The weather has become warm and humid after the first few days of may. There is lot of work to be done and already mid-day is too uncomfortable to do much. The rain seems to fall all around but not here so I am watering at least daily. Yet early each morning when I go out to make my rounds the grass and plants are soaked with dew. This is apparently sufficient to cause both the lawn and the weeds to grown at an alarming rate, whereas my cherished plants are growing more slowly . The exceptions are my rue, my comfrey and my mole plants. The mole plants defied both the very cold winter and the garden books description of them as an annual and have not only survived but are flourishing. The catnip by the porch has re-seeded itself, thankfully, the neighborhood cats having rolled on the original until it gave up.
I have only had one visitor to it this spring and this saddens me. People here let their cats roam. It is a busy town with lots of traffic and little green space. Of the dozen or so cats I have observed over the last couple of years, only the one my neighbor calls Whitefoot has shown himself this year. Before this week’s trash pickup I saw a litter box beside the can of the neighbor behind me. They had a big, beautiful, long-haired black cat who loved laying in the grass under their big tree. I can only assume from the discarded litter box he or she is gone. It really isn’t safe for cats to roam in the United States. The traffic is dangerous, the yards are inundated with chemicals and not everyone is tolerant of animals. My cats are entirely indoor and both healthy and content. They have multiple scratching posts and every window had a perch or cat seat. I feed the birds from feeders and they seem to enjoy watching and never try to bat or push at the screen. No wildlife is harmed by my cats. They also like to watch me from the windows as I work outside. Occasionally I will here a voice calling me to come in for play or cuddle time.
As I was weeding the other day I noticed other plants that attract visitors are now in bloom. There was a patch of wild strawberries at the side of the yard and I planted domestic ones in the middle of it. I am far from being Luther Burbank, but my experiment was a success, they cross-pollinated. The wild strawberries are back bigger and with more vigorous blossoming. It’s time to get the screening out because there are still too few of either variety to let the birds or squirrels get into them.
There is one group of visitors to my garden that always get a free lunch. I always make sure there is something blooming for the bees. Bees have been under stress for years. There is still a lot of on-going debate about colony collapse disorder. Nothing gets put on my yard and garden but water and my own compost. I would love to be able to filter the water and ensure everything I put in the compost is chemical free but that would be an undertaking that is beyond me just now. At least I am not deliberately poisoning things. I try to buy organic plants and seeds and most of the compost is leaves, lawn cuttings and food waste from my kitchen. The plantains and variety of other weeds in the lawn tell me the there is both ecological diversity and depleted soil so I think prior tenants did not put money into chemicals for the lawn, which is reassuring. The bees are my partners in growing my garden, hard working pollinators I cannot do without.
How does my garden grow? It grows with hard work by myself and the bees and butterflies, too. Each year I have been blessed by the visitations of preying mantises, who thoughtfully lay their egg cases in my rue, ensuring I will see more of these fascinating insects in future. I am finding lots of earthworms when I weed and plant, always a sign of garden health, as it means that there are nutrients to support them and that they are aerating the soil for me as they go about their business. My garden grows without chemicals that would hurt all my helpers and as much in harmony with nature as I can achieve in a cultivated landscape. So birds and squirrels visit as well as beneficial insects, and I receive the blessing of the joy and entertainment they provide, as well as the benefit of fresh food and herbs, beautiful flowers, and the opportunity for plenty of exercise without a paid membership.