Glimpses of Our Late May Garden

ChivesSpring 2016 in the Shenandoah Valley has been especially challenging for farmers and gardeners. Crazy warmth in March lured plants out to be zapped by inevitable frosts and May has been the coldest, wettest I can recall until these past few days. We swung from having the furnace on in this old farm-house to sweltering heat. Not easy on people or plants. Still, there is much beauty in the garden, captured by daughter Elise.

“A garden is always a series of losses set against a few triumphs, like life itself.” ~May Sarton

Chives and (Chives and poppies)

We mix herbs with flowers and vegetables. A wonderful meld. Wildflowers are also a favorite in the garden, like wild aster and Queen Anne’s Lace, plus, plus. Some were planted by birds and the wind, others from seed or stock we purchased. There are those who might refer to these as ‘weeds.’

Poppies 2(California Poppies)

Of course, we have the garden cat, also called the Apothecary Cat or Apothecarist. I decided our garden is a physic or apothecary garden because it has many medicinal plants, which includes some of the so-called ‘weeds’, thus justifying its less than perfect state (according to suburbia, anyway, which, thank God, we don’t live in). Elise suggested kitty be called the Apothecarist (one who dispenses medicines and herbal cures). Kitty doesn’t do that, but it’s a great name. Before this, he was known as one of the triplets.

Garden cat

Apothecarist Cat

The Apothecarist Cat

This spring we’re making pathways with cardboard boxes covered in straw, using my Amazon box collection. I save those boxes religiously. The straw we gleaned from the barn. Pathways are a work in progress. Below is a pic of me against a patch of sweet alyssum we’ve planted in drifts in many sections of the garden. It’s just beginning to bloom. We are using alyssum as a ground cover and to attract beneficial insects and honey bees.

The gardener at work

It is utterly forbidden to be half-hearted about gardening. You have got to love your garden whether you like it or not. ~W.C. Sellar & R.J. Yeatman, Garden Rubbish, 1936

My box/straw pathway, next to the potato patch. The sticks mark the many little herbs and flowers we’ve added to keep them from getting stepped on. How glorious it will be when this is all lush and blooming. I’m smashing potato bugs.

Laying a path in garden

Salad Garden(Salad Patch)

Peony by Elise(This Peony has been here forever, since my Mother-in-law’s time and possibly farther back than that. The house was built in the 1870’s.)


In the kitchen window, I have several pots of cyclamen. These remind me of my late sister-in-law, Catarina. A cyclamen was the last plant she ever gave me. She loved flowers. I grow cyclamens in remembrance of her, and I often think of her. I ordered this pink one last year from Jackson & Perkins to commemorate her passing. The next month, J&P sent me a second identical plant. So I have two thriving cyclamens. Thank you whoever sent this. I inquired, but no one at the company seemed to know why it came at no charge. Maybe Catarina didn’t trust me to keep the first one alive. Admittedly, the cyclamen she gave me didn’t make it, but this is the same color, and I’ve learned more about their care now.

One of life’s mysteries. The garden is full of surprises.

Some roses didn’t survive the plummeting temps this winter, but Abraham Darby did. My favorite rose.


***All images by Elise Trissel.

17 responses to “Glimpses of Our Late May Garden

  1. What a neat recycling idea with the amazon box walkway base, Beth! I might have to put that on my list of things to try. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks Juli! They blow away unless you weight them down as we have with stones and wood, where we ran out of hay. 🙂 You could also use grass clippings over them.


  3. Oh, be sure to rip the tape off the boxes before laying them in the garden.


  4. Jackie Wisherd

    Beautiful flowers and I love the photos of your cat.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So beautiful. Love your photos.
    Sue B

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Beth, once again I loved your post and photos. I’m shocked to learn you ever lost a houseplant, though. Please include more photos of your garden as the summer progresses. You spread joy.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I liked the adage about loving gardening whether you like it or not! I’m busy getting out garden structure in place. Haven’t reached the vegetable garden, yet.


    • Yes, that’s a great adage because there are times that we don’t like it, but deep down the love is there. We’re running behind here. Weather has been challenging.


  8. julielrobinson

    Beautiful! I havne’t gotten out in my garden in a few years because my hands hurt a lot. Seeing all this, though, makes me want to get back out! I do miss it.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I just treated myself to a copy of your Plants for a Medieval Herb Garden – technically, it was for research, but when it arrived, it was so gorgeous that it will be amongst my prized possessions. I feel the richer for possessing it.

    Liked by 1 person

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