Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Swanky Birdfeeder, Wild Quinine, Decent Coneflowers

Let's define decent coneflowers: none of those freaks with fluffy pom poms where the seed head should be, but the geneticists put the thing too close to radiation and well, you know, strange things started happening. Do NOT get me started on this.

Below we shall enjoy, shall shall shall, views of the garden--now grown to twice its girth in the last two weeks. We shall partake in the lovely colors, and more importantly, textures. We shall ignore the portion by the fence on the small hill where not much works yet (dry in summer, wet in winter / spring where it's shaded and ice lingers while other parts of the garden are greening up).

And oh, do we have a birdfeeder for you hip cats....

I usually have terrible luck with these new cone cultivars, but 'Sundown' came back with vigor for me this year. 'Swan' and 'Sunrise' are two dependable ones, but I always figured that's because they weren't uber modified like these more recent and weaker ones.

I'm too lazy to look up, and therefore can't remember, what this cultivar is named--but I do enjoy it.

I thought this was nice. So do you, by the way.

A close up of Queen of the Prairie in bloom. Smells like roses. You have to have this native plant. This year it, like most everything else, has grown massively. The filipendula is now about 6' tall and 4' wide and shading a turtlehead and meadow rue.

Wild Quinine. When I first picked up this medium to large native perennial I was iffy--looked kinda boring. And it is. But look at these unique 'blooms.' Reminds me of cauliflower (click to expand). This plant is currently at about 4' tall by 3' wide, slouching a bit because we recently had 5-6" of rain in two weeks after nothing the whole spring.

I really enjoy the different textures in this photo. And again, so do you. Liatris up front with sumac to the left, cones and monarda behind, then wild quinine, eupatorium and ironweed along the fence. Meeeoooowww.

A suprise for me this year in how I like this combo of 'Black Lace' elderberry and Amsonia hubrichtii. The amsonia is finally at about full height and spread, but the elderberry is still settling in--growing too much out instead of up, so I've begun contorting (staking) it to turn upwards. Doing far too much staking this year, mostly that pesky deluge of 3" last week which finished off most tall things.

Last year's garden art acquisition. Pretty at sunset. Right?

And our new birdfeeder. We really debated purchasing this as it was out of our budget. But the wife said "hey, this can be our anniversary present." And fortunately, something good happened only days later that made the purchase affordable. Help the economy (eh), help artists (yes!). My mom says only fashionable birds would use this feeder, but so far it's just pretty much grackles. 10 at a time. They darken the sky.

I ADORE my Rudbeckia maxima (and the birdfeeder behind it in this photo, just in case you hadn't noticed). I have this giant--6 feet--black-eyed susan set where two paths diverge in the garden, and it is at the point of a bed of red monarda and chocolate joe pye weed. The height at this spot is just perfect, it seems to me, and adds so much interest with its big blue leaves (again not shown here, so google it and buy one). I first discovered this plant over at View From Federal Twist, then bought it at Ambergate Gardens in Minnesota--two very cool places you should visit.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


So my wife dragged me to a packed bookstore last night to see David Sedaris, who is mighty funny. As I was waiting for my wife to get her book signed (took exactly 2 hours because Sedaris likes to yuck it up), I roamed the bookstore. I read every title in the poetry section, the terribly paltry nature / garden section, Nebraska and Nebraska Press sections, University of Nebraska faculty section, and the philosophy section.

The philosophy titles interested me immensely--at first. There's a trend in relating philosophy to the masses via pop culture: chat rooms, dating websites, Battlestar Gallactica, philosophy for dummies. Some of the titles, which I can't remember, sounded too deep / mercurial for me. Then I starting thinking not deep, self involved. Then not self involved, just sorrowful. I felt pity for the authors. All that time invested in what really amounts to nothing--circular words and arguments based on smoke and mirrors. Is all writing ultimately like this?

I think philosophy and, in general, "philosophizing" is fun and interesting, but it creates a very, very small world indeed--one that is exclusionary of experience in my opinion. And in many ways, I've just finished 9 years of a life that was this, but maybe it set me up to not live anything like that kind of life ever again. But I cheered up a bit when I hit the title on the bookshelf that read "On Bullshit." A small, thin book, and based on my flipping through its pages, discusses dictionary definitions and real wold manifestations of BS.

And I realized that, being self effacing but not really self effacing in a self effacing way, it was BS, too.

So I bought a 50% off garden book which seems to hold far more philosophy in one page than all that other BS. Which made me sad. Is all language just a form of BS?

So I started thinking about starting my own business--making change purses. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized there's just not that much money in them.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Green Cows?

Mini Herefords, that is. Produce less methane, don't overgaze, help with erosion, don't compact / disturb the soil as much, and still produce a lot of beef and milk.

So, maybe when you go out this evening you should ask about a free range, growth hormone-less, ethically processed (possible?) mini cows.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Copper Iris, Lysimachia, Sanguisorba, Sculpture

Perhaps my posts will become more lyrical late in the summer, but I'm tired-of thinking, talking, thinking, reading (for shame!). Pictures have been soothing my soul lately, and pictures ye shall have. The second full summer has been good to the garden, leaf-ripping hail storm not included.

I'll never tire of this window from the side garden into the main garden.

Main garden, beginning to fill in this year thanks to iris, monarda, and eupatorium. Unfortunately, the more numerous perennials are outpacing the strategically placed shrubs, which makes them appear not so strategically placed because you can't see them: dogwood, chokeberry, viburnum, itea, ninebark.

The side garden was in the shade, the fountain was reflecting copper in the sun.

I was thrilled that my native copper iris (LA) actually bloomed this first year after having been planted late last fall. The only shade of orange I can stomach.

Viva the tiger eyes sumac framed by the newly installed 'Summer Wine' ninebark.

Sanguisorba looks best, in my opinion, after its pink blooms fade to red and hold most of the summer. Stunning.

A nice foliar / color texture I thought: sanguisorba blooming up front, with swamp milkweed behind, then monarda, then rudbeckia maxima, with lysimachia and geranium blooming behind that.

Lysimachia 'Alexander' in bloom. Lovely plant from the first glimpse in spring to freeze in October. I do, however, need to find more May blooming things--it's mostly a foliage show in May, which, actually, is a pretty good one.

Mom emails me one day and says "I bought this on Ebay, do you maybe want it?" Fo-shizzle! Put it over the rarely-used sprinkler system access panel so as not to kill any grass. Though, less grass wouldn't bug me one bit--that's why I like planting trees, in part. And if I hear one more neighbor mowing their lawn when I'm trying to enjoy my garden--mowing pretty much all the time now--I will have to call my friend Steve, who now works in explosives for the FBI, and call in some old college favors.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

On Sending Out a Memoir

Ok, I'm not fooling anyone--I've no idea what I'm doing. I've never done this before. Still, when the first press says no to a proposal (of a book already done, but certainly in need of tweaking and smoothing out and an eye other than my own), it's similar to getting a rejection from a literary journal. Wait, no it's not. I think journals are worse. Though the letters read the same, I think there's the idea that this essay or this poem is far more perfected. Some would say then why are you trying to get your book published--because every single person who reads or hears about the book says "that's such a unique idea and story!"

Look, it's a good book, but I have no clue (or bravado) on how to prostitute myself. I've read some books and many, many websites on how to write and organize proposal packages, but I've never been good at fellowship or job letters (well, maybe job letters). What is anyone looking for? Is a book proposal nearly as much a lottery, darts at the board, lightening strike as publishing a poem? An essay? Is it like finding good pastries?

Look, I want to say, let's stop beating around the bush. I'll drive out to wherever you are, buy you coffee or dinner, and we can just talk. If after 10 minutes we can't stand the other person, let's have a safe word so we can exit and be mutually understanding. My safe word is "ni." Prior to our date, you could have stalked me on Google, read a chapter or two from my book, and that way we'd know if this relationship could even have a chance.

Promising hybrid memoir on hot topic that spans many niches and markets looking for press / editor to fill in the mortar joints. Author is congenial and will listen to anything, not terribly demanding (except for the cover perhaps). Book just wants to be held close on a rainy afternoon in mid summer and given a chance to become something more. Looking forward to taking a chance with the right person.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Who Pooped?

You can go to the Minnesota Zoo and find out, or play the interactive quiz and match the African animal to its poop. You even get to help them poop by lifting their tails and watching it come out. It's like being an employee!!

In the garden I touch poop all the time: rabbits, squirrels, birds, mine....