The Clueless Gardener

"fanaticus sine potestas"

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Did I 'Flunk' Yosemite?

Clueless returns from the High Sierras, where she was supposedly hiking in the back country of Yosemite National Park. Except, was I hiking? Instead of all-day slogs uphill on mountains for 7 or 8 or 9 miles before dinner, Hubb and I went on two to three 2-hour walks per day. We did a lot of walking, even a little real hiking, but never got very far from camp. The wonders of being way up high with the craggy mountaintops were, alas, for others who were stronger, had trained and prepared, who were acclimatized to the altitude, and, I can't help thinking, were more worthy than we were. The beauty was everywhere to behold, and we got an eyeful, but I do feel a twinge that me, Clueless, was clueless out on the High Sierra trails, too. Maybe we didn't flunk, but I'd say maybe we got a C+ (with an 'A' for staying overnight in a snug little tent cabin with two complete strangers!).

On a lighter note! Kudos to little Billy Mitchell of Shreveport, Penna, for correctly picking up on my Shakespeare pun on, "Exit, pursued by a bear," the famous stage direction from 'The Winter's Tale." T'was in the form of my blog post headline, "Exit, Pursued By a Bee," of a couple weeks back. As soon as this blog has a T-Shirt, you'll get your prize, Billy! By the way, the bees are still chasing me out of the garden...hard to get any work done. Now that the perennial blue lobelias are in full bloom, the bumbles are everywhere, and they seem to be cantankerous. In addition to my fingertip trim job of a few weeks ago, I don't want to add bee stings on my face! Why do they buzz my face?! My bee-shyness has transformed the back quadrant of the flowerbed into a total neglected disaster, as that is the locale of one of the bee burrows, plus it's full of lobelia, which self-seeds every-damn-where. So I just pretend it isn't there.

Note to self: grow lots of verbena bonariensis from seed next year so the display won't be so skimpy.

Speaking of exits pursued by a bear, I have indeed got seed in my humble bird feeder, and so far have not lured any bears into the yard. My belle-soeur Lorrainey sent me an article written by Tom Christopher, all about bears in the southern Berkshire area. Hope my nervous neighbor, who wants me to take down the feeder, doesn't get "House and Garden" ! And I hope the bears can't read, either. I've just had a hummingbird checking out the seed feeder, wondering if there's anything to eat for him, and it just plain tugs my heart that I don't have a sugar feeder out there for him. Then there'd really be trouble with the neighbors!

One last whine: the garden centers and big box stores have officially bidden goodbye to summer, by stocking hundreds of those ugly, ordinary, boring, pots of chrysanthemums. I always am stunned the first day I see them outside the supermarket. I never buy them, since they seem to only have one flower type, in two or three colors. There are more interesting mums out there, guys! How about some real variety? And why can't you please sell them in November when we really want them for Thanksgiving? Just wondering.

The little chickadee out the window is cheeping, "Train! Train! Train!" instead of "Dee, dee, dee," evidently chiding me for being ill-prepared for Yosemite. Send over a personal trainer and a padded beekeeper's suit, please, and all will be well again over here. Happy Labor Day.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Exit, Pursued By a Bee

Has it ever happened that you've found yourself living in a cartoon? A 1930's cartoon, with birds tweeting and bees buzzing? I sometimes feel that happiness in the garden, when I hear the buzzing and the birds calling, and see the butterflies flitting about. But the other day, my cartoon was interrupted by real life! There hasn't been much rain in the Berkshires, and it's hot, so I dragged out the hose and the watering wand. As I walk to and fro in the garden bed, I notice such charming things as the leaves chomped off by deer, the "logus of the bogus" consuming the Etoile Violette clematis, and other mild irritants. All offset by the wonderful blooms all around, and the promise of bunnies on the lawn at dusk. Anyway, watering is going along uneventfully, as I daydream, then I realize I've gotten too close to the underground nest of what looks like bumblebees, over next to the nicotianas...
...there followed an angry buzzing, wait, is it directed at me?! I am incredulous, it all seems too animated. But yes, the bee is coming after me! He's coming at my head! I grab my hat to shield my face! Then I realize I have to get outta there, because I might be stung! I back out of the flowerbed, then knock the bee away from my head with my hat, but he keeps after me! I run all the way out of the back yard into the house! That bee followed me down to the house door, which I slammed behind me! I prudently decided it was time for a little break, and gulped some seltzer and mopped my brow. When the coast seemed clear, I ventured back out to the garden, where the bees sometimes get mad, and the Felcos occasionally shear off fingertips. My favorite place on earth!