High Clover

The hollow is in high clover.

Rabbits come out to graze in the late afternoons, sunlight setting through their satin ears. Zsa-Zsa has put a small dent in the population but without dogs for so many years now, a  colony has established itself in the old forsythia patch by the front walk as well as another clan across the creek.

I’ve only seen one inside the vegetable garden and the damage – so far – is so minimal I assume it’s only the one that makes its way through the make-shift rabbit wire along the base of the deer fence. It’s nibbled a bit of zinnia foliage that’s since grown back and lopped off the flowers from  a patch of larkspur growing at the edge of the gravel path and the raised bed, but nothing further than I can see except an initial tasting of nasturtium. Asparagus, tomatoes, peas and arugula, parsley, cilantro are untouched.

So far these have served as decoy plants to divert from the major zinnia rows and the line of larkspur I sowed along the base of the peas which are doing extremely well this season. Time will tell. Perhaps it’s working it’s way methodically through the garden.

Many homeowners and institutions still routinely kill clover in lawns (I won’t even get into dandelions!). I am appalled that the the deluded and toxic image of a perfect green chemlawn persists in peoples’ minds. Let’s all acquaint ourselves with the concept of “greenwashing” and the people and institutions who profit from it. Routine use of herbicide is a big money-maker. It’s actually a staple of many “restoration” projects.

Closer to home, in a landscape I do my best to steward faithfully, a quick clean-up does wonders. Dead-heading the peonies lets the handsome foliage of the classic ‘Festiva Maxima’ shine with the look of an evergreen hedge. ‘Sarah Bernhardt’, ‘Gardenia’ and ‘Shirley Temple’ followed, giving us nice mid-season bouquets. When the stalks turn tatty at the end of summer, cut to the ground and mulch with compost and other organics, always limiting depth to no more than an inch or so to allow spring buds to poke up.

Regale lilies and phlox follow the peonies.

Dead-heading the climbing rose ‘Sombrouille’, and shrubs ‘Don Juan’ and ‘Penny Lane’ is a pleasant task (I always think of Vita Sackville-West with her secateurs) and keeps them healthy and blooming. Cut to an outside leaflet of five. All I ever learned about roses was from Steven Scanniello (Climbing Roses, Anyone Can Grow Roses) during a magical season at Albemarle House in the old days.

The little dogwood at the end of the meadow has set fruit for the fall. It saw me through the pandemic winter into spring with a lovely veil of white and lures me into autumn with ripeness.

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