Gardening 2010

I grow flowers. I liked to grow vegetables but I have so many pests and troubles about getting the vegetables to the table that I decided long ago to let the farmers handle that, and I would grow flowers. Good decision on my part, though the deer voted against it (they wanted melons and tomatoes and sweet grasses, preferably the expensive variety).

The “bones” of my garden are set, and have been for years; by that I mean I have perennials to give a predictable show. The viburnum will be blooming in about a month and the scent is wonderful. the fothagilla isn’t as nice as it once was, but it still opens up and blooms, my roses gone wild are pretty sturdy (I grow the kind that the Bulgarians grow for attar of roses, the rosa damescena trigintipetala), summer bulbs, and the “specimen” peony or two. But there is the delightful question of annuals, the decorations of the garden which change the feel of it so drastically from year to year.

Zinnias have been my color divas for about three years. I have lots of sun, and they certainly need that. They come in the most wonderful colors, including the exquisite “Envy” variety which is green and goes with everything. They are divinely inexpensive, a packet of top zinnia seeds is about two dollars. They are so easy to grow that anyone can produce big beautiful plants even if they are unsuccessful at growing just about anything else. You can cut them and bring them indoors. If you leave them outdoors you will attract hummingbirds , and goldfinches love love love them.

Other than that, there is no reason on earth to grow zinnias. Did I mention that they do actually have a fragrance, too? It’s not their most highly regarded feature, and it’s not very strong but if you bury your nose in a bouquet of zinnias, you will smell summer. It’s a hot and dry pollen-like smell which just cries to be combined with melon. You can hear cicadas “going off” when you inhale the scent of a zinnia,

I am planting my favorite color combination: the pale green “Envy” variety, red-orange Will Rogers, cadmium yellow and ivory white. They are spectacular in vases together. I will have to wait until the threat of frost is past to plant them, but I have a feeling that this year is going to be warm and frost is over, but I am not betting my stock of seeds on it.

Planting seeds is ever so much less expensive than buying plants. If you buy $100 worth of plants, it seems that the landscape swallows them up; but $15 worth of seeds feels like you end up with far too many and have enough to share with neighbors.

And if you have a few dollars left, and you want to buy just a couple of plants, please consider the dark purple petunia. It is a grand summer showy thing, and it’s the only petunia which has a fragrance. It smells gorgeous, and strikes the perfect note when the air is languid. Goes with zinnias for a splendid summertime arrangement. I do recommend buying the plants, petunias are pretty difficult to grow, and you end up with loads of them when you only need two or three for a good scent and color display.

That Lovely Shade of Green…

…is starting to show up. Just a transparent overlay at the moment, but it does get more and more beautiful as time goes on. Just wait until mid-April, it will be so gorgeous out there that it will break your heart. All the new growth and a bit of shower activity. I always wish that the April Green would last forever, and not change to the dark forest green of August, but it does eventually. It seems like on May 1st, all greens settle in for the summer run and we have our shade for the year. But, for now we can rejoice in this proof that winter is indeed banished and we are almost in April.

I am heading back to the Possetorium for more packing and shipping this morning. Things are going well and I even started to laugh when I was bottling Pepys. Still funny. I think that Samuel Pepys would be amused.

One More Dreary Day And Then…

Today looks like another day in the mid 40’s with a drippy sky and little sunshine. Mind you, I am not the sort of person who insists on perpetual beatings of sun and nary a drop of liquid. I think we all need a rest from the relentlessness of the hard grinning of hard light but I do like to get a ray of brightness now and again.

It’s Easter Week which simply means that spring is gathering strength after a long season of denial, and there can be some treats to look forward to. I like the stories of the earth coming back and becoming young again and fresh, I think we all do. The goldfinch males are turning gold again after their winter brown coats. Mourning doves are plopping into my birdbath for a drink, and the sparrows have decided to use that big boxwood bush in my garden for a trysting spot again. More about that later, it’s really funny.

Gray Gray Gray

…and overcast skys. The backyard looks colder than it is and you can tell it’s an early Easter this year. However the sun does not shine, the leaflettes in the underbrush are sprouting and you can see them clearly now. Much more than the pawkish green haze which they have been for the past week, these are robust chartreuse leaves which are unrolling and claiming their place in the universe, whether we consider them weeds or mere scrub. The leafing scrub bushes are the backdrop to daffodils on our back hill which have bloomed every spring since the time we bought this house. Someone planted their bulbs in an S shape and they get the Northern sun, so they are late to bloom and make a perfectly timed crescendo to the First Movement Of The Coming Of Spring.

Cold and Rainy Weekend

Well, what can you expect from the end of March? The chill returns and the sky becomes overcast but that all makes the flowers grow so you can’t be too upset, right? I can now see the green “haze” around the bushes under the trees on the way to work, and I can also clearly see the little leaves emerging . No more winter! I am still thrilled. We are besieged with robins, they are surrounding us and hopping about looking oh-so-serious before stopping with their wings firmly behind their back, cocking their heads and listening for the telltale sound of something scuffing away under the turf.

I just ordered several replacement plants for areas in the backyard where the deer have eaten up the nice plants. I found out the hard way that deer love hibiscus. We had some lovely ones with huge blossoms that attracted deer like a magnet. Now we have nothing but sticks.

I do have a secret weapon against deer eating things but I will save that for later. It’s environmentally correct, local, amusing, cheap and it works.

At the moment, my life is full of packing and shipping. I am heading out to the Possetorium to do my mailbag duty and get out parcels. Loads of Possets will be streaming out to their new homes and Mr. Mailman will be dropping by on Mon to take them away (thanks to the new mail system I have installed). So far, life is good. I hope that all of you have a very happy weekend. More later.

At Last, It’s Spring At Possets

At long last I have gotten the spring lineup done and ready for unveiling at Possets. There are sweet candy scents, grown up beautiful lady perfumes, funny things to make you chuckle, and a brand new Cambienne which is there to celebrate my new Possets home. I am featuring the works of Samuel Pepys as a companion piece to this collection of Possets,for obvious reasons. Take a look at the site and you will see why.

I am pretty proud of the timeframe it took to get the spring line done and back on stream as a going concern after going through a huge move and a lot of transformations over the past month. Yes, it has only been a month since I bid goodbye to the studio and hello to The Possetorium.

So, take a look at the site and see what you think. Let me know on the forum or write to me here and I will respond. I might just talk a bit about the lead image from the site this time (it’s the background on the Spring page), Bacchus and Ariadne by Titian. Yes, I have an art historical opinion on it, too, and there is more to this painting than you might think!

Still Hidden

Though spring is officially here, it is coming out little by little as usual. I imagine that all of the roots and sinews of each of the plants in the backyard are furiously working but you can’t yet see the results. I think they have to go past a tipping point and then will unfold the wonderful things they have been working on. There are quite a few daffodils, and a blue flower that no one seems to know what it’s called, and the last crocus (the LAST one…already). Snowdrops are over now and I am sure the aconite which danced merrily across our neighbor’s lawn has retired for another year. The robins are plopping themselves into our poplar tree, sharpening their bills and wiggling their rumps and looking looking looking for something succulent. I think the males are getting a more truculent stance now. They look so serious.

I got pretty far yesterday in the Possetorium, but have a good deal more to do before I can let loose the Possets! I am afraid that I am the only one who knows how to do what I have to do (computer stuff) and so I have to figure out my new systems and get it all together. But I think that the biggest part of the learning curve has been passed and things will start to pop here pretty soon. Keep your eye peeled. If you are interested, go to the front page of the website and sign up for the newsletter. That way you will know the exact second when it happens. Like spring.


I am now officially finished with the Spring Line at Possets. What remains is: make production quantities, make images and labels for the internet and bottles, do the behind the scenes computer work for the site, do the computer work for the official announcement, put up the blog about the topic I want to explore during this phase (it’s The Chemistry of Flowers, and you will probably be surprised at some of the natural things that flowers put out to make themselves smell so good; listen, read, look and find out about them). Then I have to catch my wonderful cameraman and get him to film me doing something fabulously interesting with flowers, do a podcast and put it up and then I guess it’s showtime.

The image I took for this part of spring is Titian’s Ariadne and Bacchus from the London National Gallery. It is a magnificent painting which features the Corona Borealis, one of the most famous and beautiful constellations of spring. You can see that on the Possets Spring page, the constellation was put into Titian’s painting in the upper left hand side, and Ariadne is beckoning toward it as she seems to run from Bacchus. The “crown” was Bacchus’ present to Ariadne as a wedding gift. You can be sure they had Great champagne at their wedding feast.

More later.