Friday, May 16, 2014

Catching Up to May

Spring is still mostly blooming indoors in Minnesota right now, so the girls and I took a "Beautiful Day" trip a week ago to the Como Park Zoo & Conservatory last week.  The zoo and gardens are free, so it is always pretty busy. School buses often line the avenues around the park and fill in the parking lots. They, however, are usually more interested in the zoo. We came for the plants and enjoyed a peaceful morning of sketching with sounds of trickling water and birdsong amidst heady flower fragrance.

Maia - yes, that's her on the right! - is now very blonde, and matches the pastel springtime palette quite nicely! :)

Years ago, when the girls were very small - I think Maia was 6 and Eve 3 1/2, I had the idea of a Beautiful Day in May. I remember it as May first, but I could be confusing things. If it was May 1st, it would have had to have been a very warm May. I may be combining it in my mind with delivering May baskets on May Day... In any event, whether it was the first or not, and whether we went from delivering baskets or on another day in May, we did take ourselves out of doors to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. We dressed up in "beautiful" clothes and listened to "beautiful," classical music on our way to and from the arboretum. We had lunch and did our school lessons sitting by a stream at the base of a waterfall. As we were leaving, we passed by all the crab apple trees that were in bloom. People were enjoying picnics beneath the trees as petals floated down all around them. It was like something from a dream and is a day I'll never forget with my little girls.

I have long since thought of that day and decided that after our very long, cold winter, we definitely needed another Beautiful Day! Perhaps we'll make it a tradition! We didn't make it out to the Arboretum; it's a much longer drive from where we live now. But the Conservatory's gardens are wonderful. The Sunken Garden is the most colorful, as this is where they plant seasonal flowers. The lilies were HUGE and the foxgloves were amazing - my favorite there! I have not yet had success with foxgloves, but I plan to keep trying because they are stunning!

We toured the Japanese garden, but as hardly anything was blooming, the leaves weren't even yet on the trees, and the water features were still bare, it wasn't very exciting. Admittedly, we have a pretty high bar after visiting the incredible Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens when we lived in Florida. I had never heard of the Morikami, by the way, until we took our long weekend mini-vacation to the east coast of Florida. But I can tell you that it is not to be missed! Some things are more hype than anything else, but the Morikami was enchanting. If you're ever around the Ft. Lauderdale/ Boca Raton area, look it up!

Getting back to Minnesota, LOOK who was on MY vehicle when we got out of the park? We saw this handsome fellow on the way in and here he was on my car when we came out! First, I must tell you that bluebirds are my absolute favorite bird. And then I must tell you that this was only the second time in my life that I have seen one! They are primarily meadow dwellers and I've generally lived in more populated areas, so I don't get to see them very often. Paul and Eve built me some bluebird houses for our Florida house, but the only things that ever lived in them were tree frogs. :(

Como Park has its own house up surrounded by lots of open space (just like bluebirds like it) and it is appropriately occupied! Oh, he was so handsome and had such a beautiful song. Seeing him was the perfect touch to our second Beautiful Day.

Back home, the lawn is green as can be and the trees are just starting to leaf out. Green is the main color around these parts as perennials begin waking up in the garden beds. I added a small bed around the corner of the kitchen garden. Hollyhocks are coming up from last year!! I had no idea they survived; they were so pitiful looking last year, I was sure they were a failure. So imagine my surprise when I saw such nice-sized green leaves under a protective covering of fallen brown leaves leftover from last autumn! 

So I've planted the geraniums and some tall snapdragons in front of the hollyhocks. I also planted white morning glories and moon flower all along the fence too as well as more hollyhock seeds to see if I can get these biennials to alternate years with their blooms in order to have them every year. I definitely have a vision; I just wonder if it will come to fruition? And that is the plight of the gardener every year: waiting to see if the garden of their mind will become a reality!

I've got some flower boxes for my deck. They are new this year and look pretty lonely, but we've got some nasturtium seeds planted around those tall grasses that Eve diligently collected from last year's garden, so we should be seeing some sprouts in a couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, the strawberries have spread the length of the box if not having filled all in yet. There's still chamomile in the middle there. The lavender didn't make it; I've planted some quinoa in its place. We'll see if it does anything!

Out front, things are mostly green yet, but I am pleased with the number of transplanted perennials from last year are coming back. I think I lost a hosta or two which is kind of surprising to me, but the ones that have returned seem healthy. I love to see them unfurl bit by bit every day. My neighbor, Kim, shared some lily-of-the-valley with me too and those are growing as though they were never moved from across the street!

We've wrapped up nearly all our school activities for the year. Eve still has a bit of science and math yet, but Maia is focused on graduation now. Endings and new beginnings all in one. It is springtime and we shall commence!

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