Monday, May 01, 2006

Wellfleet Gardens

There must have been a lot of Wellfleetians gardening this weekend. Yesterday everyone rushed out to Route 6 to take advantage of close-out pricing. “How very sad Consider the Lilies is closing,” I exclaimed to Sharon Lindsey, who also had opted not to wait in the long line at the counter. “Very sad!” she agreed. Her boys run a landscaping business and will spend more time on the road now, to her great regret. I did not purchase anything, which is quite unusual for me. Generally, I cannot leave a garden center without adopting one or two plants.

Since a brisk wind was blowing off the ocean, Sven & I took our daily walk through the village.
The sea air smelled of cedar mulch. All the daffodils and tulips were swaying in the breeze. One of the more striking flowering trees grows in the yard at the Customs House Gallery on Commercial Street. Many of the houses wore fresh coats of paint that made them sparkle in the sun. A few are in serious need of maintenance. The Gingerbread House, for instance. Everyone who loves Wellfleet will recognize this building on Holbrook Avenue. Let's hope the owners soon notice the winter damage. The Gingerbread House has almost become a Wellfleet landmark. It certainly deserves repair.

Next we stopped at the Stone Lion Inn to say hello. Sven had met Adam, the owner, a few weeks back when they both spent a couple hours in the pouring rain, helping out with Amnesty Day at the Transfer Station. Adam, too, was mulching. A good day for garden work!

Back home, I got out my shovels and trowels. I had just sat down on the bench next to the front door with Richter’s Herb Catalogue, when our guests emerged from Seagull Cottage to say good-bye after a birthday-present weekend. (What a great way to say "I Love You"!) There was a storm at sea, and they commented on the ocean’s roar, a sound like a freight train, unfamiliar to their ears. After their departure, it was back to work. I weeded and dug in anticipation of tomorrow’s rain, all the while reviewing in my head which plants need replacement. Initially I had planted purple coneflowers, white phlox, and gayfeather to attract butterflies. Not the right choice! The rabbits had a feast. They must have been dancing with joy, that’s how trampled the foliage was in the morning.

My little cottage garden replaced a porch, which Sven & I sledgehammered down five years ago. I remember how the chickadees watched with apprehension as we removed an overgrown evergreen whose wide branches had long served as a ladder for fledglings. They would land nearby and cock their heads as if to say, "What are these crazy humans up to?"

The earth had not seen the sun for eighty years and was harder than concrete. A jackhammer would have worked better than my shovel. Fitful thrusts turned over no more than an inch of sandy soil, so that first year we built raised beds. I dug deep holes and filled them with manure. In the holes I planted tomato plants, a rather unconventional use of a front yard. In my mind, its future landscape was flashing by. There would be a white picket fence and hollyhocks, beside a gate. A cobbled walk up the center, with wave petunias cascading onto the brick. …

Sven used the old bricks from the foundation to make the paths. We don’t have the fence yet, nor the hollyhocks. What I did plant in quantity are peonies and lavender. I love the way the peonies look when they first poke their heads through the ground and survey the rest of the garden, sentinel-like. Today the dry earth crumbled between my fingers as I worked around the flowerbeds. The condition of the soil was perfect for the removal of weeds. I got very excited at this: a baby lupine self-seeded, dear friends, but too close to a rose bush for comfort. I will have to move it after the rain comes. I spent the whole day outside and not one tick did I see …