a walk in my garden

Tropical storm Ida dumped heavy rain for two days earlier this week, but fortunately there were no strong winds here in Helena. The last two days have been clear blue, gilt with the colors of fall. Yesterday I was working inside all day, but today I was able to spend some time outdoors, and this is what I saw:This dogwood tree is splendid with berries.Golden leaves still cling to a Japanese maple on the edge of the front garden.Native nandina are bright with berries.The Japanese maple 'Waterfall' glows in the woodland garden.Leaf litter on the moss path reminds me of confetti.Red dogwood berries are bright against a golden ground cover.This variegated hydrangea is beautiful, even when it is not blooming.So, those are a few of the sights I saw on my walk today. Thanks for taking that walk with me. I hope that wherever you are, you can refresh your spirit by spending time in a garden.


hot peppers, forever in memory

I am blessed to have stayed in the same home for almost twenty five years, for my garden echoes with memories.

Today the sky was was drab and laden with moisture. The temperature was in the sixties, but for the first time this year I felt the glorious days of autumn shriveling up and blowing toward the cold edge of winter. There is a tropical storm south of us, and I expect we will get a lot of wind and rain from it, which will strip the trees of their molten colors and leave them naked.

Even now, there are a few summer plants bravely blooming, and the flowers seemed luminous against the gray atmosphere. The vegetables are all gone, except for the peppers. which will produce madly until frost kills them. I never cared to eat peppers, until I began to grow them in my garden. Like tomatoes, peppers are much tastier when home grown and picked at the peak of ripeness. This year my bell peppers have been huge and blocky, with thick crisp walls.  I planted red, yellow, and orange varieties. All of them taste fine while still green, but I like them best when fully mature. I also planted yellow banana peppers, and they are still producing heavily, also.These banana peppers don't know winter is coming.

I did not plant hot peppers; I do not like hot peppers. But when I look at my sweet peppers, I always remember the year I planted one hot pepper plant for the novelty of it. That one plant (it was a habanero) must have produced a thousand little fiery fruits.

One day, during the summer of the habanero pepper plant, my family attended a picnic in the park sponsored by our church. My youngest son Mark, who was about age thirteen, was with me as I started through the long line to get a hamburger plate. 

"Mom," he said, "Why don't you go find a seat while I get your plate?"

"Why, thanks, Mark. That's a good idea."

My friends looked at me enviously. "What a fine young man," they said. "Not many kids his age are so thoughtful."

I tried not to seem prideful, as I puffed out my chest and congratulated myself on the obviously good job of parenting I had done.

I sat down at one of the long tables set up under the pavilion. Mark brought our plates and eased onto the bench beside me. Again, my friends marveled.

"Why, Mark, you are so sweet," they gushed. "Not only do you get your mom's plate for her, but you even want to sit with her." 

I smiled at my darling son and then bit into my hamburger. Immediately I gagged as my face turned deep red and my tongue ignited. Mark laughed at the smoke pouring from my mouth. While I gulped water to douse the inferno, he grabbed his own plate and headed for the hills, where he joined his buddies and entertained them, no doubt, with exaggerated descriptions of my reaction to the habanero enhanced hamburger.

So, I don't plant hot peppers. But, oh the memories, when I look at the other ones.

Here are a few of the persistent summer blooms I found today. I hope you enjoy them.probably the last 'Endless Summer' hydrangea bloom this year.Knockout roses are great landscape roses.This butterfly bush attracts butterflies and also has a nice smell.This little wildflower is a form of oxalis.