Mother Nature: Litchfield Summer 2023

Mother Nature has always been the inspiration for my creative work. It makes sense that summertime is incredibly labor-intensive- caring for all those growing things that inspire creativity.  

Since flowers are the high point of plant life in my garden, one puts lots of time in to get the flowers. Of course, as we learned especially well this year, Mother Nature may have entirely different plans- regardless of what you do or don’t do. An early frost here in Connecticut killed the entire hill of azalea flowers, save one bush, a Maine native that blooms late. A hearty thanks to Maine!

The Andromeda bushes on the hill were overcome by Azalea bark scale and white fly, which eliminated both their flowers and new growth. I sprayed an organic product followed by a pesticide until I finally got it under control. Right now, I have new growth incoming. Fingers crossed for a clean bill of health next spring.  This season’s rain has been a huge boon to pest life. Given the bugs nasty habit of wintering over, I’ll be spraying dormant oil at the end of the season, and an additional oil application in early spring. What I learned. Be very cautious about taking advice from Facebook groups unless you’ve tried to either find an agricultural resource near you or a tested local grower who can advise you from his/her professional expertise. In Connecticut, I’ve had good luck with these people.

Fair Intervention

Sometimes, the business of selling can be a welcome respite from garden labor. This year, we decided to try our first fair in Lenox, MA. It involved two new aspects of selling- travel out of state for two days and rejiggering Square to reflect the MA sales tax. (ugh) Thankfully, we decided to go because Lenox is a lovely place to visit. Unfortunately, the sales didn’t match the effort and it probably won’t become an annual event. Still, we caught a needed break. One COULD say the entire trip was worth the fab dinner we had at Cello, a fantastic, tiny bistro serving New American cuisine.  

Our new tent with zippered sides was much appreciated- a distant second place to Larry’s steadfast support in the heat of it all. We had a visit from ( see inset top right) an adorable fair traveler. She was promoting another tent. I’m pretty sure it was for a sculptor. You think?

Sharon on the Green- August 5

Our next fair is Saturday, August 5, from 10-5 pm. A bit closer, for us and an historic event celebrating its 63rd year-juried crafts, free to all and food vendors too. Stop by and visit! The top photo at the start of this post is called Grand Prix- a new scarf displaying the finishing touch to what started as a momentary breakdown in digital streaming of the Austrian Grand Prix- sadly for Larry. For myself, I delighted in the resulting colors for my own inspiration. Grand Prix will be coming with us to Sharon.

I’ll be bringing Blue Sparkle in celebration of my Midnight Blue Morning Glories to Sharon, along with many more scarves and pillows.
The jumping worm invasion seems to have abated. However, I weeded the luxurious Dawn Redwood tree in the back yard and discovered some of the nasty critters. I took my new bag of magic biochar and sprinkled it over the moist soil before mulching the tree to keep down the weed growth. The abrasive texture of the biochar irritates jumping worms. Yay!
I had the pleasure of visiting a great local grower this summer in Burlington. Haven’t been in a couple years. Their flowers put most lilies bought elsewhere to shame. And, local daylilies simply don’t draw the abysmal infestations that hybrids and other lilies do. Zurles Family Farm is a veritable Lily Paradise. The inset is one of the flowers I picked- Fairytale Pink. It’s really a pale orange but it was the ruffles that stole my heart.
The good news is I’ve planted an adorable new hollyhock in the garden. The bad news is that like her two new neighbors- the soon-to-be blooming hardy hibiscus trees, she’s a Japanese beetle magnet! Up went the “bag a bug” station- 30 feet away. Will I never learn? Beauty has a price.

Take the Long Way

Take the Long Way is a great summer song- Why NOT take long way to just about anywhere in summertime? This is from Po’Girl’s album Vagabond Lullabies.

Po’Girl was a Canadian music group whose style derives from folk, country and jazz- also called urban roots- “rural music with urban lyrical content and appeal”- you can hear it in the rap segment. The band was named in 2003 by its two principals, Trish Klein of the Be Good Tanyas and Allison Russell from Fear of Drinking. Shortly after their first album they added a third member Diona Davies. You can hear her on the fiddle in this song. Po’Girl’s last album was recorded in 2010.

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  1. Kathy Daniel, Stone Ridge ‘73

    Mary—I would love to commission a flowy scarf skirt in blues, if you are up to it or know a local seamstress who might collaborate with you.

    After reading all of your gardening challenges, except for the native azalea, I think you might enjoy gardening with beautiful native plants. You would be amazed at the butterflies and birds they attract, because they evolved together.

    Native plants don’t need to be treated for (should not be treated for) insects, because the insects they attract feed birds. Once they are established, they only require water during droughts. They never need (never should have) fertilizer.

    I took the liberty of subscribing you to the Connecticut Botanical Society’s newsletter! You can cancel anytime. or follow their Facebook page, if you are on Facebook.

    I will order you a little “New England native plant library” (1-3 books) for your enjoyment. 🙂

    Frances can tell you what a native plant fanatic I am!

    Let me know what you think of the skirt commission.

  2. Kathy Daniel

    “Connecticut Native Plants” is probably the better Facebook page to join. Connecticut Botanical Society is more for botanists than gardeners.

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