Posts Tagged 'gardens'

Like an Agatha Christie movie set

Photo of pink and white azalea shrubs under a white dogwood.
Spring is sprung

One neighborhood I take my walks in is filled with azaleas, blooming dogwoods, and green grass in front of Tudor row homes, or 1930s modern twins.

I chat with neighbors (they from their safety of their front stoops, and me on the broken sidewalk), comparing where their gardens are compared to last year. We’ve all agreed that it is too cold to put in tomato or pepper plants. Mostly, one gardener has said he’s waiting on the plants, but it’s too cold to plant them so he isn’t worried about the delay. Since I lack gardening knowledge, I agree because it’s easier.

On the other side of the street, wisteria blooms on an arbor, and the tulips bob on their stems, looking like colorful lollipops. I’ve seen white throated sparrows, downy woodpeckers, cardinals, blue jays, and cowbirds. Squirrels race along fence posts. And everywhere, I have this uneasy feeling I just missed Hercule Point and Captain Hastings walking up a path and into one of the houses.

I’ve spent a little time wondering why I have so many Agatha Christie references on this blog. Perhaps it’s because I first read the books in my late teens? My favorite Agathas are any of the Tommy and Tuppence stories and Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? Any favorites on your shelf? I’m dipping my toe into eBooks, and considering what’s available and comforting.

Inspirations for a garden – rose trellises

When I was little, my Grandfather had a rose cutting garden that my Mom and her sisters kept up after he passed. The main grounds of the house had probably been done by a landscaper, with lots of grass, large rocks for interest, a large rain tree, and surprise lilies at the side where the small woods began. The space was large, grand, and open. The rose garden and small vegetable patch were on the side of the driveway, where they would get consistent sun, but tucked away. There might have been 10 or 12 small rose bushes tucked away in that intimate little postage stamp of land, and they were sheltered by a hilly berm from the danger of high winds and hail storms of Indiana, for the most part. If they had been focal parts in the yard, inclement weather would have destroyed them.

I’m always amazed by large arbors of roses, or whole rose gardens. The amount of work it must take, and carefully choosing what won’t be destroyed by the weather or bugs — it’s roseradissoninspirational. The latest place I’ve been to has been Planten un Blomen in Hamburg, Deutschland. Lovely gardens, including a waterfall with ferns. But the roses here are out in the open, not tucked away, and they contrast interestingly with the modern buildings behind them. This is only a small portion of the beautiful plants that were in the whole garden. There’s also an apothecary garden, Japanese Garden and teahouse (where we were offered tea), and a water fountain display (that we watched from the Seepavillion as we ate kuchen and drank coffee). Planten un Blomen is quite large. You can walk in the garden from the St. Pauli U-Bahnstation all the way to the St. Stephansplatz U-Bahnstation or further. I managed to get around 7 miles of walking in the day I visited, because we’d also visited Stadtpark Hamburg with a friend.


Last night I walked outside, at 9:40 PM, and picked a few figs in the dark. I worked by touch, selecting the ones that felt whole yet soft enough to be ripe. And yes, each time I found a soft fig, I cringedfig trees are tall hoping I wouldn’t encounter a yellow jacket. The figs were cool in the night air, their skins slightly wrinkled and puckered. A few had split.

Only a few are ripe now. There are many, many green figs showing the promise of a good crop, if the starlings get sick of them before the next crop ripens. There’s nothing like these fresh figs from an ancient tree. These aren’t like Smyrnas, or the light tan ones that one finds in the dried foods section at the market, or the ones I used to get from California. Perhaps turkey figs or some older variety from the 1920s or 30s. So now I’m looking around at different fig recipes to see if I can improve on the fig cake I made the other year.

Info about fig horticulture is out there on the web. Some are hobbyists. But if you’re interested in the history of figs, and you’re trawling the web, be prepared for some fairly weird search results.

I’d suggest GardenWeb for those who want to really research growing the plants. Have fun!

A Tale of Two Cement Lions

Every morning and evening, my commute takes me past a gateway for two houses, and on top of one of the gateposts has been a cement lion. The gatepost on the right has been empty, but an identical lion has been hidden behind the brick wall in front of the house on the right. I could see this lion cowering on my trip homeward bound.

For half a year, it has been this way, as though one lion tired of looking out across the orchard to the east, and decided to sulk behind the brick wall. Or, perhaps a fear of heights?

Today, both lions are cemented firmly in place, both staring off in the distance over an orchard and a herd of brown cattle. I like to think the other one teased the one down on the ground until he got the gumption to get back up there. But then again, my commute is long enough to write books in my head, and whimsy keeps me alert and looking for interesting items as I pass by them. I’ll miss the cowering lion, but I’ll wonder for a while why both lions on top of a gate are less intriguing than one up high and one down below.