My Unappreciated Rosemary

Driving home today, I passed a mass of lovely blue flowers. Wonder how long my rosemary bushes have been blooming?

I take my rosemary for granted. For many months it provides such charming flowers. It pleases bees.  It never needs water, it rarely needs pruning, it always spreads to cover the gaps, it drapes down the wall in an appealing manner. Its thick growth deters weeds. I could touch it every day and every day get a fantastic burst of powerful fragrance. Instead, at best, I brush against it by accident sometimes when I take the trash out.

It’s true I will always love the sage more but that does not excuse my neglect. I must try to do better.


An Ode to Earthworms

It rained last night, hard enough to wash earthworms into the streets. I used to try to relocate them back to the dirt but nowadays I just wish them luck or farewell. (Turns out to be crazy hard to pluck them from asphalt without hurting them.)

Earthworms have always intrigued me, from the days I used to dig to China in my backyard and they would slip away from the edges of my hole.  They move like a sound wave or certain earthquake waves, by contraction and expansion. They can live for a decade! I just learned from Wikipedia that they include a few, wide-ranging species which are called cosmopolitan earthworms.

And of course, if you are a gardener, they are your special allies. When they move through the soil, they make it looser – they are better aerators than any device. As a bonus, their excretions are a terrific fertilizer. I know somebody who enslaves earthworms to gather their pee and pour it at the feet of her flowers. The flowers do indeed thrive. Maybe it isn’t a horrible life for the worms. They live in a black plastic tub, but she is always feeding them treats like watermelon she buys especially for them. Still, I keep hoping for the right windstorm that will tip the tub and free the worms.

My Aging Lavender

As lavender bushes get older, they get leggy, a quality that is desirable in supermodels but not in plants.  The plants get woody, also. Woody and leggy are roughly the same idea: most of each branch or stalk loses its leaves and blooms, and grows naked and gnarled. The branch is not dead – there is still life at the top, as lovely and fragrant as ever. The onset of this condition can be delayed with the right care and grooming but it cannot be prevented.

Many a gardener removes a plant when it gets like this and I considered doing so yesterday. The aged lavender is right at the start of my front walkway – who wants to see a long-in-the-tooth mass of twisted branches? But I couldn’t bring myself to chop. After all, there is all that fresh growth at the end of each branch. And as I pruned away the dead stuff, I grew fond of the intricate twists of naked branches. Finding the right spot to clip, to extricate a dead branch from among the still living ones, was as satisfying as solving a complicated puzzle.

I now see those gnarled and interwoven branches as beautiful, also, in a very different way than the dusky leaves or their enveloping fragrance. The flowers are gorgeous but the twisted bare branches tell so much about how the lavender has grown and changed through its life. I hope I get many more years with this plant!

An Ode to Dirt

In between rainstorms, I just took the dog for a walk and it is so clean and fresh outside – it smells like dirt!

Dirt has always been important to me.  Dirt is being outdoors. Dirt is gardening, and the thrill of a plant thriving (okay, sometimes simply surviving) in my domain. Dirt is geology field trips, and reading the landscape to glimpse the history of the planet. Dirt is many happy childhood hours between the roots of the backyard tree, where I was determined to dig to China.

Dirt should not be confused with dust, however, which is a housekeeping annoyance.