Oddballs and Mishaps Around “The Urban Porch ™”

So what’s happening on and around The Urban Porch ™ this week? Some lovely rain, prompting the grass to suddenly get so crazy high that I actually mowed for a second time. That might be an April mowing record. Inspired by that tidy little patch thus created, I gravitated on to some weeding. For some reason, this year there is suddenly a plentitude of wild onions popping up all over the lawn and garden beds. Unfortunately, most of them are growing close to the sidewalk in the area I call “dog pee alley”, so they won’t be finding themselves in any meals.

Other mid-week discoveries include The Arrival of the Oddball Tulip. I have never planted tulips at this house, but many, many years ago – I am guessing perhaps many decades ago – some previous owner(s) did. Perhaps once upon a time there was a proliferation of tulips decorating the property, but they must have gone by the wayside in another era. Yet every year, randomly, one or two will pop up someplace in the yard. I’m not a fan.

clown intruder

One silly tulip standing all alone feels incongruous to everything else and lends a slightly annoying balance to what my brain wants to see. In the past I have attempted to lift those bulbs out, but no matter how deeply I dig, I am never quite able to reach the source. At this point, I’ve decided to just appreciate the random weirdos. One clown-like, two-toned tulip (which is not my favorite) appeared in a border to the right of the house this week. An all-red one emerged on the left side amidst the irises and feels a little less intrusive, perhaps because it’s tucked between other plants and not right up in your face. I can’t explain my reaction to them. I suppose a way around it would be to just plant a cluster of other tulip bulbs as an accompaniment, which would make a more pleasing statement all around. Except I don’t really want to plant tulips, nor allow these randos to dictate what I want to plant. Okay, perhaps you can surmise I have a strange relationship with my garden plants here.

one oddball to the left of the house

While getting into the meditation of weeding, brushing against new growth and getting a sudden waft of perfume is intoxicating. Within the shady areas, Lily-of-the Valley is rising and many have begun to flower; Muguet as the gateway into the month of May.

Plants in the shady areas around the house are starting to make a show. There is one rather pathetic Azalea which, over the years, has found itself overshadowed and overtaken by a Rose of Sharon. It really deserves to be moved someplace where it can stand and flourish on its own in the sun. Perhaps at some point I will try to move it. In the meantime, it has made a few tiny buds. The Azaleas elsewhere throughout the neighborhood are looking spectacular, so I am feeling a bit ashamed of my poor planning.

the Azalea is limited

Emerging from the shadows, the Solomon’s Seal also has buds tucked beneath its lovely leaves. One or two plants that a friend shared years ago have spread into a pleasing corner display. I look forward to their clean lines and elegant simplicity.

And the lone Trillium – another individual oddball that never quite blooms all the way, has reached its maximum. I think this is as far as it will ever open, which is actually further than in previous years.

There is a Japanese Maple behind the house which creates a heavily shaded area over a triangular shaped section of earth. In the past I have filled it with different combinations of perennials. Some last for a while and then die out, while others have vanished, only to suddenly come up again another year. For at least one growing season it was looking absolutely gorgeous, at one time filled with Columbine, Astilbe and Foxglove….. until it was neglected (by me, yes) and became overrun with Vinca. I’ve lost most of my energy for that bed of what has – at this point – reverted back to a pathetic patch of dirt, and have allowed the reliable Hostas and Ferns to take up the slack. Never such a big fan of Hostas, I’ve very much come to appreciate what their textures and hues lend to the shady spots.

arrival of the Hostas

A variety of ferns also contribute presence in the spaces, their violin-shaped heads rising and uncurling.


In years past I’ve made a few gardening mistakes and mishaps around this house. One of those was Vinca, that was given to me to plant around the base of the Japanese Maple, with the intention of the lovely periwinkle flowers lending a nice pop of color near the roots. But then it began to run rampant, taking over everything I planted beyond it, sending runners that made it difficult to remove and eradication an ongoing chore.

The same thing happened with pachysandra, another gift from a friend, meant for covering those dark corners where nothing else was growing. It has quickly spread. Luckily, that one is a bit easier to contain.

And then, there are the Jerusalem Artichokes, yet one more gardener share. After planting them along the driveway next to the house, with the intention of making a variety of Sunchoke recipes, I was duly informed by the S.O. that no way would we be eating anything growing at the base of these old houses, which long ago were covered with lead-based paint, which has most likely leached into the soil. So they are just growing there doing their own thing.

Over the years the blacktop driveway had eventually deteriorated into a minefield of broken pavement and so much grass pushing through that you actually had to mow parts of it in some places. Finally, the driveway came up at bat for repair. A contractor dug it out and scraped it down to its Victorian origins, beneath which were random bricks sticking up out of the ground at frost-heaved angles. While it might have been attractive to leave the original bricks, their haphazard arrangement made having a snowplow come through in winter not a doable option. So gravel was laid down and it was repaved with hot mix and rolled out. It’s been looking pretty good….except while I was out there weeding the other day, I discovered (with mild dismay) that an alien plant actually has burst a hole through the pavement.

what is this alien?

While I’m not totally sure what it might be, due to the proximity, a Jerusalem Artichoke is suspect. This might not bode well, and if so, it is certainly not going to go over well with the S.O., who is often dubious about my gardening adventures and has chastised me about a few past ones – The Catalpa tree, the Scotch Broom, etc. (“Those roots are going to break the foundation”). Just in case, I pulled up a few of the “decorative” remainders that are still growing next to the house and driveway.

Stay tuned for further adventures….


This entry was posted in Daeja's Garden, Gardening, nature, Regrets, Spring, The Urban Porch, The Urban Porch ™, Weird and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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