I awaken to George Floyd crying out for mercy in the hour of his death. How do we feel in that hour? George called out for his Mama. Facing the abyss because of an accusation. An accusation in which a white man has revealed that upon finding he was holding a counterfeit bill in his bank with security and a cop in witness, was handed back the bill and sent on his way.
I’m working hard to not let my life and my work fade away in the midst of global unrest amidst Covid-19. It gets easier as the days go by. At least I’m not crying daily anymore. Time to get on with it. Thank goodness for the sunshine and my gardens. The Establishment will never stop the dawn, the flow of the waters, Sun and Moon across the sky. I bathed in the showers yesterday! There’s nothing like a Spring shower, heck a shower Spring or Summer, which is Saturday, by the way.
Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year and the days proceed to get shorter. It takes a couple of months to actually notice, but make no mistake, we are heading into the wan of the season. That time of year to pull back and in and down and bask in gratitude, starting to assess the season. I have downloaded the soundtrack to Cry Freedom and it makes me smile. A lovely tribute to Steven Biko, a strong and amazing hero of apartheid. What if we protested using the Toyi Toyi like our South African brothers and sisters? The strong rapturous vocals on the soundtrack lift my soul to the heavens.
Black people worldwide, a rhythm in their step, walk through this world with grace. We can point fingers, but we only need look to the greatest empire the world has ever known - Egypt and Pharoah and the Jewish slaves to gain clarity on the march of empire through human civilization. An Exodus that possibly sparked the displacement of the Palestinian (Canaanite?), the power structure at the heart of our struggle today as Amerikkka and Israel defend themselves agains the international criminal court. Amerikkka is officially accountable to no one. Now I know why the president is the most powerful person in the world.
Anyhooo, the days have been amazing. The gardens are planted for the most part. Tomatoes, Peppers are going in at SDG and I have Fennel for the first time, woohoo! Sunroot are in all the gardens, my long term plan. Can’t wait to see those sweet yellow flowers in the breeze. Hiddenbrooke winds down, perennials in the ground, just looking like mowing and weeding from here on out. It is an interesting development. I can’t say I didn’t wonder how I was going to fill the entire meadow with herbs. Here is an opportunity to watch the plants take their place naturally. Ten years at SDG and Wild Bergamot, Echinacea, Motherwort and Catnip have made their place. I used our compost on the beds last year and Borage and Lamb’s Ear have returned wild after seven years. At Sally Garden Anise Hyssop travels into the forest. What a gift to engage in the gardens at the ten year mark. We are considering trees - Elderberry, Redbud - and berries at Hiddenbrooke in the coming years. I mow creating pathways around the herb beds which makes a fun design throughout the garden. I used old seed (2012) for Milk Thistle starts (Silybum marianum, Asteraceae, Annual, Asia, Southern Europe) and I didn’t get anything, so I have one last bed covered in black plastic.
Borage, Borago officinalis, Boraginaceae, Annual, Europe
Her flowers have been used to decorate salads and cakes and frozen in ice cubes. The leaves contain minerals. The leaf and flower infusion has been used to treat the adrenal glands easing stress and depression. Reduces fevers, dry coughs, skin rashes and stimulates milk flow. I eat the flowers or drop them in my water in the garden for a sweet lift.
Lamb’s Ear, Stachys byzantina, Labiatae, Perennial, Turkey, Armenia, Iran
No much herbal information on Lamb’s Ear, but what a lovely contrast in the garden with her soft gray leaves and pink flowers.
At fifty-three, winding down and observing is a welcome development. I have had the opportunity to get outside at White Pine Community Farm (www.afarmforallny.org) this season, weeding Lemon Balm, Anise Hyssop and Echinacea beds. We work on maintaining our herb operation since Ben (the head farmer) has moved into micro greens - the money maker. We do have a forty member Herbal CSA that Phil (Ben’s business partner) and I work to maintain this season. It dawned on me at the beginning of the season that Ben was at capacity with the micro greens, the office was in a good place and I could get outside and manage the perennials. I must say they look good right now. I still have to get to Elecampane, Marshmallow and Burdock, but we’re getting there. I realize I should just incorporate the work into my regular growing season. It’s times like these when the gifts of the Spirit fill me with gratitude. My life in service, I am content.
And wonder of wonders, Misha English Cottage Garden takes shape with an array of ornamentals and herbs. As a gardener it is always a delight to engage in a new style. As I’ve mentioned, I was born in England so an English Cottage Garden is near and dear to my heart. We spend hours in nurseries looking for varieties that Misha has researched over the years. Perhaps its time to find a book on the subject. Last Autumn, we planted Valerian and Comfrey. I brought Misha the plants and when I arrived, I couldn’t start planting without organizing her garden supplies which led to her becoming a client. “I want an English Cottage Garden,” she said and my wittle English heart skipped a beat and I was immediately intrigued. I can always dash off into fantasies of being royal - Queens and Kings, Dutchesses and Dukes. We can be snobs for a day in Misha’s English Cottage Garden. I am working in the garden once a month and our first planting was:
‘Gold Heart’ Old-fashioned Bleeding Heart, Dicentra spectabilis,
Clematis ‘Jackmanii,’ Clematis x Jackmanii
Donahues Clematis Gillian Blades
Columbine ‘Crimson Star’, Aquilegia hybrid
Zagreb Threadleaf Coreopsis, Coreopsis verticillata ‘Zagreb’
Montauk Daisy, Nipponanthemum nipponicum
’Radiant Rose’ Spotlight Series Hollyhock, Alcea rosea
Oriental Lily ‘Stargazer,’ Lilium orientale
Peach Drift Rose ‘Meiggli’, Rosa ‘Drift Peach’
Sedum Autumn Joy, Sedum spectabile
Profusion Double Fire Zinnia
Vinca, an estate groundcover, is planted in all the beds and as we plant, we transplant Vinca to the slope to match the other side of the stairs from the sidewalk to the house which has an established Vinca stand. From what I understand so far, we have planted perennials and then we are filling in with annuals for instant color.
Our second planting is:
Canna, Cannova Yellow
Dahlia hybrid, ‘Mystic Illusion’
Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus,’ Magnus Purple Coneflower
Hibiscus hybrid, Summerific ‘Berry’ Awesome
Tradewinds Hibiscus, Sunny Wind
Lavender, French Phenomenal
Rose White Dawn, Large-flowered Climber
Salvia nemorosa ‘Lyrical Blues’
Salvia nemorosa ‘May Night’
Native and restorative are out the window as are botanical names and families replaced with the creator of the particular plant. Flower breeding is easily on the level of dog breeding, inventors holding as much pride in their creation. Only the most beautiful of plants are a consideration in an English Cottage Garden, no doubt an array of plants from the former English colonies. Plants have been colonized as well. Leads one to wonder, what did England do before they “discovered” vividly colored plants, not to mention “exotic spices for food. I am excited to research and find out the origins of the English Cottage Garden plants.
Worldwide protest is exciting. We have found our common ground. Empire is the struggle throughout the ages. It is Europe’s turn. We have African, Asian, including East Indian empires that occurred in BC, which may have been 300,000 years. Is anyone counting? Empire is the battle, we the people have struggled against throughout human civilization. The fight is always for the people no matter the current empire. Power to the People! ✊🏽