Monthly Archives: June 2012

A Stroll around the Gardens

Here are some beloveds filling the Flower beds right now.

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Maltese Cross makes a bold statement especially as set off by the Evening Primrose in the background.

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Even as most of the Roses are dropping their petals, this Clematis still makes a lovely contrast as it climbs over a John Davis Rose.
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Not all the Roses have gone by yet. Some are still looking their best including the Konigin Von Danemark Rose.

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Feverfew volunteers abundantly in the Arbor Garden. Here it encircles an Icelandic Poppy.
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This Rudbeckia is called Irish Eyes for obvious reasons.
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In the Venus Garden, the annuals start to plump up!

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This Geranium, new to the farm is called Garden’s Joy.

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The Honeybees were going nuts today- Something out in their world was offering up a lot of pollen. In a wacky experiment, I recorded the answering machine message from right by one of the hives, hoping the incredible buzz of bees would be able to be heard on the message. I am not sure it worked, but it gave everyone in the office a laugh as I crouched down amongst the bees to record the message.

Meriden Island

Tristan de Cunha. Located 1,700 miles off the coast of South Africa, 2,000 miles from South America and smack dab in the middle of the Atlantic, this 37.8 square mile island is considered to be one of the remotest places on earth.

In 1506, portuguese explorer, Tristao da Cunha, did a sail-by without landing. In a typical bout of explorer hubris, this sail-by seemed to be enough for him to decide to name the uninhabited island after himself.

It wasn’t until 1643 that people actually came ashore and it took until 1810 for someone to settle permanently on the island. This first full time resident, Jonathan Lambert, was originally from Salem, Massachusetts. Apparently he was a bit of a dreamer or simply a big egotist like Tristao. He claimed the island as his kingdom in 1810. His rule of what he called, “the Islands of Refreshment” was short lived as he died in a boating accident in 1812, shortly before the British took control of the island in 1816.

The British swept in to “annex” the island when they began to worry the French would use Tristan da Cunha to stage a rescue operation of Napoleon from his prison on Saint Helena, an island located 1,500 miles north.

Annex is a nice word in relation to housing, but in history it is rarely a good thing when a country annexes anything. However, Tristan da Cunha is so remote that it has remained challenging for the British to play out any imminent domain/masters of the universe sort of dramas on her shores. One exception to their hands-off management style occurred in 1961 when the British required the entire population to evacuate the island due to a volcanic activity.

The current population is thought to have descended from 15 ancestors, eight males and seven females, who arrived on the island at various times between 1816 and 1908. At present the population is about 275. I expect it was just shy of this number in 1961 when the islanders were relocated first to Cape Town, South Africa and then to a collection of disused huts in Pendell Army Camp in Surrey, England then finally to a Royal Air force station in Southampton.

When I was a young girl, I read a book about the islanders’ experience in the modern world and their decision to go back to Tristan da Cunha come hell, high water or further volcanic explosions.
Their story appealed to me on so many levels. I felt just as they did about city noise and modern contraptions. I could well imagine making the decision to go back to their tiny community and wild island world. I was ready to go there myself.

Lucky for me, life settled me in a place with some odd similarities to Tristan da Cunha. The 2000 census lists the landmass of “Meriden Island” with a population of 309 while more current data lists it’s population as 211. I haven’t noticed a large exodus so I expect our population is really pretty much like Tristan da Cunha at around 275. The “sea” around our tiny landmass is not as empty as in the south Atlantic. It contains Walmarts and Home Depots as well as large tracks of forest lands.

Out on those high seas, smart phones work and people can upload to Facebook without problems. Here on Meriden Island, the smart phones don’t work. Or at least on this part of Meriden island, this funny hill, the inhabitants have to leave home to talk on their iPhones. Even sending a text requires walking around our hay field until a message finally finds a way to launch. I don’t exactly know why we are in what off-islanders call a “dead zone” but we are. The folks on Tristan da Cunha may even be doing better with technology than us. In 2005 they were given a UK postal code to (TDCU 1ZZ) to make it easier to shop online. Perhaps they have their own cell tower now too.

Were we to reside on actual high seas like Tristan da Cunha, people might understand why we have so many technology snafus here on Meriden Island. I am sorry for all the technology problems we have that complicate connecting with us. We may not appear to be on a remote island in the middle of the Atlantic, but for some reason, technologically speaking, we are.

Our phone problems are legion. Email gets hung up and arrives in clumps at random moments according to the whims of forces unknown to us. Lately, there have been even more delays than usual. Our DSL line is slow as molasses because we live so far down the line as to be only able to get unreliable service. That is what they keep telling us when we call to ask them to clear our line or “do something” to help us out. I have spent a month trying to upload a new photo to our Facebook page and even with Jim, Ben and Will involved, nothing will load. It used to be easy to upload photos. Just a month ago in fact, but apparently right now, no can do. So far, I can still launch blogs from here. Fingers crossed that this stays true. Soon I may have to go off-island to some cafe with wireless to get anything done.

Not to worry. We are here. Our gardens are full of Flowers and our shelves full of Flower Essences ready for you. We open every email we get when we get it, and most of them do seem to get here eventually. We go to town each day to get our mail from you and to mail you your packages. I seem to have gotten my wish to live on a Tristan da Cunha, a place cut off from the hustle and bustle of modern life. And despite my occasional hand wringing, I like the quiet of all these things not working quite right. I like that we hear the thrushes all day long and watch fireflies at night. If there is a mandatory evacuation for a volcanic eruption, I will come back as soon as I can. I like it on this hilltop, this island of old fashion refreshment. And from this spot, we do our best to keep sending you our Flower Love. And we will keep doing this no matter what.

Hops Whiplash

We have been in the middle of a heat wave as well as a technology meltdown.

“My” computer is tucked in a corner of the bottling room, a room closer by twenty seven steps to the living room couch than the three computers in the shipping wing. This means it requires much less effort to roll off the couch and take over this computer than to seize control of an office machine.

You may wonder why any of my kin are vying for control of something as antiquated as a desktop computer in this age of iPhones. Even now, we remain in a quirky spot in the hills of New Hampshire where no one’s cell phones work. We can’t even get a photo to launch on our Facebook page these days as our DSL line is so far from wherever it needs to be to actually work.

For these reasons and many more, “my” computer is everyone’s default computer, and much like a hearth of old, there are usually people of all ages, shapes and sizes warming “my” seat. “My” computer sees so much traffic, I swear the UPS guy routinely stops in to use it on his way through to pick up our packages.

You know what, I could explain why “my” computer died last week, but it’s really a long boring story: TMF as in Too Many Files probably sums it up best.

And needless to say, when old Bessie died, many of my seat warmers were very happy to whip out and buy “me” a replacement.

With my TMF problem, I have to admit to being relieved that “I” needed a new computer. Just getting to the Google home page took so long it required the patience of Mother Theresa (and she is perhaps the only person I know of who hasn’t used “my” computer lately).

So today, there is a new computer in “my” spot. As William was both a part of old Bessy’s demise as well as a part of the solution, I feel it is only fair to dedicate this first blog on the new computer to Will and his trials and tribulations in the garden.

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Yes, it’s a first. A plant actually whipped itself across Will as he walked by it and gave him this injury.

The offending plant? This Hops vine that grows so fast in a Dr. Seussian sort of way that I can’t say I am surprised that it slapped Will on his way into the house.
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Will, the Hops plant may not be feeling too apologetic, but I am sorry for your injury. Now, get out of my chair and let me post this.

More Roses and a Scotch Tape Story

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First a few more Rose photos. This is their moment in our gardens! Here’s La Belle Sultane Rose. This is one of the first Roses that I fell for. After her arrival, I began to look for more and more old fashioned shrub Roses. They offer so much beauty, fragrance and wisdom, and they’re tough enough to survive our winters!
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Here’s Alchymist Rose early this morning. This one often dies back hard in the winters, but she always comes back strong. Her coloring is nothing short of mesmerizing.
Madame Legras de St Germain Rose shares the fence with Clematis Montana.

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White Roses are a challenge to photograph. In photos, they look much more washed out than they are in person. Here’s Madame up close, but again, she is much prettier in person.
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Final Rose photo of the day is Konigin von Danemark. She’s the one for dissolving shame spirals and any ideas that we aren’t lovable just the way we are. She really is love incarnate.
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Now my scotch tape story. Last week, Emily assembled a list of all the Flowers that still need photos on the website. I was very surprised to find we didn’t have a photo of Blue Flag Iris. Since this has been part of the collection since our first years in the late eighties, it seemed an odd oversight- also annoying to find this out now since the Blue Flag Iris are all gone by in the gardens here.

On my lunchtime walk with MayMay, we went on a route we haven’t taken in a few weeks and gratefully stumbled on a lone Blue Flag Iris looking quite woebegone in a ditch. Unfortunately as I picked the Blue Flag Iris to bring home to photograph, I added insult to injury and pretty much tore her petals off.

Feeling a bit desperate, I decided to try taping the Flower together for its photo shoot. The falling petal on the right is taped on and there have been other repairs. Despite the triage, there was something that still looked a little beat up about the Flower. After the photo shoot, I decided it’s droopy and bedraggled look ( through no fault of its own) wasn’t representative of the Essence, and I would have to wait ’til next year for a photo after all.

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A few minutes later white picking up piles of weeds at the top of the drive, I caught a flash of purple tucked behind a group of Celandine. There was another lone Blue Flag Iris. So much for my theory they were all gone.
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Here it is! A Blue Flag Iris that really sings of this Essence’s glory. I thank all Blue Flag Iris involved in this morning’s photo adventures and the Roses too!

What’s blooming?

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Roses reaching to the skies (Will Baffin Rose)

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Roses for our Beloveds ( the Dog Rose)

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Roses of Courage ( Alex Mackenzie Rose)

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Roses that ease our winter chills (Frontenac Rose)

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Roses in bud (Belle Poitebine Rose)
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Roses everywhere!
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Vegetables too!

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And more to plant!