I took these photos in early May, when I got out the dahlia tubers that had overwintered in luxury (paper bags in Rob's studio). Last summer's perfect growing season had given the plants, and therefore the tubers, a burst of energy the likes of which I can only vaguely remember from my teen years. I ended up with 27 potted tubers, which would inevitably result in 27 potted plants, which would all require homes in the perennial garden.
Which had room for about twelve.
I've pretty much exhausted the willing recipients of dahlia plants. (My friend Kim took two or three this year, but only because she was already hooked before I admitted that her husband had previously refused them.) So, even though I had a book to finish and Places to Go later in the month, I decided, naturally, to expand the back flowerbed by roughly two-thirds. (I like to think I wouldn't have done it if I'd known I was going to be felled by the Cold that Wouldn't Die two weeks later. But we'll never know for sure, will we?)
If this had just been a matter of digging up some sod, adding compost and lime, and sticking in some dahlias, it wouldn't have been so bad. But the complication is that I've run out of sunny spots for flowerbeds, so this new bed was half-shade and unsuitable for dahlias. I had shade plants that now were in the sun because of massive tree-cutting the winter before last, plus I had newish apprentice perennials that had proved unmanageable and had been sentenced to exile in the wilderness.
So, while I finished the first round of CONOR'S BANSHEE (emailed to agent and editor yesterday, thank you very much), I also was playing perennial pinball in the garden. Dug up euphorbia and campanula, put in dahlias. Transplanted blue-flag iris, put in dahlias. Also put dahlias in their usual place, except more crowded than usual. Bought some new astilbe and astrantia (shade-lovers) and stuck them partly in the new bed but partly in the old bed. From which I transplanted violets and some other thing whose name I can't remember.
Here (below) is where it stands at the moment. The new bed is in the back, definitely a work in progress because I'm leaving lots of space for growth and the crap soil needs several more applications of compost and seaweed. The new astilbes etc (plus some old astilbes which I...er...transplanted) are in the lower left.
Hmm. This isn't sounding like as much of a horror show as it was. Did I mention that we've had a weird late bloom of black flies, coinciding with the regular bloom of mosquitoes? Ah...now I have your attention. One of the little suckers found its way under my shirt and bit me just above the naval. The rest were content to swarm around waiting for my organic bug-repellent to wear off, which it does about once an hour.
There are other seasonal miracles. A leopard's bane, which flowers in late April, burst into life today and emitted one more perfect bloom, which we hadn't even seen coming. Maybe the rapture is due after all.
Not a miracle (except in the broadest possible sense) but the peony's looking good, too. Kinda makes it all worthwhile, doesn't it?
The knitting report: We don't get television once the trees leaf out, so I'm a little less productive. But I'm on the second sock of another cotton pair, which will make FIVE total since I started. And yet I am not bored.
The writing report: Bye-bye Conor, at least for the moment. A day off, maybe two. Then I'm either starting something new or refurbishing something old. Not sure which.