men, we need to stop telling women to ‘Smile!’ by Matthew Hansen in the Dallas News : “”You really should smile,” a man will say. Or: “Why you so mad? Smile!” Or: “You’re pretty. You would be prettier if you smiled.” In this moment, Rosie Meegan is faced with a choice that nearly all women recognize, and a choice of which most men are blissfully unaware. She can smile, even though a male stranger telling her to smile makes her feel the exact opposite of smiley. Or she can say no and potentially face his wrath. … ‘It assumes that I’m a decoration in your life, an ornament, here to give you pleasure.’ … By my count, I have talked to 19 women about ‘Smile!’ All 19 said it has happened to them. Most said it happens regularly. All 19 said they don’t like it. In some cases it’s simply grating. In other cases, it carries a vaguely menacing undertone — fear is a main reason women do force a smile, women told me. Most depressingly, all 19 women I spoke to considered it a fact of life, part of the tax that women must pay. And here I am, drifting through days during which no one ever requests that I change facial expression.”

Nope, from Shakesville: “Telling people to ‘smile’ and/or ‘laugh’ is not, in fact, nice. Telling people how to behave is an assertion of ownership; it is disdainful of individual agency, a failure to acknowledge boundaries and autonomy. That auditing other people’s emotions could be considered ‘nice’ is absurd.” (She’s responding to a “Do Something Nice” campaign in Vancouver, which is why she keeps using the word ‘nice.'”)

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s “Stop Telling Women to Smile” street art project: “I am not here for you.”


I have male friends (and a few older female friends) who sometimes make it known that they like it (me?) more when I smile (e.g., if I post a non-smiling photo on Facebook, I usually get at least one “Where’s that pretty smile?” or “I’d rather see you smiling” comment). I’m ambivalent about that — when it’s actual people who know me and really might have my best interest at heart, who really might feel sad because I look sad — but my response is totally unambivalent when a stranger on the street instructs me to look or feel the way he wants me to: I’m not here for you.

Yes, being told to smile — generally by men who are only acting on what they’ve learned and internalised, who aren’t intending harm — is a minor thing compared with the kinds of oppression, suppression, violence, and the threat of violence that many people face daily. Everything is relative. But it is a regular reminder for many women that being pretty, seeming attainable and non-threatening, looking agreeable and cheerful no matter what we feel, are what’s expected of us as full-fledged autonomous human beings in this culture, and that when those cultural expectations aren’t met — when we don’t smile on command or if we respond with something benign like “No thanks, I don’t feel like it” — men may retaliate with slurs, intimidation, threats, verbal abuse, and rarely (I hope), physical abuse. As one of the women in the Atlantic article says, just being told to smile makes us feel watched and vulnerable. Being called “bitch!” when we don’t smile makes us feel worse.

A woman quoted in the Dallas News article says that though she used to force a smile in response, and apologize, and feel bad about herself without understanding why, now she “she doesn’t smile on command, even though she’s risking the possibility that the benevolent sexism will turn into something worse — the hostility often reserved for women who refuse to accept gender norms.”

I guess that’s where I am, unwilling to smile on command; it’s certainly where I was yesterday, when I was feeling dismayed by humans and our wanton aggression and destructiveness. And I don’t want to add to the culture’s already high level of resentment, aggression, and anger by rudely rebuffing a probably well-meant (or at least unthinking) attempt at encouragement; but on the other hand, I think I have a right to look and feel the way I do, without being told to change because a stranger is uncomfortable with it.

Being told to smile leaves me with no good option here — either I ignore it, probably appearing rude and dismissive; or I react angrily, which will almost surely evoke resentment and retaliation (toward me or a convenient scapegoat); or I smile or make a joke — one woman says “I’m trying to cut down” when men tell her to smile — but that seems to me a capitulation equal to smiling on command, seeking to help him feel comfortable about her demeanor — and in fact her being.

So men (and a few women), please, please stop telling strangers, and even acquaintances and coworkers, to smile. If we’re looking serious, sad, angry, upset, dismayed, or anxious, we probably are, and you’re not going to turn that frown upside down by force or by even by suggestion. If you want us to really smile, give us a reason to do it: do something kind, say something genuinely funny, or just smile at us without expecting repayment in kind.  Thanks.

Black-eyed Susans along road



I’ll Settle for the Rain

“August rain: the best of the summer gone, and the new fall not yet born. The odd uneven time.” — Sylvia Plath, journal entry dated 8 August 1952

It’s 61F and pouring outside now at 5 p.m. It’s been raining like this all day and hasn’t been much warmer. I’ve been wearing long pants and purple fleece, drinking cup after cup of jasmine tea, and, yes, there’s a woodstove fire.


And yes, we had s’mores, with dark chocolate and vegetarian (vegan, actually) marshmallows.



We’ve had a visiting neighbour cat with us since 8 a.m., meowing under our windows shortly after the rain began. She’s been sleeping 90% of the time, first in the bed with me for an hour, then on the love seat in the sitting room (surrounded by windows), then on a guest bed in spouse’s office, on a chair below the fly-tying desk in his office, under a bed in the guest room, and now on the sofa near us and the fire.

sleeping on the sitting room love seat
sleeping on chair under desk – cozy!
watching me outside while she stays warm and dry inside the sunroom


She apparently minds the rain. But I don’t. I walked around without a coat or hood for a little while late this afternoon, collecting images of the rain and mist, the ponding and puddling, the way the limbs are heavy, the vibrancy of the colours.

rain water pooling on patio
goldenrod nodding into rain-filled wheelbarrow
rainwater gushing over rain barrel
mist and rain on the slope (raspberry bushes)
part of front garden in rain and mist
waterlogged black-eyed Susans
very red peaches
dogwood leaves
burdock leaf browning and soggy

This odd, uneven time.


“Well, I’d like to have the ocean / But I’d settle for the rain” — Rosanne Cash, from “World of Strange Design”

Lettuce Harvest, Sort Of

A couple of weeks ago, I reaped a giant harvest of lettuce — wild lettuce, that is, probably Lactuca biennis, or tall blue lettuce, as it was tall and had blue flower buds before being pulled brutally from the ground. (Unfortunately, I just read that it has a stout taproot, which I did not extract.) Some individuals were 8 or 9 feet tall, a bit shorter than their maximum extension of 12 feet or so.

harvest (weed-pulling) of six or seven of them
leaf shape
the flower buds against my shoe … you can see they are bluish or purple

I left a couple smaller ones in the ground in various spots around the yard because I want to see the bloom, though of course that’s a decision fraught with consequences.


Go Botany mentions that “Native Americans used a decoction of the roots of tall blue lettuce to treat pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and heart trouble.” I did not make any decoction, but as I didn’t actually pull up roots, I guess I still could.

There’s also Lactuca canadensis, also native and tall, but that species has yellow flowers. I see it in the woods, I think, but it’s not in the yard, yet.


“Mystics are experts in laziness. They rely on it,
because they continuously see God working all around them.
The harvest keeps coming in, yet they
never even did the plowing!” — Rumi

August Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day

It’s mid-August and it feels like summer is about over. I’m not sure why, but the summer felt less summery than normal, not as warm. For the second half of July and the first half of August, 18 of 30 days actually posted above normal high temperatures, averaging about 3 degrees warmer than usual among those days; but the other 12 days, which were below normal for high temps, were almost 9 degrees cooler than usual. Maybe that’s why it’s felt less summery lately. Low temps recently have been in the high 40s to mid 50s, so we’ve even closed windows a few nights because we didn’t want the heat (set at 60) to kick on.

I haven’t kept close track of the rain but that’s because there’s been enough rain this summer that I have rarely had to water, especially in the last month. For which I’m grateful.

Let’s look at some plants!


Veggies and Peaches

veggie garden a bit overgrown with flowers
basil, peppers, tomatoes

If some critter had not gotten into the veggie garden while I was away for two weeks in late July, I imagine there’d be a great bounty of tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, lettuce, Swiss chard, arugula, beans, and peppers.

As it turned out, thanks to a groundhog or some other varmint that didn’t breach the fishing wire fence (so not a deer), there’s been no squash, almost no tomatoes, lettuce, chard, or green beans, a few peppers, and less arugula and fewer cucumbers than there should be.

unyielding squash plant
visiting cat Peaches’ head, with red romaine that is trying to grow again

The only plants to escape the wrath of the chewing critter were basil and garlic, so I’ve made a lot of pesto.

second garlic harvest
10 basil plants instilled into one of the garlic beds (7 Aug)

Tomatoes are trying to make a comeback now, as is chard, arugula, and the cucumbers.

cucumbers, basil, tomatoes, sad little romaine
cucumber harvest today
arugula regrowing

The peaches are coming along, although friends in neighbouring towns have already harvested and frozen theirs. Some of ours are getting a blush and growing a bit bigger. Next year I will be even more brutal in early culling, if we’re lucky enough to have flowers and fruits again. One large branch was still so heavy that it split from the tree. We lost a hundred peaches or so, and the tree is further damaged (the trunk was bored into a few years ago).

peach tree damage
fruit guild with two peach trees


Perennials (mostly)

Small colonies of Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed) grow in two spots, next to the veggie garden, and on the other side of the house in the fruit guild. Usually there are lots of Sphex pensylvanicus (great black digger wasps) on it, but not this year, just a couple of golden great digger wasps so far.

Sphex Ichneumoneus (great golden digger wasp) on asclepias

Other pollinators like it, too:

bumblebee on asclepias
monarch butterfly on asclepias
honeybee on asclepias



Another favourite of pollinators is echinacea (coneflower), though certain varieties — in my garden, it’s a magenta watercoloury echinacea called ‘Pow Wow Wild Berry’ and a white one called ‘Primadonna White’ — don’t attract any. On the other hand, ‘Bravado,’ ‘Magnus Pink,’ ‘Purple Emperor,’ and the common unvarietied Echinacea purpurea all seem to attract a multitude of bees, butterflies, and hoverflies. I’ve got echinacea all over the yard: near the vegetable garden, in the fruit guild, in the back border (three or four varieties among seven or eight clumps), and in the front yard as well.

painted lady butterfly on echinacea
yellow swallowtail and painted lady butterflies on echinaceas
large yellow swallowtail butterfly on echinacea
monarch butterfly on echinacea
Toxomerus marginatus hoverfly on echinacea
bumblebee carrying pollen on echinacea
fritillary butterfly on echinacea
echinacea with two painted lady butterflies and one yellow swallowtail butterfly
‘Purple Emperor’ echinacea (front yard)
‘Pow Wow Wild Berry’ echinacea (back border)
‘Primadonna White’ echinacea (back border)



I’m not a huge fan of hydrangea but I inherited two types (one white shrubby type in the rock wall, one traditional blue type — which looks healthy but hasn’t bloomed this year) and actually bought a few others, including a PG hydrangea tree form for $15 at a sale and some (usually) non-flowering ‘Bail Day’ hydrangeas with variegated leaves.

back border with phlox, veronicastrum, and PG hydrangea
shrubby hydrangea in rock wall; we had to cut out a lot of dead branches from it in the spring but it seems OK now
white hydrangea flower – shrub version in rock wall
‘Bail Day’ hydrangea (blooms after very mild winters — not this past one)
leaf detail from ‘Bail Day’ hydrangea (30 May)


Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Fascination’ is one of my favourite tall flowering perennials, perfect for the back of borders. It likes to faint and flail all over the place, taking the bumblebees and honeybees with it.

veronicastrum, grasses, and echinacea in back border
bumblebee on veronicastrum
orange-belted bumblebee and another pollinator on veronicastrum
two bumblebees and ant on veronicastrum
painted lady butterfly on veronicastrum
silver spotted skipper butterfly on veronicastrum
maybe a summer azure (Celastrina neglecta) butterfly on veronicastrum
back border with veronicastrum and phlox



I’ve got bunches of tall phlox around the yard, most of it shared by friends, so species/varieties aren’t known. I do know a few names, varieties I bought from nurseries, including Phlox paniculata ‘Wendy House’ (magenta), Phlox paniculata ‘Jade’ (white), Phlox glaberrima ‘Anita Kistler’ (which bloomed in July), and a Phlox hybrid called “Intensia Neon Pink,’ which was eaten the first year I planted it but has become a great bloomer in the four years since.

Phlox paniculata ‘Jade’
white phlox in back border from a friend
‘Wendy House” magenta phlox with hydrangea
‘Wendy House” magenta phlox in the back border
pink and white phlox from a friend, in the back border
Phlox ‘Intensia Neon Pink’


Some more purple, blue, and pink things (and a tiny bit of red):

thyme flowering with bumblebee (and bits of red crocosmia dropped onto it from above)
juniper, heather, and dwarf Alberta spruce
‘Red Fox’ veronica
common burdock by back door
burdock flowers with bumblebee
burdock flower
pink zinnia with bumblebees
‘Turkish Delight’ sedum buds
Prunella vulgaris (heal all) in lawn, with bumblebee
perovskia (Russian sage)
buddleia (butterfly bush) and Swiss chard
buddleia (butterfly bush) with large milkweed bug (Oncopeltus fasciatus)
elderflower berries
Echinops bannaticus ‘Blue Globe’ (globe thistle)
Echinops bannaticus ‘Blue Globe’ (globe thistle) with hoverfly, I think
burgundy-orange daylily in the rock wall
small patch of crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ at corner of house


And some yellow things; I don’t plant many yellow things, so these are mostly self-seeders and flowers from seed mixes:

painted lady butterfly on vanilla marigolds (I planted them)
wasp on goldenrod
Melissodes sp. (long-horned bee) and native Megachile sp. (leaf-cutter bee) — both pollinators — on goldenrod
common thread-waisted wasp on goldenrod
lots of self-seeding goldenrod
Queen Anne’s Lace, fennel and dill flowers in fruit guild
riot of flowers, including asclepias, black-eyed Susan, echinacea, and Queen Anne’s Lace, in fruit guild
black-eyed Susans (from seed mix) in fruit guild
closer look at black-eyed Susans, with little pollinator
yellow daylily in rock wall
‘Angelina’ sedum flower in back border (I planted this)
one of three Inula heleniums (aka elecampane or horse-heal) in the yard, this is the tallest at 7 or 8 feet … I planted this and am so happy to see it blooming after 3 years
Inula helenium (elecampane) blooms
Inula helenium (elecampane) bloom


Finally, a few odds and ends. There are always odds and ends, aren’t there?

‘So Sweet’ hosta flowers
‘Loyalist’ hosta flowers
common thread-waisted wasp on an allium bloom (last year’s leek, I believe, forgotten in the ground)
Andrena sp. (mining bee) on Queen Anne’s lace
surprise garter snake in the lawn near the veg garden
purple geranium (maybe Johnson’s blue) and ‘Hab Grey’ sedum
twelve-spotted skimmer dragonfly
surprise cilantro flowers in front garden with echinacea and weeping white spruce … I didn’t plant cilantro this year and have never planted it in the front yard.
ruby-throated hummingbird on crocosmia stem (taken from inside the house)
ruby-throated hummingbird (juvenile or female) on crocosmia


“I feel like a time traveler:
June, July, August.
Summer dissolves in my mouth
and I can’t remember what it tasted like.”
— Zoë Lianne, “Erasure”


Thanks for stopping by! Come back in September, when the willow gentian, caryopteris ‘Longwood Blue,’ Joe Pye weed, clethra (summersweet), and asters, among other plants, will be popping pink, purple, and blues around the yard.


More GBBD, hosted at May Dreams Gardens:

… danger garden – Crocosmia!

… Late to the Garden Party  (south coastal California) – that Callistemon ‘Cane’s Hybrid’ and the view beyond it are luscious!

Lead Up the Garden Path (Devon, UK) – I’ve never seen a peacock butterfly before

… Commonweeder (western Mass.) – similar plants to some in my garden, but the clethra and asters are blooming ahead of mine

… Dirt Therapy (Vancouver, WA) – some gorgeous photos

Inhabiting the Whole Garden

Yesterday I was part of an ad hoc group of 10 or so mostly permaculture gardeners who visited Distant Hill Gardens, set on 58 acres straddling the small towns of Alstead and Walpole, NH. (Map.) The co-owner, Michael Nerrie, led an almost-three-hour tour of the many gardens that make up Distant Hill: a pollinators/monarch butterfly meadow, a flower cutting garden, a stone circle, a shrubbery, a large pond and a small pond, a bog/marsh with a boardwalk through it, a woods trail, ornamental gardens, fruit shrubs and trees for humans (blueberry patches, American cranberry, seckel pears) and animals (blueberries, giant pagoda dogwoods, ash trees, etc). There are more gardens we didn’t see, like vernal pools and forest seeps, which aren’t in season. There’s also a stand of maples for sugaring and a small Christmas tree farm area.

At the start of the tour, Michael expressed his feeling that all the places at Distant Hill are gardens, whether formally gardens or not (more on this here), and I couldn’t agree more. (Hence my “Earth Gardens” postings over the years here, the first of which was Penny Lake Preserve in Boothbay, ME.) A bog is a garden, a meadow is a garden … in fact, in my opinion a marsh, a beach, a cemetery, a hell strip in the city, and the tundra are also gardens, all with their unique soils, plants, algae, lichen, fungi and mycelium, insects, birds, invertebrates and vertebrate dwellers and visitors.

If you look at the Distant Hill website, you’ll see many plant lists, including one of native plants, and several of cultivated plants (e.g., cultivated shrubs; cultivated perennials), as well as photos and names of some animals who appreciate the habitat. You’ll also notice that he and his wife Kathy view ornamental gardening as an artistic endeavor (like Bedrock Gardens in Lee; link to my latest post on Bedrock Gardens), and to continue the thought in the above paragraph, while they are not usually collaborations of humans and nature, I nevertheless see marshes, beaches, bogs and fens, woodlands and meadows (as well as more cultivated natural spots) as art. The textures, patterns, nuances of colour, variety of media and materials, movement and sound in wind and rain, appearance in light and shade, and the juxtapositions of plants with each other and with birds, insects, and other animals all create ever-changing, ephemeral works of art: painting, mosaic, kinetic sculpture, mixed media works, poetry, dance, song.

Wind moving through grass so that the grass quivers. This moves me with an emotion I don’t even understand” — Katherine Mansfield

And in this garden, as in Bedrock Gardens, there is also a lot of positioned, not-so-ephemeral art, sculpture that’s often whimsical and right at home in the place it’s landed.

I can’t give you the benefit of Michael’s passion for his place, and his deep experiential knowledge of it, but I hope you enjoy touring the gardens virtually almost as much as our group did in real life.

(We also much enjoyed brunch at Burdick’s French bistro in town afterward — highly recommended. I bought some amazing basil at the Walpole gourmet grocery next to Burdicks and immediately on returning home made pesto with it; at the moment, I’ve gone through all my basil but today I planted 10 more mature plants in hopes of a late season harvest.)


Our guided tour started with the monarch garden — Michael and Kathy grow milkweed, red clover, and other plants for monarchs, and they participate in a tagging project to learn more about monarchs’ migration patterns — and then into the flower cutting garden. Note the solar panels. And the whimsical tennis player sculpture. Also note the lovely dog, Ruby, a rescue from Puerto Rico. She was a joy to have along the entire tour.

echinacea in the entry garden
painted lady butterfly and bumblebee on echinacea
swallowtail butterfly on echinacea
native bee house made of dried, totally dead (cut in winter) Japanese knotweed stalks
Michael telling us about the monarch meadow and project
Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly weed) in entry garden, with bumblebee
This particular common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) plant was actually situated beyond the bog, near the end of our tour, but there was a lot of it growing in the monarch meadow
tennis player sculpture (with basket of balls) and part of the annual cutting garden; blueberries in background
Solar panels on garage/barn; there is also solar on the house. Plus flower cutting garden.
Cutting garden, stone garden, lawn, and Ruby the dog.


Next was the stone garden (and fire pit), with a siting ring to celebrate the beginning of longer days in the northern hemisphere, which starts after the winter solstice. If you look through the ring, lined up with two stones, you can see where the sun sets that day, the shortest day of the year.



On to the shrubbery and ornamental gardens, much of which is not just ornamental but also edible for humans, birds, insects, and others.

giant pagoda dogwood, which birds — such as cedar waxwings — love (and ash tree behind)
Michael and Actaea (formerly Cimicifuga) racemosa, known variously as snakeroot, black cohosh, and bugbane.
The tip top of an American cranberry shrub, i.e., Viburnum opulus var. americanum, syn. Viburnum trilobum (although there is also a European cranberry in the gardens, and I’m not 100% sure which this is)
homemade crutch holding up a tree limb
sunlight in a thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus) – edible! Like a raspberry.
blueberries encaged
blueberries and seckel pears
red seckel (dessert) pears … the tree was loaded!
bee hotel for solitary native bees (like mason bees)
sign for the bee hotel
Bergenia ‘Elephant Ears’ and an elephant sculpture
mating flower longhorn insects (probably Typocerus deceptus) on a Hydrangea arborescens (American hydrangea – native)
chipmunk (a tad far away from the camera)
red bee balm (monarda) in the sunlight
purple hosta and buddleia flowers
tall red Persicaria amplexicaulis “Firetail”
daylilies, small sumac (left), bird sculpture
another daylily


Most adorable Ruby interlude. She’s like a red furry corgi.



Now, the large pond, next to the sugar house and below the ferns:

part of large pond
another part of the large pond
heron with fish sculpture at large pond
bass (and shadow) in large pond
sugar house (for making maple syrup); the wood is pine cut to make the pond and milled on the property
Ruby is alert at the large pond (plus duck sculpture)
some of the group on path above ferns (above pond)


Next, the house and front yard:

front yard
little pond in front yard
dragonfly emerging from nymph stage in little pond


Trail walking. There’s a 3/4-mile accessible trail on the property, with lots of native woodland plants, plus a bog that morphs into a marsh on a side (boardwalk) trail.

woodland trail
Michael talking with some of our hazy group
our group on the bog boardwalk
two pitcher plants in the bog
Ruby on the boardwalk
green frog in marsh
vervain alongside marsh/trail
Persicaria maculosa (lady’s thumb smartweed) in newly cleared area alongside marsh
wintergreen (left) and (edible) Indian cucumber root (Medeola virginiana) near marsh
wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) leaves and berry alongside marsh
Michael talking with some of us about chaga, in this instance growing on a yellow birch tree


If you’re anywhere near Walpole or Alstead NH, Bellows Falls VT (15 mins away), or Putney VT or Keene NH (each 25 mins. away), drop by. You can always walk the trail/bog (daily from dawn to dusk), and check out the schedule of events for garden events and open hours (open the first Sat. and Sun. of the month from May to October in 2017).


“To​ ​know​ ​what​ ​you​ ​prefer​ ​instead​ ​of​ ​humbly​ ​saying​ ​Amen​ ​to​ ​what​ ​the​ ​world​ ​tells​ ​you​ ​you​ ​ought to​ ​prefer,​ ​is​ ​to​ ​have​ ​kept​ ​your​ ​soul​ ​alive.”​ ​-​- ​Brenda​ ​Ueland

July Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day

What with hosting a Spanish wine tasting party Sunday night, complete with tapas for each of the four wines, and two days of prep on Friday and Saturday, I didn’t quite make July Bloomday on Saturday. But today is the day to  remedy that.

Temps were quite normal during the first two July weeks, with highs around 80 and lows in the 50s. This past Thursday and Friday were aberrations, with highs of 72 and 65 degrees F respectively, and Sunday was the hottest day so far this month, 86F. We had some rain on six days (or nights) of the last 15 or so, including heavy rain twice. I haven’t had to water much, except for the new trees, some new annuals, and the veggie garden.

Weather details over, now on to the plants!


Annuals: I resist buying them, because they mean money and work every year, but come party time, I felt the need for a few gazanias, alyssums, and some feathery annual grasses to spruce up the joint (i.e., the front entrance).



purple alyssums
feathery annual grass

And I do love zinnia, in particular,



and the cosmos that come back year after year.


I bought six mixed annual bachelor buttons and one is white!


One of the vanilla marigolds is blooming.


Nasturtiums, too.


Soon, there will be yellow and orange calendula flowers.


Perennials: Where to begin?

Well, it’s not technically a perennial, more of a bulb situation, but ‘Lucifer’ crocosmia is the best bang for the garden buck I know. The plants are tropical looking, which is exciting when you live above 43N degrees latitude, and the leaves, buds, flowers, and dried seedheads are all attractive. I must have 60 or 80 plants now — and the first ones began blooming today! Last evening, sure enough, there were two hummingbirds (both female, I think) tearing up the place to get near the red flowers. And more of them today.

first blooms!
action shot!
crocosmia adding colour to the veggie garden
foreground buds


seedheads in Sept. 2016


Also blooming for the first time this weekend is the Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Fascination,’ sometimes called Culver’s root. It will put on quite a show in a few weeks, dragging the stems to the lawn in a debauchery of purple and bees, but for now, it’s a modest, elegant display.



I guess daylilies (hemerocallis sp.) aren’t strictly perennials, either, growing from rhizomes, but they’re certainly reliable. Before we lived here, someone planted a row of them along the driveway, lined up like unaccountably cheerful prisoners awaiting their cigarettes before being shot at dawn. That’s actually an almost-apt image, as each daylily flower lives for one day, but instead of being shot at dawn, they’re extinguished at dark.

The first one bloomed on 5 July, just one. The next day, three flowers. The next day, eleven. And then they got going, with — from 8 July until yesterday, 16 July — 28, 37, 55, 51, 50, 46, 79, 63, and 65 flowers per day. Yesterday, there were only 17, today 20, but I cut some of the stems on Sunday for the party, diminishing their ranks.

55 lilies on 10 July
50 lilies on 12 July



One perennial I thought I would like a lot more than I do is Silene (syn. Lychnis) x haageana ‘Lumina,’ a dark red catchfly flower. Maybe I have it in the wrong place, where it seems too insignificant. I do like the flower, and bud, but I barely notice the three plants in the front border, and it’s crispy and unattractive when it goes by, which is rather quickly. But for a week or two, it’s interesting to see.



Speaking of red blooms, the standard red monarda (bee balm) started to flower last week. I think I bought them all — at least 4 masses of them in the front yard and the side yard — at plant sales, but I assume they are Monarda didyma.



I like combining them with the orange daylilies, crocosmia, and purple echinacea for a startlingly colourful bouquet.


Or, if I had more of them, with the ‘Petite Delight’ bee balm, also blooming now (though starting to go by). shown here with ‘Gold Standard’ hosta.



Another perennial starting to bloom profusely is filipendula. I love their height (some of them), their fluffy flowers (most of them), their variegated leaves ( a few of them), their colours from white to pink to purple, and their attraction for interesting pollinators, from syrphid flies to little wasps to honeybees and bumblebees, and even for beetles. I bought many at plant sales, without tags as to species, but some I know I have are Filipendula ulmaria ‘Aurea,’ F. rubra ‘Martha Washington’s Plume,’ F. purpurea ‘Nephele,’ and a variegated filipendula.


bumblebee hovering


pink filipendula in bud, 17 July
pink filipendula in bloom and bud, 18 July


Astilbe has a somewhat similar flower, though most are not as lush in my view as the filipendula. Again, I have several plants bought with no tags at plant sales (they’re pink! and white!), and a few whose names I know, like Astilbe japonica ‘Peach Blossom’ and A. ‘Bridal Veil.’ They are just getting going now, with more to come the next two weeks; usually they’re all finished by the end of July. These four photos were all taken on 7 July.


flower longhorn beetle (Strangalepta sp.) on astilbe bloom


astilbe buds

And this one taken today, of the same flower stem as in the last photo:



While we’re in the shade garden, here are a few others things happening there:

one view of the shade garden
‘Sweet Kate’ Tradescantia x andersoniana (golden spiderwort)


‘Frances Williams’ hosta (I think) flower
‘Blue Cadet’ hosta blooming
Lamium maculatum ‘Beacon Silver” (dead nettle)
Athyrium niponicum ‘Pictum’ (Japanese painted fern) frond
spotted bloom on the new tricyrtis (toadlily) from June plant sale
Inula helenium (Elecampane, sometimes called horseheal) in bud for the first time since I got it from a friend three years ago.
white admiral butterfly way up in the apple tree


Here are a few more shots from the front yard.

first ‘Halcyon’ hosta flowers
small purple geranium flower
black and white striped mushroom
pink campanula (gift from friend Nancy)
closer view of pink campanula
veined purple-blue geranium flower
white and chartreuse iris
yet another unknown purple geranium
tulip poplar in bloom (early July)


The side yard is where much of the action is this time of year, with blueberries, the vegetable garden, bee balm, crocosmia, elderberry, and lots more.

another shot of the bee balm in the side yard
elderberry shrubs in flower
borage and arugula flowers
blue and pink borage flowers
pink borage, blue sky
purslane thriving in the vegetable garden
‘Sunrise Serenade’ (IpomoeaPurpurea) morning glory in glorious bud
‘Sunrise Serenade’ (IpomoeaPurpurea) morning glory in glorious bloom
‘Anita Kistler’ phlox
The ‘Anita Kistler’ phlox put on a great show in the side yard this year — probably because I didn’t accidentally pull up most of the plants in May and June thinking they were weeds as I often do
‘Anita Kistler’ phlox
‘Ice Ballet’ ascelepias starting to flower
the first milkweed bloom, 7 July
milkweed with yellow and pink flowers
Raspberry moth (Pyrausta signatalis) on milkweed buds
fritillary butterfly on echinacea

Food Crops: So much to show!


In the veggie garden, the peas are finishing up, after seven harvests, the last several of 40 or more pods each.

Aren’t peas amazing, the way they grow these tendrils and wrap around each other and the stakes for support?


The ‘Sun Gold’ tomatoes are starting to yellow up.


I can’t count the arugula and lettuce harvests so far.


The peppers are coming along nicely.


And the cucurbits (squash and cukes) are flowering and growing their vines.


I harvested the first four garlic yesterday; two were a good size, two were smallish, and none had separate cloves, so I’m going to wait a bit to harvest more.


Outside the veggie garden, there are still lots of strawberries


And now a bumper crop of raspberries, despite the grape and Virginia creeper vines intertwined with them.


And despite Japanese beetles mating on their leaves; I think this beetle with the dots on it may be doomed, parasitised by something else.


The peaches are growing, and some are blushing.



I’m using parsley, thyme, oregano, mint, rosemary, and dill from the garden. The fennel (planted in years past) is especially lovely right now.

dill flowers
fennel in fruit guild


The yarrow, especially the rugged ‘Summer Pastel’ variety, is all abloom now.

‘Summer Pastels’ yarrow
‘Moonshine’ yarrow


The back border, bolstered by the veronicastrum and the miscanthus and panicum grasses, has a summery look to it, I think.


I planted a masterwort there last June and am really enjoying the almost glittery, shimmery flowers. And just today, I found another masterwort plant in the front yard, under the crabapple!



We had an early evening visitor to the rock wall recently.



And a teensy tiny little lace bug (Tingidae sp.) shown here on the patio table edge after being unceremoniously flicked off my elbow; I thought it was a scab.



Aren’t lavender quintessentially summer?




Thanks for stopping by! Come back in August, when Joe Pye weed, more asclepias, summersweet, vervain, echinops, more echinacea, buddleia, cucumbers, squash, and others will be on the bloomday menu.


More GBBD, hosted at May Dreams Gardens:

… danger garden – always fun for me to see interesting spikey things that don’t grow here, and other plants I know only as houseplants

… Late to the Garden Party  (south coastal California)

Lead Up the Garden Path (Devon, UK)

… Commonweeder (western Mass.)

… Dirt Therapy (Vancouver, WA)

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