1. I put almost every kind of rose I have in a jar and brought it to a friend. 2. Jude the Obscure is one of my favorite novels & also the name of a floppy, faded peachy English rose. 3. Josiah called them Power, Corruption & Lies flowers and that made me happy.
(I am working on some new paintings I'll share soon - in the meantime, The Flower Channel!)
June is so gracious. I go out into the garden every day and usually come back with a jar of something. Then I marvel to Josiah (who listens for the hundredth time) about how it all happens, about how it feels like Aladdin's cave out there, about the delicate and temporary riches of flowers.
I can't ever get over it - they're just out there, with almost no help at all, working their magic. Somewhere underground, something says ABRACADABRA and the garden makes things so beautiful and voluptuous and fleeting your eyes turn into hypnotic spirals.
The roses are blooming their hearts out and it's the last of the foxgloves and the beginning of the bellflowers.
I just got back home from an NYC trip for BEA and I am floppy and tired and I want to post about the nice whirlwind that it was but I'd like to make a drawing or two to accompany it. In the meantime, enjoy some helianthum, one of (I think) the best little flowers around.
The crepe-papery blooms seem too delicate to last (but they do) and the little chains of unopened buds are like fairy garlands. Charmers at every stage, like all the best things.
You're tuned into the flower channel, didn't you know?
Today it is my wonderful Amy's birthday. I made her a ramshackle bouquet from my garden (possibly, no, certainly with a few small bonus bugs included.)
I also made her my favorite lemon poppyseed cake.
It's nice little loaf, very much a little cake-baby when it's all bundled in waxed paper.
I use Mark Bittman's recipe fromHow to Cook Everything (I checked around online for it, but I wasn't able to sleuth it out.) I make a few changes, like subbing oil for half the butter, mainly because I just can't bring myself to use two sticks in something that ends up so small. I am also very heavy-handed with the poppyseeds & the lemon.
One of the best things about liking to bake is that (given the ingredients) you always have the wherewithal to bring someone something nice.
Growing flowers is that way, too, if the time is right. They're similar that way. Both humble things, cakes and flowers, and the kind of things you bring to someone to make their day a little nicer. I wish it was blooming season all year 'round just for that reason, but we then we'd lose pumpkins and snow flurries and it really wouldn't be right.
Very lucky for us, then, you can bake someone a lemon cake any time of year.
Right now, it's barely an exaggeration to say that my flowers and my drawings and paintings are my whole life. They run my days and rule my mind. I think that's just the month of May, for me.
These roses were so heavy, they were threatening to snap off a whole cane of my best and most favorite rosebush. (I'm resisting, with everything, saying: mo roses/mo problems. But now I guess I've said it.)
The best problem to have! They're budding and blooming like gangbusters, almost all of my flowers are. Enough to fill all my bottles and jars for days.
I finally feel like I finally have a little foothold as a gardener. It makes the Mays (and Aprils and Junes) so much nicer. For the first few years, I was scrabbling and scrambling just to get a little start, with no understanding of how things grow, gauging shade & sun, finding the plants themselves, tending them. So I've been building them (the garden and my understanding) a bit at a time. It's a lot. But as Josiah always reminds me/reassures me: "You can't figure out everything at once."
Some things have to wait their turn, and even when it comes, it takes a while. Then, days go by and months go by and years go by, and you find yourself with a foothold. A tiny one, but all your own.
3. The best costume for the day 4. Shirley poppy patch (my own tiny fireworks)
5. Tangle of blooms 6. Backyard quilt picnic dinner
I hope everyone in the U.S. had a nice Independence day!
Ours was wonderful and quiet (except for the explosions that send Miette the cat spiraling into a mania I'm convinced is related to his previous life as a WW1 soldier.) I wore this same worn, stripey 30's dress last year, so I think it's my official July 4th dress now. Josiah grilled some really tasty things and we lazed in our backyard, enjoying the flowers and dinner and using our sparklers to pretend we are wizards.
I don't think there's a better way to spend four dollars than a big packet of wildflower seeds, like these I threw out (with a few packets of Shirley Poppy seeds) in March. The simple splendor of these wild, wiry-necked babes! The element of surprise!
I cleared a ramshackle bed for them early in the year (meaning, I ripped out most of the weeds and grass but didn't really do much else) and since my mini-meadow started blooming a few weeks ago, it's a highlight of my afternoons to see what's sprung up that day. At first there was mostly a lot of Five-spot, Sweet William, Dwarf Snapdragon, and other pretty mystery things, but now the poppies are such hams that it's hard to notice anything else.
Some are double, some are less an the size of a dime, some two or three inches across. They make me just crazy. I think I'm going to plant about 10x this many next year - they'll be the perfect thing to fill in the empty spaces left by dearly departed Spring bloomers.
See you soon with the few last flower girl paintings, and I hope your week is off to a nice start!
I wasn't joking you about the flower channel, was I?
I took these instax photos late one evening - maybe around seven or eight. It stays light so long right now, who knows how late it was. I loved how blue the yard was behind my most treasured flowers, these peachy, ruffly Carding Mill roses. It was after a rain, too, so their heads were bobbing down, drowsy and heavy with raindrops.
Thank you for all the kind words about the new paintings. More flower-girls coming soon!
My Instax camera was giving me a lot of bright-light joy in my ranunculus/persian buttercup patch the other day. I plant my new bulbs in Fall, some pull through from the year before, and I look forward to the surprise melange of their blooms like a very long Christmas eve.
I don't suspect I'll be using any of the precious film on any blinding-flash, washed out low light photos for as long as the flower season is here and there are instant photos to be had of them. The amount of beauty you can get out of those little photos with enough light really surprised me. Such nice Springtime subjects certainly help. Most of my Instax photos before were blurry, blown-out snaps of Miette laying on various things (which, of course, have their charm).
There's such a magic in hopping around, snapping away as the camera spits out photographs you can hold in your hand.
- I mail-ordered a new variation of my favorite flowers and planted it last fall without seeing the blooms. The flowers are coming in now and they're the prettiest melange of peach and papaya! I love the way flowers surprise you
- Saints be praised, there are now large Moleskine sketchbooks! Having made do with the medium size for years, it makes me disproportionately happy every time I sit down to this new, sturdy, roomy one.
- I baked up a batch of petite chocolate chip & walnut cookies last night from my go-to all time favorite recipe and they turned out unusually photogenic. The stars were right.
- I'm re-reading Geek Love and finding even more to knock me down dead this time. I think the first time I read it (six years ago?), I was mostly swooning over its terrible, nervy beauty. This time, I'm bowled over by those things, but I'm also struck by the things it has to say about childhood, siblings, universal things that extend beyond the sideshow.
- And I'm hard at work on a new children's book! It's a picture book scheduled for release next year. I might share a sketch peek here soon - I'm living in the sketches right now. I want to crawl inside them all.
Thank you very kindly for your awfully sweet responses to my new book announcement! Your comments were so kind, and it's really nice to have spilled the beans on something that has been so important behind-the-scenes. I poured a lot into the little tales of Oddfellow's, trying to make what is pretty much my ideal place. I hope it feels cozy and welcoming to all of you come January!
To show my gratitude, here is a snap of a jar-full of my #1 favorite roses in my garden...
They're Carding Mill English roses, and they really do a number on me. I love the colors they bloom in (all creamy apricots and coral-pinks), their size (fairly petite) and maybe most of all, the way their paper-y petals often have slightly ragamuffin edges.
Anyway, clearly I'm under some of rose-hypnosis.
Thank you again for your kind words re: the book, and happy weekend to you!!
I feel a bit sheepish about how pokey things have been around here lately. A confluence of things are responsible: changing over computers, finishing my next book, and the Summertime. I think the Summertime might be mostly to blame.
One of my favorite things about this year's garden is the strawberry patch we planted in Spring. We have barely any food out there (it's a very impractical garden.) Just rosemary, because it's my favorite herb.
And also, peeking out from under the sweet white flowers...
Nestled next to the Irish moss...
Perfectly tart, beautifully red and shiny, and cropping up for weeks.
They might be a bit shrimpy and considerably more lumpy than their grocery store counterparts, but they make up for it with their beautiful insides.
Scarcely a white heart in sight, these girls are crimson through and through.
It was the nicest feeling to be able to go outside, gather 5 or 6, and instantly increase the marvelousness of my vanilla yogurt by ten-fold.
Now they're on the wane, but I'm determined to have them again next year. And maybe twice as many plants.
I hope the last bits of Summer are treating you well!
I was all forlorn that our yard is so tree-shadowed, 'til I realized early this Spring that there is one bit of the yard that gets perfectly respectable sunlight. Enough sunlight to make a flower bed and grow things besides the bleeding hearts and ferns to which I had resigned myself.
And so I made one.
These photos are from June, when every flower seemed to be putting on its most extravagant show.
Things have quieted down a bit now, and only my roses are still blooming so profusely. I miss all my drowsy little geums, which have gone mostly quiet.
They were outshone by a last burst of ranunculus blooms and since them, just a bloom here and there.
While there were some really pretty ranunculus flowers this Summer (lots of surprise singles & doubles and lovely colors from mystery bulb planting) the plants that bloomed in early Spring were much happier.
I think, like me, they like a chill in their toes.
Creating a garden has been one of the very best undertakings I've ever begun. Planting and tending living green things, things that ask for very little and in turn, give one such a feeling of accomplishment (and of course, shows of dazzling prettiness) is so comforting and grounding and thrilling.
My mom is an incredible and prolific gardener, and her yard is breathtaking and perfectly kept, without feeling overly fussed-over or too manicured. She's got a truly emerald green thumb. I can only wish for a thumb somewhere in the vicinity of mint or pistachio green.
I have more photos from my little shade garden and also some close-up pictures of all the diminuative little flowers I have, which tend to get lost among scene stealers like roses and poppies.