Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Vacation Garden: some of us are looking at the Astrantia

Imagine my horror when I returned from a two-week vacation to find that my garden had continued to grow—wildly grow—without me. How dare I leave town in spring (or summer or fall)?  Apparently the rain had come down and the sun had shone and the temperature had remained moderate to warm. So the garden had done what gardens do in such conditions: it sprouted, grew, and died all at the same time. And it did it all without me. It's like coming home to accusing stares from children whose birthdays you missed or the wreckage from teenagers who partied in your absence. And let's not even look for a metaphor for the weeds that multiplied in unthinkable numbers.

And where do I start? The Lupines have more stalks gone to seed than flowering ones, and powdery mildew blankets almost every stem that doesn't have an occupying slug. The Rhodies, blooming when I left, are studded with spent flowers. Branches of brown petals mark the locations of the Azaleas. And the gravel path through the beds is now a bed for errant grasses, multiple varieties of Willowherb, and dandelions.  The Creeping Yellow Buttercup (the invasive Ranunculus repens) has crept into everything from the Japanese Bloodgrass to the Chinese Astilbes. 

The vegetable garden is a mess: all the Arugula and most of the lettuces bolted; winds and rains knocked the sugar-snap peas off the teepee trellis, bending the major stems thus killing off the leaves and peas above the break; and the peppers have simply vanished--the work of rabbits I imagine (hmmm . . . or rabbits I can't imagine). Only the garlic and tomato plants seem immune to my absence.

Then there is the massive tangle that is the blooming, fruiting garden, surprised just in-between: the Nigella flowers pushing up through branches of fruiting Red-flowering currants; Oregano barely avoiding the the sharp spines of the Rose Glow Japanese Barberry; and the Catmint splayed in the walkway, heavy with blooms and bees.

And though I did photograph all of this--truly I did--I post none. As mentioned (time and time again), I still struggle with taking garden shots that include more than a plant or two. Well, I can take the shot, but the final image is just too boring.  After a week in Newfoundland, I find that I can take landscapes, but still no medium-angle garden shots.

So here's a single rain-beaten Geum coccineum 'Borisii' compared to one that escaped the deluge:  

Astrantia major
But then there are the Great Masterworts--fabulous name--towering above the carnage of rain, wind, slugs and weeds.  And I feel hopeful again, and, for me, it is once again spring.

Astrantia major 'Abbey Road'

Astrantia major 'Abbey Road'

(with apologies to Oscar Wilde):  We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the Astrantia.