Splendid days, discoveries in the garden

Every once in a while, a day comes along that is just about perfect. This does not happen often, or it would not be memorable, but yesterday morning, I spent some wonderful time in the garden.

The weather was beautiful, blue sky, no wind and temperature in the 70s – just the right weather fior some cosmetic work in the garden.

I started in the vegetable garden with a weed attack on the broccoli patch. The plants have just about given their all, and I have a good supply in the freezer, but things were looking rather unkempt. After weeding and cutting off yellowed leaves, it looks as though there will be more side shoots to come.

I am trying to weed and tidy up one plot in the garden every day as the different vegetables are ready for harvesting. This is very satisfying, seeing clean spaces and even planting some fall crops.

Then, I went around to the front of the house armed with broom, hose and hand tools to start a cleanup. I have bird feeders on all four sides of the house, and so there is always a mess to take care of.

The front porch looked especially bad and needed to be hosed down. I love my new hose, one of the bright green expandable types that is lightweight and easy to use and to move around.

The New Dawn rose on the front wall of the house is dropping the remnants of the roses all the time now, so that detritus needed to be cleaned up. The porch is the home for my tropical plants, two fig trees, a papaya, an olive tree, a bay, a banana two hibiscus and a mandevilla, and they needed fertilizer and some loving care.

Having taken care of this light work, I sat down with my ever-present cup of coffee to enjoy the sunshine.

As soon as I settled in, I had company. A baby squirrel has spent a lot of time on the feeder outside the dining room window these last few weeks, and I have watched him grow. I suppose he is now the equivalent of a teenager, and he decided to come and see what was happening on my porch.

I sat still, and he nosed around for bird seed or some other treat, but was disappointed to find the area swept clean. Of course, I had a few graham crackers along to give me energy, so I dropped a few crumbs, which he was quick to sample. He stayed around for probably five minutes, until the dogs noticed his presence and started to complain with some irate barking, and he left.

That was the closest view I have had of a squirrel, and I hope he stays around.

Then, I got down to some serious weeding by the front steps, and right at eye-level on a rose bush was a large praying mantis. He didn’t seem to notice me, and I went in and got the camera. Unfortunately, I am not much good with any form of technology, and my pictures came out blurry, but he posed very graciously for me and stayed around.

While I was at ground level, I noticed two bare stems coming out of the ground with fat bulbs on the top. I think they must be the blooms of naked ladies, and I will find out today because they are growing at an incredible rate.

I kept track of them yesterday, and they grew 4 inches from that morning sighting until my last trip out with the dogs at 11:30 that evening. I knew they were fast growers, but I could almost watch them grow. I expect to see the pink lily flowers today sometime.

The next visitor was not so welcome. A full-grown rabbit found some nice green grass on the tree lawn for his lunch, with a few dandelion leaves thrown in for dessert. A few well-chosen words from me and an explosion from the dogs on the other side of the door sent him off to greener pastures.

And so the morning went. Birds, bees and butterflies around me, perfect weather and special visitors. I love being a gardener.

Janet Del Turco is a local gardener and a graduate of the Ohio State University Master Gardener program.

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