Sunday, March 20, 2011

First Spring Crocuses

The weather has been lovely this weekend. Jeff and I traveled to Toronto for his birthday treat and then walked our flower beds to visit the crocus blooms.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Spring Thoughts on Pembroke Cottage

The pitter-patter of tiny raindrop feet heralds spring’s rebirth. It has not formally arrived, and surely won’t for another month or two, but the warmer temperatures stir my soul and my thoughts turn towards my dormant and hoary front garden.

My home, christened Pembroke Cottage the day I moved in, is surrounded by untended beds and rotted leaves; it looks terrible. There isn’t anything charming about the property although the house and back building still stand proud.

Pembroke Cottage isn’t a “cottage” by modern definition, although it sits on Pembroke Lane. It is Dutch colonial with craftsman propensities. Perfectly square and sporting a gambrel hat, the “cottage” was most likely a catalog home, arriving in a railway boxcar and hauled into the heart of pastureland and woods.

In a physical sense, the property falls into descriptions from the Middle Ages: the word cottage (MLat cotagium ) denoted not just a dwelling, but included at least a dwelling (domus ) and a barn (grangia ), as well as, usually, a fenced yard or piece of land enclosed by a gate (portum ).

The house stood on its own with only a few neighbors surrounding it. We were the hidden homes beyond Lover’s Lane, standing sentinel amidst the locust and buckeye trees that dominated the landscape (). Today the trees are gone and the home is kept company by mid-to-late-century dwellings in the sprawling Country Club area (the original clubhouse built at the same time as our home). We still do not have gutters or curbs. Our lane can accommodate only one vehicle at a time.

Our green tea-coloured siding is offset by a deep burgundy front door and window shutters, white porch fixtures and the intense green hues of our front garden. Normally so. Last season was dismal. I hadn’t much time to tend to the beds. The grass, haphazardly sown by the previous owner, is a hodgepodge of grass shoots, yellow woodsorrel, and roundleaf mallow.  I’m dreading what spring begets this year.

I’ve turned to trusty sources for inspiration. I’ve ordered fresh catalogs and reviewed old photographs of my gardens’ previous displays. This will be the year to gut everything that does not work, divide or transplant things that no longer fit properly, and recapture the dense cottage ambiance.

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“Pembroke” and “Cottage” are a fairly popular combination. Michael & Wanda Fairless of Guthrie, OK, offer a guest house aptly named Pembroke Cottage (it also sits on Pembroke Lane). The Guthries and I are not particularly clever with our home’s names but our hearts are in the right place.

Locust trees (Gleditsia triacanthos and Robinia pseudoacacia) and Buckeye trees (Aesculus glabra) can still be found throughout our area. They border our highways and fill our valleys.

Cyndi’s Catalog of Garden Catalogs is an excellent source of information for new gardeners. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A break in the weather

Heavy winter snows and deafening thunderstorms have tentatively conceded to clear skies. Tepid daylight filters through my windows. The air, laden with the scent of damp earth, remains crisp but tolerable upon the skin.
Buds are visible on the pale branches of my crabapple trees, and the red maple seems to bask in anticipation of spring’s approach. Song birds alight on branches and bramble; it is close to migratory season for warblers and soon our yards will momentarily play host to their vibrant blue, yellow and red plumages.  Chipmunks emerged from their dens today, blinking and rubbing paws over their short shouts and empty cheeks.