Wednesday Vignette – Sticks and swan

We’re in the gently rolling hills of noburbia, outside the venerable city of Cleveland, visiting family. Needless to say, I do miss my garden – even though I know both it and the cat, are in exceptionally capable hands, so I know I don’t have to worry. The garden here consists mostly of lots of lawn with numerous sugar maples – which I have to say has its own country charm. Stormy days have brought down considerable amounts of debris, and we’ve spent some time cleaning up the yard. At some point in time, there will be a spectacular bonfire, which of course is something one could never do within the city proper. Other than acreage, a definite benefit of living in the country! (Can you believe it – the grass is GREEN here!! We’ve had almost daily showers since we’ve been here. Aside from the staggering humidity that follows, this adds a fabulous lushness, despite high temperatures. I feel for the folks playing the US Open – we’re watching Nadal-Thiem sweat it out as I write this.)

Anyway, during our yard cleanup, I spotted this rusty old garbage can, and a somewhat hokey swan planter looking forlorn in the backyard. I got an idea. I had wanted to do something nice for my mother in law anyway – she just lost her husband of 54 years. Maybe I should have researched first, but true to form, I just went for it. Not being entirely sure how the lairs of real swans look, I used the garbage can and a bunch of the branches to create a nest for the swan. Given that the main gardener is now gone, the other pots out there were also in need of some help, so I took this as an excuse to visit a nearby local nursery. The plant that excited me the most was a Calamint – a plant which virtues were extolled on various websites, but that I don’t think I’ve ever seen in our Oregon nurseries. It is a long-blooming, fragrant, fine-textured plant, which sports a cloud of tiny flowers, and is a great pollinator plant to boot. The Calamint, along with a few other things came home with me, to keep the swan company. Wish I had room to bring one back to Oregon as well…  Pardon the cruddy photo – it was rather dusky by the time I was done. I hope the swan and her new friends will bring my mother in law some cheer when it’s discovered. 🙂

Swan planter

I initially had grander plans for the swan, but realized that I had overestimated the size of the pot. I could only fit two plants in there instead of the three I had hoped for. I couldn’t make my mind up which two, so the Foxtail fern ended up alone. It’s perfectly fluffy and feathery! I found a Tradescantia ohiensis. I had no idea Ohio had its own Tradescantia! The gourd was a gift from the kind nursery owner! 🙂

Swan planter

I put a NOID Veronica from the discount section at the base of the garbage can. The other three – the Calamint, a Heuchera, and a wonderfully fragrant green and white Dianthus replaced a weedy tangle in a metal tub. You can see some little pink flowers in there too. They were my father in law’s favorites. I don’t know what they are, but they came from seeds given to him by my mother, and have been happily seeding around for decades. I thought it needed to stay in there with the newcomers.

About annamadeit

I was born and raised in Sweden, By now, I have lived almost as long in the United States. The path I’ve taken has been long and varied, and has given me a philosophical approach to life. I may joke that I’m a sybarite, but the truth is, I find joy and luxury in life’s simple things as well. My outlook on life has roots in a culture rich in history and tradition, and I care a great deal about environmental stewardship. Aesthetically, while drawn to the visually clean, functional practicality and sustainable solutions that are the hallmarks of modern Scandinavia, I also have a deep appreciation for the raw, the weathered, and the worn - materials that tell a story. To me, contrast, counterpoint, and diversity are what makes life interesting and engaging. Color has always informed everything I do. I’m a functional tetrachromat, and a hopeless plantoholic. I was originally trained as an architect working mostly on interiors, but soon ventured outside - into garden design. It’s that contrast thing again… An interior adrift from its exterior, is like a yin without a yang. My firm conviction that everything is connected gets me in trouble time and time again. The world is a big place, and full of marvelous distractions, and offers plentiful opportunities for inquiry and exploration. I started writing to quell my constant queries, explore my discoveries, and nurture my curiosity. The Creative Flux was started in 2010, and became a catch-all for all kinds of intersecting interests. The start of Flutter & Hum at the end of 2013 marks my descent into plant nerd revelry. I occasionally contribute to other blogs, but those two are my main ones. For sure, topics are all over the map, but then again - so am I! Welcome to my blogs!
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17 Responses to Wednesday Vignette – Sticks and swan

  1. bergstromskan says:

    Very nice Anna. I do have to admit, I always thought the pink lovely “spreaders” came from you to me. Stig loves them, I weed away a lot, they still shine.

  2. In the village of Emsworth, not too far from us, a pair of swans nest each year on litter floating in a stream – so your branches are probably OK 🙂

  3. Peter Herpst says:

    Your mother in law will love what you’ve done. So nice of you to create this for her to discover, it’s lovely and fun. So sorry for your family’s loss! I think every urban gardener dreams of having acreage to plant! My WV is here:

    • annamadeit says:

      Thanks Peter! And yes, having all that space is just an almost unreal concept. Not to mention healthy, green lawns… it’s a different world in so many ways.

  4. Kris P says:

    Your arrangement will certainly provide a bright spot during this somber period for your family. I’m sorry for the loss of your father-in-law and my condolences extend to you and the rest of the family. I hope you have a chance to have that bonfire.

    Here’s my WV:

    • annamadeit says:

      Thanks so much Kris! Not sure if the fire would yield much more than lots of smoke after today’s massive downpour. Wish you could have seen it – it was like someone emptied a bucket of water on top of us. Completely otherworldly!

  5. Alison says:

    The swan is a lovely gesture, I’m sure your MIL will love it when she discovers it. I don’t know why we don’t have calamint available everywhere here in nurseries too, it’s supposed to be a great plant for drought tolerant meadow-type beds. I’ve been thinking of mail ordering some. You should put a bug in someone’s ear at Joy Creek.

    • annamadeit says:

      Thanks Alison, I think she got a kick out of it! I like your idea of bugging Joy Creek about it – if I have *any* room at all in my bags going back, I’m bringing one home. I think it’s an under-appreciated plant that truly deserves some west coast love!

  6. That’s terribly fun! I can’t conceive of that kind of summer rain, it just blows my PNW born and bred mind. My WV:

    • annamadeit says:

      I know… right? To me, the rain feels completely otherworldly and luxurious – although I could totally do without the weight of the constant humidity. That part wears me down.

  7. Pingback: Wednesday Vignette: L’Heure Bleue – A Moveable Garden

  8. Nicely done. There’s lots of Calamint at the Lurie Garden.

    • annamadeit says:

      Thanks, Jason! Somehow I’m not surprised – it’s a great plant! I was tempted to bring one back, but ended up not having room. So, I was elated to find it at Xera. Super stoked!!! Turns out someone out here DOES grow it – go figure! 😀

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