Wednesday, July 02, 2008


At first I took it for the wet roof of a house, but one flash following another showed it to be in swift rolling movement. It was an elusive vision—a moment of bewildering darkness, and then, in a flash like daylight, the red masses of the Orphanage near the crest of the hill, the green tops of the pine trees, and this problematical object came out clear and sharp and bright.

And this Thing I saw! How can I describe it? A monstrous tripod, higher than many houses, striding over the young pine trees, and smashing them aside in its career; a walking engine of glittering metal, striding now across the heather; articulate ropes of steel dangling from it, and the clattering tumult of its passage mingling with the riot of the thunder. A flash, and it came out vividly, heeling over one way with two feet in the air, to vanish and reappear almost instantly as it seemed, with the next flash, a hundred yards nearer.

Well, no. Actually, that's just the water tower here in Harwich, and those words are worshipfully lifted from Chapter 10 of H.G. Wells' sci-fi classic, The War of the Worlds, always good summertime reading. But with July 4th coming this Friday, we on the Cape are dealing with an invasion of another sort.

It's true that ever-rising gas prices have had their impact on the sheer numbers of people visiting Cape Cod, but things are still busier here than a few weeks ago. There's longer lines in stores and more cars on the highway. Wailing sirens fill the air, both day and night.

We haven't lived this far up-Cape before, so it's a little hard to judge just how much the economy has impacted things, but you can see the difference at the restaurant. We've not yet seen those crazy nights where there's a waiting line for hours. Surely that will come soon, though...probably as soon as the weekend.

Still, the other day, as I waited at the end of the on-ramp to the highway while a long line of cars passed by, a red car came dashing up beside me, doing close to 50, slipped around me and inserted itself into the flow of traffic, expertly fitting between two cars there was barely enough room to fit. It seemed carefully choreographed, but it was clear to me: the idiots always find the money to go away on vacation. If only they could leave their fast-paced lives behind them, instead of treating a day at the beach like another business appointment.

Here's some of those lychnis flowers I keep talking about. I've got a few of these plants now and I see plenty in the neighborhood. They are one of those plants that likes to sow itself around with impunity and so once you've got one, you seemingly always have it.

I wanted to show off this pair of toymaker gnomes /elves, who are nestled into a bed of holly along the walk into our backyard. Granny painted and fired these at her ceramics class in Florida not too many years ago, shipping first one and then the other to us. They've stood sentinel in several of our gardens now.

My most sincere thanks to all of you, who have expressed your concern, offered your comforting words, good wishes, thoughts and prayers to us and for Granny. We wouldn't be at all surprised to see her make a good recovery from this--that's just the kind of person she's always shown herself to be--but it's become clear this week that it will be perhaps a bigger challenge than she's faced previously.

Dad's flying down there tomorrow and I have no doubt that the sight of her Number One Son's smiling face and the warmth of his hand in hers will go a long way toward bolstering her spirits.

Here's one of those spectacular shasta daisies, about as tall as the top rail of the fence. Others are even taller. More of them open each day and some of them are showing lots of side shoots, so we should see a nice, long-ish show from them this year.

Also notable here is the fly who's doing some pollinator work on the daisy. Notable because these are the pollinators I'm seeing most in the garden this year. There have been some of those round black and yellow bumblebees, though none I've yet managed to photograph...and honestly, they were mostly brought to the yard by the sweet smell of honeysuckle and took little interest in the rest of the border.

I haven't seen a single honeybee this year.

The zucchini seedlings are now almost all sprouted and doing pretty nicely, completing the trio of plants which comprise the Three Sisters garden. I look forward to watching them trail and ramble around, covering the ground and trying to take over.

A warning to you all: now's the time to arrange to rent a guard dog for your front yard, to fortify the locks on your doors, or boost your virus protection: one way or the other, I suspect I'll be trying to sneak great sacks of the slender green vegetables into your life come August.

Here's that yellow rose, now fully in bloom. I still can't quite fathom that the Victorians designated this flower to represent jealousy (did they forget the whole "green with envy" thing? Or did we come to that notion later, when money became so very important?), although I suppose, if you have it growing so delightfully in your yard, there's a possibility your lesser gardening neighbors could hate you for it.

Em and I saw a hawk (I'm pretty sure it was a hawk, anyway, but considering the speed with which everything was happening, I suppose I ought not rule out an osprey) down at the end of Not Wisteria Lane last night, stirring up trouble with a host of smaller birds, who were all ganging up to drive him away from their homes and young ones. Troubling for all those other birds, but still, hawks are so darned cool to see close up, and this one was not far overhead. Of course, the camera was far behind me, back at the house.

Obviously, I did no posting last evening--jeez, I gotta take a break sometime. I did manage to get a little weeding done and edged the beds in advance of Kelly and Carol's visit later today, but I was also on the phone with Mom and Dad for a while and the day's heat lingered into the evening. It took only a minor camera battery SNAFU to encourage me to check email, surf some blogs and then to YouTube (we can make anything a verb, eh?)for a little while instead, before heading off to bed.

Here's another look at the ever-lovely verbena bonariensis, soaring over the rest of the garden bed. Woo that a pretty color or what?


Butch said...

I love the beginning quote with the picture of your water tower. It fits in perfectly.

The yard Gnomes your Grandma fired are priceless and I'm sure are held in a place of honor. I hope she's better soon. Your father will have more information once he sees her and can assess what the medical staff have to say. Hopefully, the tests will come back non-eventful.

The last picture of verbena bonariensis is strikingly beautiful. It really adds to your garden.

TigerYogiji said...

I knew immediately that you were quoting from WOTW!!!

With Summer here, I think of you now having to deal with those...shudder!...tourists! Good luck!

P.S. I'll continue to keep your grandmother in my thoughts and prayers... :)

Sue said...

I loved this post Greg, the W.O.T.W. quote and all of the fantastic pictures - AWESOME! I visited the botanical gardens near my home yesterday, and posted with you in mind. I wish I was half as knowledgeable as you are about gardening!

By the way, I LOVE your elves/gnomes!

Greg said...

Butch, the elves are among a great variety of things from Granny's ceramics classes which are held in great store!

I'm sure Dad will be able to get us a much clearer picture of her situation once he's arrived in the South.

The verbena B is pretty terrific, isn't it?

Tiger, kudos to you for recognizing Wells right tricking you with radio plays, I'll bet! I couldn't resist poking a little fun in the tourists' direction, as payment for how much more interesting our lives become for two months.

Sue, I can't wait to check out your post from the Botanical gardens--I'll bet you had a great time!

As for the knowledge, all things come in time...and I guess my brain just has an affinity for flower names and trivia! Plus, I'm wrong on a humblingly-regular basis!!

Sue said...

Greg, you are awesome! Thanks for getting back to me. Maybe its safest that I just say, "look at all the pretty colors!" Ha!

Thanks again!

Claire said...

Jenn was right, you do have a wonderful garden and deserve that award :)

The photographs are fantastic.

Marc said...

Love the verbena (of's purple) and that rose is gorgeous. Wow, that daisy is big! I also love the color of the lychnis. You are such a remarkable gardener.

Greg said...

Sue, great slideshow. All the names (or at least the one you like best) will stick with you in can start taking seed catalogs to bed with you to study up!

Hi Claire! Welcome to the garden! Loved your dahlia shot!

Marc, you're confused: it's the plants who are remarkable. I just give them a stage to put on their little shows! Thanks, tho!