Monday, June 8, 2009


I have friends who live in places where peonies don't grow who talk of having peony envy. I am grateful that I don't have to have peony envy, as I have 1 peony in each garden, both inherited.

I am also grateful that we didn't have an early June heatwave this year. Last year at exactly this time, we had a blast of heat that I didn't like and the plants didn't like either. The pink peony went from unopen to too open practically overnight, and the peas wilted in the heat and gave up the ghost. So I am definitely grateful for this year's more temperate weather. It is very dry at the moment, but we're supposed to have showers off and on all week, so that should help.

I love both peonies, the pink for its cheer, the white for its subtlety and elegance. I am always torn about cutting them--the buds are so lovely on the plants that I don't want to take them away, but they come and go so quickly. They really are ephemeral.

Meanwhile, I was delighted to see my first peapods today. I saw blossoms but no pods on Saturday, but today--definitely pods.

I planted two different kinds of shell peas (one on either side of the pea fence). I used to grow a mix of shell peas and snap peas, but it became clear to me that I'm much fonder of the shell peas (even with the shelling), and they're such a brief treat that I might as well have more of the kind I like more. I should point out that there aren't any peas in the pods yet, but I hope there will be in a few days. (Two colleagues at work have peas already--one had eaten 4 peas the day before, and the other had eaten 12. (It's the small pleasures, I know.) But they both planted their peas before I did.) I eat many of my peas while standing next to the pea fence in the garden, but there are a couple of things I like to make with them, and this year, there's a new recipe I want to try. (It's an Indian pea dish that my former colleague Bantu's wife made when I was there in January, and it was so good that I made her dictate the recipe to me while she was still cooking.)

In other exciting garden news, the first two ripe strawberries have appeared . . . and had already been nibbled on by the birds by the time I found them. Now begins the annual strawberry tussle as well as the more enjoyable morning strawberry walks in the garden. I am a bit alarmed, however, because I've spotted two little rabbits near the garden quite recently. Neither was actually in the garden itself, but it's only a matter of time, once they're in the vicinity.

It's a nice time of year in the garden--almost everything is planted, the weeds haven't taken over yet, and there's still a feeling of anticipation. I'll like it even more once I too can eat 12 peas and a strawberry that the birds haven't gotten to first.

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