Tuesday, April 26, 2011


The peonies are in bud. Tiny nectaries that produce a sweet nectar on the edge of the leaves that cover the developing buds attract ants, beetles and often bees.   It is folklore that the ants help the blooms open. The flowers would open without ants.

I am reading about peonies. This year I would like to identify the older varieties I have growing in the gardens. I found some photographs of the peonies from last May.
The peony is the main symbol of China and represents good fortune, wealth, honor and happy marriage. There is a peony festival in China every April.

The Peony is named after the Greek figure, Palon, who was
a pupil of Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine and healing.

My peonies have a story. Many years ago my husband saved 10 large plants from going to the landfill when he was remolding a High School.  He brought the plants home in the middle of a hot July. We put them into buckets of water and planted them as quickly as we could. It took a few years for them to take and set buds. Now they produce gorgeous May flowers.
I have never known very much about the Peony.
I read that in medieval times the peony was valued as a medicinal
plant. They were often planted in physic gardens.
Today we can often find very old plants growing near monasteries.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine the peony root, Mu Don Pi,
has been shown to have an anti-microbia effect on escherichia coli, typhoid, cholera, staphylococcus, streptococcus hemolyticus and pneumococci. The peony root has an anti-inflamatory agent which can reduce arthritic swelling.
Dried petals have been used in teas as a cough remedy and
as a treatment for varicose veins.
The flowers were once used in making perfumes.
Bright red peonies were used for dying wool, paper and silk.
Peony flowers close up at night and on overcast days.

Claude Monet planted pale pink Japanese peonies as a perfect counter foil for the blue and mauve irises in his gardens.
He did know color!
I am taking notes as I learn about the peony.
I am tracking the bloom times of the peonies this year.
I shall divide my plants this Autumn and make another peony bed. I like the idea of planting iris in with them. My iris need to be moved since they are now in too much shade.

It was cool and cloudy today.
The Brown Thrasher was puffed up staying warm in the chilly air.

The Hummingbird was at the feeder most of the day.
I shall change the sugar water tomorrow.
I give him fresh nectar three times a week.
I shall be watching to see if
the Hummingbirds nectar in the Peonies this year.
I think I shall have a Peony Festival!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


As Spring blooms open I am watching
 the pollinators do their amazing work.
The male Tiger Swallowtail in his Spring form.
He is nectaring in the blooming Sargent Crab.
The bees have been busy in the Sargent Crab too.
I think this will be a good year for berries for this tree.
Come late winter the Robins and the Northern Cardinals
 will have a feast.
At first glance I thought the Tiger Swallowtail was a female because of the iridescent blue on the upper wing. A closer inspection showed the orange markings.

I learned from my Field Guide these are the markings of the male Tiger Swallowtail in his Spring form.

The Honey Bees are gathering pollen from the blooming Muscari.
We also call these darling little flowers, "Grape Hyacinth". My flower beds are bordered in these bulbs. For three weeks, during a cool April, they bloom and my gardens are transformed.  We are having a cool April and the Muscari have been in full bloom for two weeks.  These tiny bulbs are my favorite Spring flower in my gardens.
After the blooms fade I will clean and plant the flowers beds with my annual seeds.  Every year I cut off the Muscari spent blooms and encourage all the energy of the leaves of the plants to go into the bulbs. I often divide the bulbs and am currently filling beds for en-mass plantings.  Not only are the Muscari gorgeous but they are an excellent food source for the bees.

While working in our Kitchen, vegetable,  garden my husband watched a Miner bee build her nest.
and lay her eggs.

Getting down on hands and knees to garden means we get to see
up close the workings of nature.

It is a misty cool day.
Perfect day to work with photographs and field guides.

I fixed a pot of coffee for us to enjoy this afternoon.

We put on some music.

Our seeds for the "The Great Sunflower Project" arrived.
Our Earth day project is to plant them. We have joined in this year
and will count bees.
I did a little
 "Wee Bird and Wee Bee"  
drawing for Earth Day.

I am reading about the relationship of the Pleiades
and ancient people. The way they knew when to plant and when to harvest based on the rising and setting of this star cluster.

I wonder if the Monarchs have begun their migrations.
I am connected to the Pleiades, to honey and migrators.
I am connected to the Muscari.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Lilac Time

It is Lilac time.

Their scent is intoxicating.
Their branches gracefully sway in the breeze.

The Lilac is a romantic shrub. She is gracious and undemanding.
She is generous in her gifts. For two weeks every Spring, Lilacs fill my home and heart with joy.

This year for Lilac time I am learning about the genus Syringa.
I am learning about the history of this elegant shrub.
I am reading a classic story that some how slipped by me.

We walked in the woods near by this afternoon.
The Redbuds are at peak bloom.

The bumbles bees

are native pollinators.

Dragonflies are mating and laying eggs.

It seems early yet the Lilacs are in bloom.

The moon is waxing. Soon it will be time to plant warm season crops.

The Honey Bees are gathering pollen.

I am busy recording the bloom times of the Lilacs.
I let phenology and the moon guide my planting.
We are in the first bloom, when 50% of the flower clusters have at least one flower open.
I am watching for full bloom so I can harvest some flowers for my salads and teas. I will dry as many as I can for winter tea.
When the Lilacs are in full bloom it is a good time to plant warm
weather plants such as beans and cucumbers. I will wait for the Full Moon and full Lilac bloom.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Falling in love

I have once again fallen in love
with Spring.

When Spring came too early, a few years ago,
I lost over 400 plants.
I cried as all the heathers turned brown and died.
I wept as I dug up loved plants.
I vowed to never love Spring again.

Yet this morning I forgot that Spring can be cruel,
the wind was calm, the sun so bright and
the scent in the air intoxicating.
 I fell in love.
Once again I gave my heart to Spring.

I am different now.
I garden for the bees and butterflies.
I live in the moment.
I am mindful.

I am wiser.

The wind came up
this afternoon.

We took the kites out
for their first flight of the season.

The wind was a Moderate Breeze
according to the Beaufort scale.

We put all four of the Diamond kites up.

This was a most delightful
kite flying afternoon.

I have the Kite journal out.
I will be keeping track of our kite flying
in 2011.

Walking under the waxing Daffodil
Crescent Moon finished my day.

I am so happy to be in love with Spring
once again.