Sunday, August 23, 2009

A little Belgian garden

We're visiting my sister in Brussels, Belgium, actually in the adjacent town of Kraainem (suburb, I suppose, except it's nothing like what we think of as a suburb in the Twin Cities). It's kind of near the airport and the beltway, although neither of these seems to impose on this idyllic place, really -- not to us, anyway, as accustomed as we are to living near the airport and the crosstown freeway ourselves. In fact, we were sitting in her little courtyard garden this evening, and at one point I did have to pause while an airplane few over, and we kind of had to laugh: "Feels just like home!" I said.

But this little courtyard garden (and the cobblestone street on the other side of it) is very unlike our grassy backyard: it is all pavement like a patio, and one wall is covered in the kind of ivy we grow as a houseplant back home, while another has a wisteria vine clambering over it. It's very sunny in the morning and early afternoon, but cool and shady later in the day. The little stone statuary on the ivy wall is a nonfunctioning fountain (Penny says it leaks), which looks charming enough without water. It would look fabulous as a planter, though. Maybe I'll suggest it. Her housekeeper apparently takes care of the garden, insomuch as she trims the wisteria so it doesn't cover her doorway! So maybe her housekeeper would like the idea of planting the basin.

I, on the other hand, will try to resist the temptation to do this for her while we are here! (I wouldn't know where to get the dirt or the plants, anyway.) I am certain I can be quite content just enjoying the little courtyard when we are relaxing after a day of exploring.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Friendly bouquet

Yesterday I stopped over at my friend Judy Anderson's house to look over her pottery, which she had on display in her front yard in an art-in-the-garden sale. I enjoyed touring her garden as much as looking at all the beautiful pottery. You can see some of it for yourself at her Web site, Dragonfly Guild.

Craig selected a mug for his morning chai -- when we were up at the cabin a couple of weeks ago, he had complained that none of the mugs in the cupboard were quite right for his tea (they were all a little on the small side, I guess), so I had suggested we buy him a handmade mug to keep up there. We looked a little when we were in Bemidji, which is quite an arty town, but he didn't see anything that struck his fancy. (And we didn't get to the gallery that our friend had recommended because it was surrounded by torn-up streets. What was it called, Terry? Wild Cat, or something like that. I want to visit that one next time we go up north.)

So when Judy announced her sale, I said, let's go. Craig didn't have much trouble selecting a mug, but I had a time looking over all the beautiful vases. I settled on this one for it's medium size, and I thought the black glaze would set off a bouquet of colorful flowers nicely -- although then I went and put all-white hudrangeas in it!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Bird gardeners

Earlier this summer, I had reserved a spot in my garden for pole beans, and was waiting to plant them until I found some suitable poles. In the meantime, I saw sparrows pecking around in the bare soil, and I figured they were finding bugs or weed seeds or something to eat. Then, about a week or two later, sunflowers started sprouting in the garden! There are plenty of sunflower seeds in our bird feeder, and there are sunflowers sprouting under the feeder, which is usual, and not surprising, but I didn't expect the birds to actually carry the seeds the 15 feet or so to the garden and plant them there!

I thought about planting the beans anyway and letting them climb up the sunflower stems, but bean vines can get pretty heavy and I didn't want to topple the sunflowers, so I just resigned myself to growing sunflowers in this part of the garden instead. Beans are cheap at the farmers' market this time of year anyway, and the sunflowers are such a delight in the middle of the garden.

This is the first one to open, and as you can see, a fat bumblebee is enjoying the fruits (or pollen, more like) of the birds' efforts! And, of course, the bumblebee is returning the favor, since her foraging will pollinate the flowers and allow them to make seeds for the birds. I'm happy to just be the spectator to it all!