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Posts Tagged ‘garden’

In the midst of the profound strangeness we are all living in, it has been a gorgeous spring in Boston. The lilacs, in particular, are simply stunning this year. I’ve been stopping to sniff them on my daily walks and runs around Eastie, and on Sunday, my guy and I soaked them up at one of our favorite places.

The Longfellow House, just west of Harvard Square, has an entire hedge of lilacs out front and another grove of them all the way around its western side, ending in a stand of them by the back garden entrance. We love that garden, but it is not quite in its full summer glory yet; we were there for the lilacs, and oh my, did they deliver.

We walked and sniffed and snapped photos and sniffed some more, and actually crawled through a tunnel made by overhanging lilac branches. We saw a few other people who were as ecstatic as we were: a woman whose purple shirt matched the flowers, a mother with her redheaded toddler daughter, an older woman wearing blue eyeliner who told us she had grown up among lilacs in Lexington. Sunday was G’s birthday, and all he wanted was to wander among these lilacs, which he’d seen in bloom here and there before, but never at their peak.

Before the lilacs, we got sandwiches at Darwin’s (with chai for me) and ran into several people we know – both staff and regulars. Afterward, we rode bikes back across the city to the Blue Line, which brought us back to Eastie for a birthday dinner and presents. And all day long, we soaked up the beauty, and enjoyed being together.

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balcony garden update

The balcony garden is growing. I mean that in several senses.

When we left Abilene, three summers ago, I sadly parceled out the plants from my patio garden to friends: I knew they wouldn’t survive four days and 2200 miles in a hot car or a hotter moving van. The basil, tomato, white dahlia, red geranium, and massive “love fern” (from my sister’s wedding reception) all stayed behind as we drove north.

patio garden

Each year since then, I have bought a geranium (always red), a basil plant (we use the leaves all the time in the summer), and usually another herb: rosemary one year, mint the next.

I plant them in cheery red and terra cotta pots, and I step outside in the morning and evening, to water and deadhead and prune. They flourish through the summer, and then I bring them inside, nursing them as long as possible into the autumn.

patio journal time

The geranium above survived its first winter and bloomed even more bountifully in its second summer. I nursed it through its second winter, but by April I thought it had given up the ghost. I set it out on the balcony when the weather warmed, though I also bought another one (hedging my bets). Now – to my continuing surprise – they’re both blooming. I love the cheery red clusters of flowers and the leaves’ spicy scent.

My basil and peppermint have struggled this year, but a couple of recent heat waves have kick-started them. The basil isn’t at pesto-making volume yet, but it’s growing.

balcony garden 012

This year, my friend Abi and I split a flat of cherry tomato plants, and my three have shot up, growing leggy and producing tiny yellow blooms. Now there are actual tiny green tomatoes on all three plants. (I’m going to need sturdier stakes.)

green tomatoes balcony garden

We don’t have a backyard, so a row of pots on the balcony is as much as I can manage – but I don’t mind. I love watching the daily and weekly growth, the sense of wonder at a new bud or fruit forming on the stem. I love the little surprises that come from growing things, anything, all summer long.

What’s growing in your garden, or on your balcony or fire escape, this summer?

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I have a garden!

Red fiberglass pots: $15 each (x 3=$45)
Patio tomato plant: $6
Basil plant: $3.50
Rosemary plant: $3.50
Hand trowel: $4
Potting mix: $6.50 a bag (x 2=$13)
Red geranium: $15

Total cost for my patio garden: $90

Satisfaction in tending to growing things, getting dirt under my fingernails, having herb-scented hands, the sight of bright red geranium blossoms and making my own pesto [recipe from A Homemade Life] from my own basil leaves?

It’s early yet, but I’m pretty sure it’s priceless.

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I stole this idea from Hula, who has done it for the last several years around her birthday. I made this list last week – it’s not my birthday but I’m halfway between my 25th and 26th birthdays, so this feels both fun and doable. (Perhaps I’ll try another version on my birthday, with more things that might take a whole year to plan and do.) Anyway, here’s the list, in no particular order. I’ll strike through items as I finish them and put asterisks* by the ones I’ve started.

1. Give a heartfelt (and, ideally, eloquent) toast at my sister’s wedding
2. Travel to England with J for two weddings of people we love
3. Finish The Count of Monte Cristo (720-ish pages to go…)
4. Spring-clean my closet
5. Start scrapbooking last year in Oxford
6. Start an herb garden*
7. Blog at least twice a week, except when on vacation
8. Celebrate my first wedding anniversary
9. Go see Rent in Dallas with J
10. Celebrate J’s graduation from MFI in August
11. Write five real letters
12. Visit somewhere I’d like to move
13. Go to the soap company in Strawn, TX, with Bethany
14. See Becoming Jane
15. Have a few more “girls’ days” on Saturdays with Abi, Grace, Kelsey and Bethany
16. Finish watching the complete Gilmore Girls (all 7 seasons), return Charity’s DVDs (which I’ve had since September), and write about my impressions of the series
17. Take a yoga or Pilates class
18. Hang out with our neighbors, the Fletchers, again
19. Host Lifeteam at our house again
20. Host ladies’ coffee night at my house
21. Write a few more poems*
22. Start a big writing project
23. Soak up & savor the Highland family retreat at HEB camp (that was this past weekend, and it was SO FUN)
24. Have several hangout nights with Bethany
25. Travel somewhere I’ve never been

I’ll keep you updated. Off to write a real letter…

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