Mom of 3000…

Mother’s Day is tomorrow. I honestly don’t pay too much attention to Hallmark holidays. This time last year we were in Japan. My daughter bought me flowers last night, and a small piece of my favorite cake, Tiramisu. That’s a holdover from my late husband, something we both loved… And she made these tiny arrangements out of a Lego knock-off that are lovely and will sit in my window in the kitchen. My son is half way across the world doing military duty. I wish he were home.

This has been a crazy few weeks. I wanted it that way. With my son away, and drama all around me, I wanted big projects to stay as busy as I can to focus on that which I cannot change.

Everything came together in the last week. Last Sunday my music group, Montclair Early Music had their spring concert. Called Myth and Magic, it celebrated the Renaissance, and fantasy, video games, and Harry Potter. I borrowed a dress that was more fantasy than Renaissance. So I can now cross that off my list of things to focus on.

I finished the cat appliqué quilt block number 4, and this one was really really hard. All that feathery cat fur was very challenging to appliqué.

I’m working on block 5, my goal is one a month and finish by the end of the year when I can give it to my mom. It was her project, quilt block of the month from Maggie Walker, purchased in the late 90’s. She asked me to make it for her since she is in her 90’s and her eyesight and arthritic fingers make it too difficult for her to work on. I found the endless stitching to be centering, soothing, and really really good for my mental health.

This past Thursday night, my retrospective at County College of Morris, in Morris County, NJ reopened. Though the magic of the first opening will never be matched, a number of my guild members came and we had the most lovely time, chatting, talking about weaving, and we met a new fellow weaver wearing an awesome handwoven scarf, which we were all over, and convinced him to join the guild. Which he did. Our numbers are growing…

Monday I give the keynote address to the Morris County Teen Arts Festival, and then that will be behind me. The exhibit will be open through the summer, now through August 22. Hours are M-F 9-6. There is hope that there will be Saturday hours, but a lot of people have to agree, including security, and they aren’t always on the same page.

Meanwhile, this week, my landscape designer, who has been here for more than a month, finished planting more than 3000 perennials, with a couple dozen bushes and trees, almost all native, and designed to attract pollinators, and bloom from early spring into late fall. I have so much to learn. But I’m starting with something.

My job is to keep everything alive for the next few weeks until root systems are established. A couple hours of watering a day will be required. I knew what I was getting into, but what I didn’t know, was how magical early mornings are, with robins, and butterflies, and bugs, and nature all doing its thing. I’ve never spent so much time outside. There is a robin that comes and finds me every morning. And a pair of cardinals that lurks nearby. And there is a painted lady butterfly that is checking out all the new plants. I’m learning each type of plant the designer put in. We went around today and labeled things so I’d be able to learn to recognize plants from their earliest spring sprouts through blooming, and dying back in the fall. The ponds continue to be a challenge, but they are full of happy fish.

The designer laid two palettes of gorgeous bluestone. Some of it is surrounded by grass, but the rest will eventually be buried in beds of phlox and violets. All those little plugs will fill in and there won’t be visible dirt to weed.

I’ve had well meaning friends wonder why I don’t just invest in sprinklers. Not only is that an indiscriminate waste of water, but what I water and how much depends on each plant and its location. And if it rained recently and how much. This is sort of like having a new baby, scant directions, developing new instincts, flying by the seat of your pants, because you have little idea of what you are doing. But I’m trying, and hoping to keep my 3000+ charges alive. And make sure the southern Magnolias and American Holly don’t get root rot.

And I’ve been clearing a decent size bed, between my property and the edge of the backyard next door, of bags full of Creeping Charlie. And other invasive nasties. I’m thinking this is where I want to put my dye garden. I just have to look up what to plant. I’m going shopping next week! In search of dye plants… And maybe start a watercolor gardening journal, there are some really beautiful things in my yard…

I’m doing what I love, learning something new. Discovering a new magical world. And I am willing to work hard to keep it all alive. We didn’t kill all the invasives, there are still a lot on my property. Mostly what’s left serves a purpose, privacy, screening, shade, beautiful fall color. Bit by bit, as the newly planted trees and bushes grow, I’ll be taking a lot more out. And I’m finding things I didn’t know I had, violets, fleabane, and some other cool things the landscape designer identified, but I’ve already forgotten. And yes, that is an Alaskan Weeping Cedar, and no it is not native to NJ, but as my landscape designer said, it is a really cool tree…

So Happy Mother’s Day to my mom, and everyone out there who cares for something, whether it be a child, a dog, a cat, goldfish in a pond, or a tree. There is something healing about caring for something outside yourself. It takes a village, it takes a planet.

Stay tuned…

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Charlotte Switzer
Charlotte Switzer
May 12, 2024 6:29 am

Daryl, I enjoy your blog so much! So many feelings, happy and a little sad sometimes. Your yard is such a new challenge and as you said, will draw you outdoors more and you can visit with all the creatures and plants. Your concert sounded like something I would have really enjoyed!

Nancy Weber
Nancy Weber
May 12, 2024 11:38 am

Happy Mother’s Day to you, too. Your new garden looks awesome and it will be a continuing challenge for you to remember all the names of the plants and to keep them growing until they are settled in their new environment. Happy watering!

May 13, 2024 3:06 am

Happy mother’s day, Daryl. Keen to see pics of your dye garden when it’s done and to know what you planted! Love your blog and regularly read updates each time.

Meg Wilson
May 13, 2024 3:43 pm

Looking so good! We are redoing our front yard since a change in sun after a hard freeze means ivy doesn’t work well out front but plumbago leadwort does — a ground covering screaming blue flowered plant. Love it. Out back I am going from shade heaven to sun city! 75 yr old tall bushes died and there is full TEXAS sun! I am fighting invasive vines — used to be one, now it is 4+. But by next summer, it will all be a stunning mix of perennials and annual color. Right now I am reveling in Rose of… Read more »

Candiss Cole-Footitt
May 16, 2024 5:03 am

So wonderful to see how your outside home develops. It’s a labor of love.

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