"Garden Glimpses at Critter Cove"

Pat Fish

In one more week, the gardens will be in full bloom. In fact, I would venture that soon gardens all across America will be in full and glorious bloom for all to admire.

The hollyhocks are now pushing to open and it is only for them that I delay my full-bloom announcement for a week.

Indeed, many of the plantings are blooming, preparing for autumn bloom, or have bloomed and are growing strong for next year's spring. It is the portulaca that have finally decided to enchant me with their colorful blossoms just this week.

I watched them faithfully grow a green head of steam that would result in a summer full of pretty little flowers in daily diverse colors. I splurge on the little spot of all-day sunshine in this shady lot for the portulaca so that I can pretend, if only for two months, that I live in a sunny hacienda with moss roses climbing at my doorway.

The thing about portulaca, they close their flowers at day's end to start the new day with fresh and different colored blossoms. Of all the flowers in my eco-garden, only the portulaca blooms buffed white, buttery yellow, and brilliant red, all on the same plant! Now I must start each morning awaiting the sun to shine on the portulaca so that I may ascertain the color scheme of the day.

This morning they offered blooms of pale orange, soft yellow, bright pink, and subtle white. Tomorrow, who knows?

Daylilies are now blooming all over the eco-gardens, from the woodland orange down by the river, to a frilly soft yellow in a whiskey barrel planter by the porch, to a deep brown in yet another container on the top lawn tier. I must thank the gardening gods for daylilies, that half-wild plant that thrives even under the oak canopy here in Critter Cove. The critters leave them alone, and they have proved to be a real performer as the only bulb plant to re-bloom with vigor when planted in the many containers throughout the eco-lot.

The astilbe have finished their bloom, but still wave faded pastel flags from THEIR container in which they thrive and bloom each year. The miniature crepe myrtle grows tall, green, and promising in its appointed tier garden.

I have pinched the chrysanthemum until the July 4 deadline, and it grows bushy with promises of healthy fall blooms. The asters and autumn joy also grow with promise of an eco-garden that will bloom beautifully, even in the Merryland autumn.

It is the hollyhocks that are slow to release their bloom, but I am a patient one. They, too, grow from a container and they, too, are returning for a second year with what promises to be a handsome and tall bloom.

The azaleas and wigelias throughout the lot, having spent their bloom in early spring, grow new green in the summer sun that encourages future flowerings in future springs.

A basket of petunias hangs from a sunny spot alongside some planters of begonias and impatiens. They are all blooming with contentment in their spot of half-sun and half-shade. A few coleus plants sharing containers with impatiens also thrust their pretty leaves open wide as a compliment to their container mates. Ferns wave airy fronds happily from their spot under a protective and shady oak. The coreopsis is now in full bloom and this pretty bush, with its ferny foliage topped by small yellow flowers that wave like floral stars above the birdbath, does quite like it here. The bumblebees also quite enjoy the coreopsis, although a few busy bee fellows were distracted, I noticed, by the blooming portulaca now also waving seductive flowers to keep them occupied indefinitely.

It is the most peaceful and pretty place on earth, this eco-garden. I find I must allot myself free time to garden gaze. For what good is the wonderful bloom if my human eyes don't drink it all in?

Then again, I bet those flowers would bloom anyway, regardless of my human eyes.