Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Round House

I have read most of Louise Erdrich's early books, including The Beet Queen,  Love Medicine, and Tracks, but haven't read her for awhile. This latest book of hers has gotten a lot of good reviews in the press and I have heard good buzz about it in the library, so my book group picked it for our discussion last week. Erdrich writes about the Native American population in her books (her mother was a Chippewa), and this book begins with the violent assault and rape of a Native American woman, Geraldine, in a sacred round house on the Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota. The pleasant life she had with her husband (a tribal judge) and 13-year-old son Joe has just come to a brutal end. Unable to recover from the attack, Geraldine lies in bed for weeks under the cloud of a deep depression, and literally cannot move, let alone go on with her life. Because of the complexities of the Native American justice system,  the person they all believe to be the rapist cannot be tried. So Joe believes it is up to him to seek justice for his mother and to reclaim his family's life. The book is very well written; Erdrich can really tell a good story. There are a whole host of interesting characters and separate story lines, in fact in discussing the book we all felt it could almost have been a book of short stories.  Joe's best friend Cappy, a colorful priest and Iraqi war vet, Joe's beloved grandfather Mooshum, a white woman who is abandoned at birth by her parents and raised on the Ojibwe reservation--all have stories to tell within the main plot, and add depth to the novel. The book made for a good discussion of the Native American culture and its problems, as well as the issue of justice, and we all enjoyed reading it, although most of us did not like the ending.

Monday, April 29, 2013

April Greens

Bleeding Heart 

 It's no secret that green is my favorite color, and I take lots of pictures in the garden of all the different shades of green, and this month I wanted to document the spring greens. It's such a dramatic change in the spring when everything starts to change color. All that gray and brown from the winter gradually disappears, and it's just so miraculous to me every year as the color comes back into the landscape. The grass gets greener, the trees take on color, and of course all the plants. There's something special about spring greens and it makes me remember that my favorite color in the Crayola box was always Spring Green!


Creeping Jenny and succulents

Akebia vine

Tree Peony

Front perennial garden mid-April


Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow'
Euphorbia 'Chameleon'
Wild Ginger (Asarum)
Tree Peony foliage
Japanese Maple

Friday, April 26, 2013

Friday Fleurs: Bleeding Hearts

Dicentra 'Spectabilis'

I think bleeding hearts are the quintessential spring flowers. They rise up from nowhere and within a week or so are these spectacular, vibrant-colored plants.  They don't last very long, so you have to enjoy and appreciate them when you can. Their stems are very fragile and easy to break, in fact I broke a few while taking these pictures! I have several plants, and a couple of different varieties. One of my favorites is Dicentra 'Gold Heart,' which has chartreuse foliage. Bleeding hearts die back soon after they bloom, so it is good to plant them near something that will take over as the bleeding heart foliage dies back. I plant mine near hostas and anemones.  Right now I can barely see the hostas, but they will take over by June.

Bleeding heart, hosta, forget-me-nots

Dicentra 'Alba'

Bleeding heart and grape hyacinths

Dicentra 'Gold Heart'

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Spring at Meadowlark

This past weekend Walt and I went to Meadowlark to check out the spring blooms, stopping first for some sandwiches at our favorite bakery,  and had our first picnic of the season underneath the glorious crabapple trees (above).  The winding path of pink and white crabapples at Meadowlark is really spectacular when they are in bloom. The gardens are beautiful at this time of year--the daffodils were just past their peak, the tulips were in their prime, and there were lots of wildflowers in bloom. Azaleas were just beginning.  Hostas and ferns were unfurling in the Hosta Walk, along with some pretty awesome Jack-in-the-Pulpits.  In another few weeks the peonies should be in bloom as they were all in bud. I don't think I have ever seen the peonies at Meadowlark when they are blooming--I am always too busy in my own garden at that time I guess. They have quite a collection of herbaceous peonies and tree peonies, so I am going to have to make more of an effort this year to get there this year.



Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Lilac Time

May Night, by Sara Teasdale

The spring is fresh and fearless
And every leaf is new,
The world is brimmed with moonlight,
The lilac brimmed with dew.

Here in the moving shadows
I catch my breath and sing--
My heart is fresh and fearless
And over-brimmed with spring.

I wait all year long to pick armfuls of lilacs to cut and bring in the house.  I can't walk past them without stopping to their blooms.  Mmmm.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Welcoming Spring in Leesburg

Yesterday was a gorgeous day, sunny but cool, a perfect day for one of my favorite spring traditions, the Leesburg Flower Festival. Usually Gillian and I go together,  but she was out of town this weekend so I was on my own this year (not nearly as much fun!). This is a two day festival to spring, with the main streets in downtown Leesburg closed off and set up with flower and garden vendors, and landscape companies who set up whole gardens for display. This year they even built a chicken coop and a very cute garden shed (what I wouldn't give for a cute garden shed...).  I have found plenty of garden treasures there over the years, birdhouses, garden art, plants, tools, and lots of garden inspiration.

Salad greens and herbs

Some of my favorite things this year were these old vintage trucks planted with succulents. Each one was better than the next!  Aren't they great? I may have to dig out some old Tonka trucks from my basement...