A week or two ago, it occurred to me that one way to improve my plant photography would be to, gasp, practice. I’m fortunate to live in an area where neighborhood walks yield a wealth of lovely things to look at, so recently I spent an afternoon wandering about and photographing plants I don’t currently have in my garden, but admire when I see them out and about.
After no doubt puzzling several passersby as I took one photo, then another, then squinted down at my phone screen attempting to check focus and select a reasonable zoom or crop, here are a few of the results. Plants to grow myself another year, perhaps!
I’m reasonably happy with these. Once I accepted that post-photo-taking editing was not a thing I’d do, and so whatever I could achieve in the moment was what I would end up with, I started looking at things more closely. I also discarded a lot of photos. It was interesting – I don’t think photography is ever going to become an in-depth hobby for me, but the attention spent on this felt entirely worthwhile.
I’ve been spending this gray, rainy morning reading other gardeners’ blogs. A lot of these are written from the UK and Europe, which right now seem to be having a cold snap and at any rate are much, much colder than here. So I’m reading about frost, and blackened leaves, and I look out my window at the overcast sky and the occasional drift of light filtering through the clouds, and contemplate whether it is or is not too mildly damp and drizzly to walk a lazy half block up the road to mail a letter to my friend L. (Digression: one upside of the pandemic is that L, a high school friend with whom I used to exchange letters during summer vacations, & I started writing real physical letters to each other again.) While I read, I consider how much I admire and enjoy snow, and admire and enjoy the crisp frost of a colder-than-here winter morning, and at the same time I love sun and find it hard to imagine what would actually be too much time out of doors. Years ago, during the six months I spent in York during my junior year of college, it started out as winter and there was very definitely snow. I went hiking in the snow with a student group on weekends, and I walked the two miles kilometers from my residence hall to class during the week, regardless of weather. I am not sure if this was because I didn’t want to spend money on the bus, or was puzzled by the bus schedule, or maybe there wasn’t a bus, or maybe I simply preferred to walk. I remember kicking my boots through the cold white drifts and stamping down the half-melted-and-refrozen crunch underfoot. I remember the fascination of the bleak gray sky. I suspect I was often cold, but I don’t remember wanting to change anything (this was when I was much younger, before I learned how to buy a winter coat, and that “made of wool” is not the same thing as “warm”).
Anyway. Weather. I am so grateful that yesterday was warm and sunny and I spent the afternoon digging in the dirt, and then I had a giant glass of fresh-squeezed navel-orange-and-Persian-lemon juice afterwards.
And I’m only a little bit jealous both of those with snow, and those growing tropical blooms in Florida and soaking up sun in the southern hemisphere!
The day started with a low gray drizzle, mist over the southern hills and the sound of dripping echoing in the drainpipes. Mid-morning, however, the weather cleared. I spent the afternoon outside, doing something I think I’d intended to do way back in maybe December: cutting down & digging in my first attempt at cover-cropping.
Here it is, to start off six-on-Saturday in my garden this week:
Cover crop in the largest vegetable bed. This is Kodiak mustard, planted late last fall.
This took me about two, maybe two and a half hours altogether, including a bit of weeding before the cutting. That feels pretty good, as I suspect last year it would have been more like six hours. Partly I am just more practiced, I think, and partly I think my new workout routine is paying off in increased not-getting-tired-ness, as well as more upper body strength for shovel-wielding.
2. Arugula going wild as usual! The two varieties I planted, ‘Runway’ and ‘Runaway’ do seem to differ, despite my initially wondering if one was just a typo of the other. One has flatter, broader leaves; the other is spikier. I prefer the broad-leaved variety. The flavor is wonderful, and it does a better job substituting for things like lettuce, which so far I have been completely unsuccessful at growing.
3. To transition this post from edibles to non-edibles, here’s a maybe-edible: this season’s regrowth of the wild artichoke (or possibly cardoon), growing in the lawn. It isn’t producing any buds as yet.
4. Also non-edible, despite the soon-to-be amazing fragrance: jasmine blooms, just beginning to pink up.
5. Mystery daffodils. These were here when I moved in, so I don’t know what kind they are, but they smell amazing! They seem to come up more enthusiastically some years than others. Water? Weediness of the garden bed? Not sure.
6. And last but not least, more mystery flowers-from-bulbs. I always forget these are going to come up, and then – there they are. (The dove statue was previously attached to a precariously concreted-on birdbath on the corner of this bed. The birdbath broke, but I saved the dove.)
Happy Saturday & happy gardening to you! For more six-on-Saturday garden blog posts, check out The Propagator’s blog.