For the past few weeks, I’ve been living in Cathryn Marcher’s garden — without the pumpkins.
Since moving into our new home, I’ve had the pleasure of gardening for the first time in seven years. While living in a city-bound apartment, I made do with potted plants on the balcony. Now I have about 5,000 square feet of lawn, trees and flowerbeds.
I also have hundreds of volunteers — not the helping kind! Since our lawn did not appear from under the layers of snow until late April, trees and shrubs have had free reign to seed the grass with their own progeny: honeysuckle, ash tree, morning glory, dandelions had all grown to the height of at least six inches by the time our new lawn-mower arrived.
Removing these volunteers from my grassy realm proved beyond my capabilities. Even days of crawling on hands and knees, digging out taproots and consigning leaves and seedheads to the compost bin made no difference to the number of seedlings propagating amongst the blades of green. Even our resident bunny has not made a dent although it has helped in the cropping of the blades’ height in its grazing area.
To my delight, the flowerbeds are less endangered by weed-growth. Although Ground Elder (aka Queen Anne’s Lace) has raised many heads in the lawn and along the back fence, the perennials such as Peony and Daffodils, Iris and Gladiola have a much stronger will to exist.
Another joy is the abundance of lilacs. When I was a child living in Maine, my favorite hiding place was a grove of lilac bushes at the back of our house. I attempted to grow lilacs on the balcony, but the plant never took hold despite coddling. Because of my fondness for the blossoms, I had them in my wedding bouquet along with red roses and the requisite Baby’s Breath (Gypsophilia).
My four lilac bushes had grown so tall, they were competing with the Locust for space and encroaching on the neighbor’s property. With the information from a tree surgeon that lilacs can be treated as shrubs, I cropped and snipped until all the dead foliage and blossoms were gone and the bushes had the energy to produce fragrant spears again.
From Chapter One: “Rupert smirked, turned his gaze back to the window, waved the mist out of his face, inhaled the summer rain deep into his lungs along with the scent of white lilacs.”
From Chapter Four: ‘Noam Snyder pulled up on the reins, bringing the old buggy alongside Cathryn’s front yard, tipping his cap and wiping beads of sweat from his brow. “Mighty hot for a lady to be working like that,” he called out to his tenant.
‘“Now’s the best time,” she called back, straightening her back, pressing a dirty hand on her lower spine. “These pumpkins won’t win any prizes this year unless someone gives them a hand.” She wiped her neck with a handkerchief and wacked at the weeds in her pumpkin patch. “I swear these dandelions know I’ve got better things to do. They just grow out of spite.”’
From Chapter Fifteen: “Running and stumbling through the woods like a mad woman got her as far as the clump of lilac she’d hidden in as a little girl, afraid to go home for the licking her father promised when she refused to help her mother with the washing because she wanted to play the piano for a few minutes more.”
As Pavane for Miss Marcher illustrates, gardening and lilacs are features of my life in fiction and fiction in my life. My latest novel set Down In Maine is available in print and digital editions on all online booksellers and by order from me! Digital Edition $3.95 / Signed Print Edition $15.00 inc postage.
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