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Spring at the end of May

The seasons have mixed up this year, though generally rather agreeably: the peak of the warm climate roses' flowering came in March, in an early, dry spring; the once-bloomers are in their splendor now, following two months of pretty constant rain.

The grass has been remarkable, good for carbon sequestration, bad for much else; note the Italian proverb: "Anno di erba, anno di m...da." The farmers can't cut the grass for their livestock: it never stays dry long enough. Fruit isn't ripening. The rain may finally be tailing off, but it has kept temperatures down and the garden watered, and surely has at least partially replenished the essential groundwater supply. I'm still sleeping under my feather comforter, but not for much longer, I think.

After three years or so of drought, I'm still glad for more water, though it gets in the way of gardening.

The roadsides are thick with grass, wild peas, bedstraws, orchids, anthemis, poppies, dock, hawkweed, and a thousand other plants. Wild roses are flowering, mounds of pale dog roses, rich pink and white wild gallicas clinging close to the ground, and the field rose, R. arvensis, trailing its white single blooms.

DH has been mowing, and his work has brought some order to the garden, which was dangerously close to chaos: even I couldn't always tell where the beds ended and the walks began. Now it all makes much more sense, is easier to move around in and soothing to the eye and mind. DH is eighty-nine now; what are we going to do when he gets too old to manhandle the motor scythe on the steep slopes? That's a problem for later. I follow after DH, cut grass and pull weeds under the roses, trim back the hedges that back the rose beds, with a narrow path between. Here and there the hedges are beginning to form the green wall that I had in mind when I planted them. My fiddling around allows me to observe and make discoveries. For example, lots of water is good for roses. Wow, what an insight! What I see this year, though, is not that the roses are blooming better--they flowered fine last year and the year before, and with less foliage disease--but this year they're MAKING NEW GROWTH. 'Sydonie', for example, has never put up new canes, but it has this year, emerging from the ground (and they're not rootstock, either). Other roses with substantial but aging canes are doing similar. This will make it easier to cut out old growth after the flowering season, now that there's something to replace them.

The once-flowering old roses, the Europeans, are a singular joy. I can't better my younger sister's description, written in a letter after she and our other sister came to visit us this month: "I enjoyed sticking my nose into a variety of lovely petalled cushions of color". One surprise was a rose with few (no?) prickles, lax stems, and pointed smooth leaves, which opened pompoms of duskiest purple with white bases: grubbing around at its base to find the label revealed that it was 'L'Eveque', 'The Bishop'. I believe there are a number of clones bearing this name. This one, from Tuincentrum Lottum, was impressive: I hope it thrives.

Sis also noted that my work in the garden looked like trying to empty the ocean with a thimble, and I'm afraid that's so. I just work as much as I can, and hope for the best. If we do get some sun, perhaps the figs and cherries will finally ripen. It's about time.

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