May Blooms

I know the month of May is on its way out, but I don’t think it’s too late to post photos of what this month is usually known for. Flowers.

Here are different variety of peonies in our yard. Peonies are perennials, that means they come back every year. But after their flowers bloom, which in our area is usually in May, then they go into hibernation.

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I like peonies because their flowers are beautiful and large. They also produce a lot of blooms.

Some of the bushes are so burdened with their flowers that they bow so low with their flowers kissing the earth.

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Sadly to say these flowers last only 7 -10 days. Like everything else in this life, they are temporary and fleeting.

We’ll just enjoy their beauty before the flowers eventually fall to the ground. Until they come back again next year.

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(*photo credit: me; horticulturist: my wife)

 

Ugly Topiary

(topiary |ˈtōpēˌerē|: the art or practice of clipping shrubs or trees into ornamental shapes.)

It’s officially spring time here, and its time once again to tend the yard and the garden. I have posted before that my wife love topiaries and we have them both inside and outside of our home (see previous post here).

However in our backyard is a line of evergreens that looked like hideously clipped topiaries. Don’t we have the artistic skill to trim them?

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However, we are not the one who trim these disfigured shrubs. We’re not thinking our neighbors are vandalizing our plants either, causing this unusual design. In fact, these evergreens are not even intended to be topiaries at all.

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Who’s responsible for this art work then? A drunk Edward Scissorhands?

No, it’s the pesky deer!

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During winter, when the grass and food is scarce, these evergreen could be a gourmet meal for them. They nibble on what they can reach, leaving the top untouched.

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Good thing we don’t have roaming giraffes!

(*photos taken with an iPhone)

 

 

Mysterious Weed

After being away for a few weeks, we came home and was pleasantly surprised that our garden was still in full bloom. We had lots of rain this summer, plus we asked our friend to water our plants if needed, while we were gone.

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Not just the flowers, but the vegetables as well were blossoming, like the tomatoes and the pepper.

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But besides the flowers and vegetables, the weeds have also grown tall. There are areas that the weeds are crowding the other plants, that it even started to look like a weed garden. No, I’m not talking about the illegal “weed.”

When we looked closely to a patch of our garden with overgrown weeds, a peculiar plant was among them. We thought it was just a tall weed, but it wasn’t.

It was corn!

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It’s kind of puzzling how those corn plants got there, for we definitely did not plant them.

We know that a corn field is not too far away, could the wind blew some seeds when the farmers were planting their crop? Or maybe a bird drop a corn kennel there? Or maybe the chipmunks? Or could it be the leprechaun that planted them? Who knows?

After clearing the weeds, we decided to keep the corn and not pull them out. After all, they have ears of corn on them already.

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Maybe next year, we’ll plant corn in our garden on purpose. This is Iowa anyway, the corn center of the entire USA, and perhaps the whole world.

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Not too long from now, we’ll be harvesting our own corn. Unless the leprechaun (lepre-corn?) get to them first.

 

May Flowers

You may have heard before, the saying “April showers, bring May flowers.” I can say that we did have a lot of April showers this year, and it even continued through May. But it surely brought in the flowers.

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Yet it take more than just April showers to grow these flowers. To this I add, the labor of a very competent and diligent gardener. Here is my wife weeding and preparing a patch of soil back in April.

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And here’s that same patch today.

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Here is the master gardener again, down on her knees at work. Of course I helped. Is taking photos counts?

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Look at the picture below. Can you spot the small rabbit? So even the bunny is admiring the flowers. Or maybe, the bunny is just eyeing what’s for breakfast, much to the dismay of my wife.

IMG_2907But as the month of May is about to end, these May flowers, especially the peonies, are drooping and about to bow out.

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So the master gardener, harvested them before they fade out completely into the summer’s night.

IMG_2915She placed them in a pitcher, so for a moment, we can admire them for a little longer. Here it is, her labor of love.

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Now that I have posted them here in my blog, they surely will last far beyond the month of May.

(*photos taken with an iPhone)

Zen Moment

In our breakneck-pace, sink-or-swim busy schedule, we badly need some time to exhale and relax. We need to find our zen moment.

Different people have different ways to unwind and rejuvenate. There are some who would spend some time in a spa and be pampered. There are some who would go for a hike in the woods or climb a mountain. There are some who would watch a movie. There are some who will go to a mall. Zen shopping? While some would just sit and do nothing. And I mean nothing, as if staring blankly in space, like a frozen computer screen. I know, I do that sometimes.

Another favorite way of unwinding for me is my Sunday easy morning run of 2-3 miles where I just go on a slower pace than my usual, and commune with the wind, the lonely road, and nature. I would say that many of my creative thoughts come during this runs. I guess mild brain hypoxia can generate a stroke of genius.

Then there’s my wife. She will put on comfy clothes. She will go outside to be alone with the elements. She has her portable speaker playing her zen-type of music softly in the background. While she is on her hands and knees……….pulling weeds.

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(*photo taken with an iPhone)

Raising Topiaries

My wife loves topiaries. Well, who doesn’t? These photos will attest to that.

 

Topiary is the horticultural practice of training live plants by clipping shrubs or trees into ornamental shapes. It is really a living sculpture. This art probably dates back to the Roman times. The art spread throughout Europe and peaked in popularity in the 17th century, though due to overwhelming growth it declined in the 18th century. Today, perhaps because of their visual appeal, or probably due to its nostalgic effect, or maybe just for the sheer love for it, that we still practice this art.

Here are some topiaries in our yard, composed of boxwoods and lilac shrubs. We trim them into round shapes, perhaps not with the same artistry as Edward Scissorhands. Maybe we will get more imaginative next time and sculpt them into more interesting shape, like bunnies, or turtles, or pigs. Pigs? Green round-shaped pigs will turn my  yard into Angry Birds.

At the porch, standing like sentinels to the front door, are multi-ball topiaries. We bought them pre-trimmed, and all we have to do is maintain its form. Perhaps keeping them alive is more challenging than just maintaining their shape.

We have a few topiaries inside the house too and they are scattered around the rooms. These are ivy plants that are trained in a wire structure.

above the fireplace mantel shelf in the living room

in a corner of the bedroom

even in the bathroom

Topiaries can be sometimes be difficult to maintain. It requires a lot of work and tender loving care. But in spite of the diligent attention, a few (or should I say more than a few) of our topiary still end up dying. Most especially when we go out of town or go on vacation for a few days or even weeks, that is when these living art-form can suffer. This is where the title topiary caretaker and topiary killer can confoundingly blend.

here’s one on the mend or on borrowed time

Because topiaries are live art, the downside of it is that it can wilt and die. Of course, you can choose to have artificial or fake plants and topiaries. They may be cheaper too. However, one pet peeve of mine is I don’t like plastic plants in our home. My philosophy is if we are going to display “plant-like” decorations, might as well make it the real thing. Having live plants is good for the home environment too.

Some non-live and non-plant decorations we have. These don’t need any watering or care.

Even though my wife do all the hard work in caring for our topiaries and plants (as well as making our home more homey), I do admit that I really like having them around. What is my contribution in their care? Well, does admiring them count?

master caretaker and her topiaries

Nature untouched is beautiful, but nature touched by human hands in a lovely and caring way can be as beautiful too. Training, twisting, clipping and shaping can create something divine. And this does not apply to topiaries alone, but to human character as well. Don’t you agree?

May you have a beautiful and blessed day!