Monday, April 29, 2019

In a Vase on Monday: Cats vs. Catkins

The weather continues to be rather backward. Yesterday was very chilly and we even had a few snow showers. It was dampening my spirits a little as well, so I decided to go for another walk and look at all the signs of new life which are appearing everywhere! It was a cold walk, but encouraging nonetheless and I returned with very cold feet but triumphantly bearing an armful of blooming Alder and Willow catkins! 

I think the Pussy Willow branches look almost like pearls. There are a whole bunch of them in a swampy area down the road from us and when I first saw them a few days ago it was raining and they were just was beautiful! 

Most of the ground is bare now, but I loved seeing these in bloom with this snowy patch in the background...what a contrast!

The Speckled Alder catkins are really beautiful when viewed close-up! Sometime I hope to get a good strong magnifying glass so I can really study the details of smaller flowers.

Closeup of the Pussy Willows...

Ok, I knew I was asking for trouble bringing these into the house! I had brought some in last month to force, and it wasn't long before the kitties discovered them. This time, the moment I came in, Nastya attacked! 😁

I don't know if it's just that they dangle or if they taste good too, but they absolutely love these! They followed me all over the place, jumping onto furniture or my shoulder trying to get at them as I moved around the room, looking for a suitable place to set them. 

I really wasn't satisfied with any of the pictures I took of the arrangement (it's a lot prettier than my pictures show!). It was just too windy to photograph outside and the lighting is terrible in the house. In one last attempt, I set them on the bedroom windowsill which still didn't help much, but I did capture another kitty moment, this time with Olga who was just checking them out. 😊

The vase is now adorning the kitchen table and I have my fingers crossed that the cats will leave it alone there. We have been trying to train them not to jump on the table but they still do it once in a while, and my sister thinks we're going to find a very wet table cloth very soon! 😃

I'm joining Cathy at Rambling in the Garden today for IAVOM. Visit her blog to see many beautiful flower arrangements gathered from all around the world!

Friday, April 26, 2019

Enjoying Spring Despite the Weather!

Here we are at the end of April and Maine still can't quite make up its mind about what season we're in! We woke up to a dusting of snow yesterday morning...nothing unusual for up here but discouraging nevertheless especially since it has been decidedly chilly and wet most of the week, and the forecast isn't all that encouraging either! But the Snow Crocuses were still beautiful with their white frosting, don't you think? 

And everything seems determined to grow despite the weather! My gardens are starting to come to life and there is already so much that needs to be done. I did manage to do some cleaning up of the flower gardens a few days ago. This one was still under some snow and too wet at the time though, so it still looks like a tornado (aka winter! 😁) went through...

The herb garden with more Crocuses. The camera doesn't do it justice, but I love to look at the gardens from a little distance at this time of year and see the tiny spots of color in the fresh earth! I'm also very happy to see that my Foxgloves survived this time!

And the third of my flower beds...notice the little patches of blue under the rose bushes!

And if you'll come closer, you'll see that heavenly blue comes from the first Chionodoxa flowers which just opened this morning!

The first Dutch Crocus bloomed today as well...

The seed population is growing slowly but surely. I have started sprouting seeds on moist paper towels in baggies and then potting them and moving them out immediately so the kitties don't get to them. I'm able to start a lot more at a time that way! 😁

I'm hoping to be able to move the Heartsease plants into the garden sometime next week. They don't mind the cold...there's even one lone plant in the garden now that actually survived the winter and is trying to bloom!

The woods have been calling me the last few days but it has either been too cold and wet, or I was too busy with other things (like sewing). But I finally managed to sneak away for a little while this morning. It was delightful! There is such a fresh, earthy smell in the air everywhere! 

Oh, but before we go too much further, I wanted to show you this picture...of a fence! 😃 Well, the reason is to show just how high the snow had been. That fence and the T-post in the middle were completely buried a month ago! 

Entering the woods...the snow is down quite a bit but there were still a few areas that were quite deep yet and almost impassible without snowshoes. 

I was mostly focused on looking for Coltsfoot again, but I actually didn't get very far before I made a discovery of a very different nature! It turned out to be the skull of an Alces alces! It had evidently been there for a while, so I'm not sure how I missed this all last summer...I suppose it could have been well-hidden amongst the plants. 

Look at those teeth! 

A leg bone was laying 10 or 15 feet away and there were some other, smaller bones around, but not the full skeleton. 

A better view of the skull, which I couldn't resist taking home to show my family! 

Just for size comparison...

Alright, I will leave you with a prettier sight now. 😊 The morning glories continue to delight with new flowers almost daily. This morning they surprised me with 5 flowers open at once! 

I hope you are enjoying spring too, wherever you are and whatever the weather! 😊

Monday, April 22, 2019

Gold Flame and Silver Flame

Gold flame and silver flame, 
Burning through the mould,
In the east wind's scornful breath,
When the world's a-cold:
Fiery from the earth's red heart
Leap they to the light,
Gold flame and silver flame,
Crocus yellow and white. 

Look, you starveling wayfarers,
Shivering as you go,
Watching lest the leaden sky
Break in blinding snow:
See the grey, the iron sod
Cleft by sudden heat!
Gold flame and silver flame
Flicker at your feet.

Torches of the tiny year,
Cressets put to mark
Pathways where the spring may tread,
Groping through the dark: 
Fires to warm the heart, 
Candles rare and small,
Gold flame and silver flame
Glow beside the wall.

Shall they smoulder into dust,
Sink in embers grey?
Shall their gleam in ashes lost,
Wither all away? 
O, they mount, some night of stars,
From the prisoning sod, -
Gold flame and silver flame
Light the halls of God! 
                               ~May Byron

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Wishing You All a Happy and Blessed Easter!

The Easter sunrise flung a bar of gold
O'er the awakening wold.
What was thine answer, O thou brooding earth,
What token of re-birth,
Of tender vernal mirth,
Thou the long-prisoned in the bonds of cold?

Under the kindling panoply which God
Spreads over tree and clod,
I looked far abroad.
Umber the sodden reaches seemed and sere
As when the dying year,
With rime-white sandals shod,
Faltered and fell upon its frozen bier.

Of some rathe quickening, some divine
Renascence not a sign!
And yet, and yet,
With touch of viol-chord, with mellow fret,
The lyric South amid the bough-tops stirred,
And one lone bird
An unexpected jet
Of song projected through the morning blue,
As though some wondrous hidden thing it knew.

And so I gathered heart, and cried again:
"O earth, make plain,
At this matutinal hour,
The triumph and the power
Of life eternal over death and pain,
Although it be but by some simple flower!"

And then, with sudden light,
Was dowered my veil'd sight,
And I beheld in a sequestered place
A slender crocus show its sun-bright face.
O miracle of Grace,
Earth's Easter answer came,
The revelation of transfiguring Might, 
In that small crocus flame!
                                       ~Clinton Scollard

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Oh, Spring Thou Art Coming!

"Oh, Spring thou art coming! in fact thou art here. Oh, Spring. 
Grim Winter is going; in fact he is gone; oh, Spring!
Rejoice all ye maidens, rejoice all ye men;
 For Spring, gentle Spring has returned after a year of protracted absence. Amen."

   Wonderful things have been happening just in the last few days! We had so much snow and it was so bitterly cold at the beginning of this month, I thought we were in for another late spring, but what I seem to forget each year is that spring in Maine is completely unpredictable - and when it does  come everything happens so fast! The ground really didn't have a chance to freeze much at all this winter due to the deep snow cover from early November on. So, as the glaciers retreat, I am finding that many of my plants knew it was spring and have already been growing underneath the snow! The Snow Crocuses (Crocus chrysanthus) have truly been living up to their name...this is what greeted me on Sunday when the snow had just started to melt from off my herb garden!

The last couple of days have been very wet and cold so the flowers remained closed, but with the sunshine forecasted for today, I had high hopes!

And sure enough, this is what greeted me this morning as soon as the sun hit the gardens! 

Besides the crocuses, glory-of-the-snow, tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and muscari, quite a few perennials are already up and growing! This is the wormwood...

And lovage...

Both of these are in the 'seed garden', which is almost entirely bare of snow now (the picture below was taken on Monday). I'm hoping to get some work done in it this will feel so good to play in the dirt again!  

We already have bare ground in many places, but there are still plenty of areas where the snow is quite deep yet. I still need snowshoes to walk in the field, most of the woods, and even parts of the yard. There is a river forming in the field behind our place...

...and into the woods. We had about an inch of rain on Monday so it was really flowing.

A large area in the woods is completely under water right now. This whole section is covered in Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) in summer.

And a closer look reveals that it's already sprouting!!

I went to the woods again this morning to do some more thorough exploring and see if I could find any super early flowers, especially Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) which I am determined to see in bloom this spring, but most of the woods are still under a couple feet of snow.

So, after wading around the swamps most of the morning, I came back very wet and muddy but still happy, and set out to find my snowshoes, which I had foolishly left behind! 😁

And now I need to get back outside. It's such a beautiful day it seems almost a sin to be in the house sitting at a computer, especially since the next few days will be very wet again, but I just couldn't wait to share the good news with you all! 😊

Monday, April 15, 2019

In a Vase on Monday: Bouquet in the Snow

Snow is the background for my flower arrangement this week as well, although I do have better things to say for the weather now! 😊 The snow is beginning to disappear from my gardens and already there are signs of life!! I'll be posting an update on that soon but for now, here's a little bouquet I made right in the snow (I guess this would be more appropriately titled "In the Snow on Monday")!

Last fall I brought in armfuls of flowers for drying with the intention of using them for arrangements during the winter, but as it turned out I really liked the way they looked just hanging on the walls in my bedroom, besides the fact that the kittens think my flowers and vases make wonderful toys, so that is where they've stayed! I can't even remember what inspired me to try this, but with the glorious 60-degree temperatures on Saturday, I was feeling like doing something, and since my gardens were still mostly covered, well... 😁

I wasn't sure how well Joe Pye Weed would dry, but it actually holds its color very nicely...the trick is to pick them when only a few flowers have opened. 

Goldenrod is probably my favorite late summer wildflower, although its appearance is bittersweet since it also means that our brief summer is almost over...ugh, I don't even want to think about that right now! 😃

Yarrow grows abundantly in our lawn...

Wool Grass and the very aptly named Pearly Everlasting...I actually still have a vase of Pearly Everlasting on my nightstand which has been there since last October. It looks as fresh as ever except that some of the flowers have been eaten by the pussy cats! 😁

An overhead view...

Hopefully, I'll have some fresh spring flowers to show in the next week or two. 😊  You can see all sorts of spring arrangements from around the world today at Rambling in the Garden!