The Slow-Rhea Movement

by Rheasq

It’s only June and the year has already been so interesting and so tough.  In the past I’ve written mostly as a catharsis, sometimes healing wounds too deep to see.  It’s been a while since I put digits to keyboard; I’ve been avoiding the demands of the computer lurking and taunting me as I scuttle through my day.

It’s not as if I haven’t had some ideas.  The slowness of the spring to develop lent some ideas for the Burgeon Queen or the Burgeon Rhea, but I just never could force my self to sit down and do it.  Like my dogs, there have been too many distractions to sit and stay.

Today, I missed my window for mowing.   My mowing method is a trusty, old John Deere push mower.  While self propelled, in the last couple years the propelling has become open to interpretation.  When it dies and I scatter its ashes, time for a new mower.  But not today.

No, today I bother my dear reader with the musings of a different 2014.  I ran across a quote a couple years back “If you want different results, you have to do things differently.”  My experiment for 2014.  I attempted a consulting life in 2013; in 2014 I realized that I really didn’t like working with people that really didn’t want me in their offices, regardless of how badly they needed help.  So I learned to say no and bye-bye.    Instead of rushing into the next gig, I am taking a step back.  As Jim Carey said in his graduation address, I think I want to fail at something I really love to do.  At least I will have enjoyed the journey.

I am trying to Let Go and Let God.  I am trying to not always be DOING.  I am still trying to learn not kill myself with so much hard labor. And I am learning while alcohol is a compelling way to relax and sometimes temporarily forget, it is a slope I really don’t have the muscle to climb.

How do you slow a Rhea down?  Very carefully.

2014 in the garden has also been a year of different ventures, different results.  Last year, I had to take the bull by the horns and do massive scorched earth operations in beds not maintained for three years.  Self pegging roses attempted to eat me alive and not even leave anything for compost.  I decommissioned a huge sun bed full of tree peonies, roses, irises, butterfly weed. Giving away, transplanting, sometimes abandoning.  It was going back to sod.  I needed to simplify.

While our Plains brethren scoffed at our winter weather, for the midwest it was an unbelievable season.  I grew up outside of Chicago, so I know a few things about winter weather.  First, let me say that this area is not used to sustained weather of any kind.  The winter of 2013-2014 not only brought lots of snow, it brought sustained low temperatures, aggressive winds lasting for days.  The result being even lower temperatures.

Generally, by the time April has rolled into the hood, there are some pretty advanced signs Mother Nature is softening her stance.  Not so, 2014.  For weeks it was even too cold to venture out to check the beds without some serious gear.  Finally able to go out with only a heavy sweater, I saw so little peaking above the soil level it was frightening.  Sometime in May, early, or very late April, I saw the first defiant digits of peonies clearing the ground.  It took several days after that before anything else was brave enough.  Scary.  There was a bit of a warm snap and for any intrepid hostas that proved their undoing. Some came up and some were scorched back to earth by cold.

Then finally, temperatures began to settle in the warmer brackets.  Slowly, slowly trees budded out, spring ephemerals launched.  Ahhh, burgeoning.

As it turns out, for some peonies and most of the irises it was a great spring.   Apparently the coral family of peonies really loved being hammered by cold.  My woodland tree peony was stunning, and some of the irises bloomed like they have never bloomed before.


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For roses, a spotty spring.  Most roses died back to the ground.  Even the two knock outs I purchased for $5 in a scratch and dent sale, were knocked back to earth.  As it turns out, rosa The Fairy which someone begged me to pull out of their yard a decade or more ago was hardly impacted. And while my rangy pink Grootendorst had some fall out, she’s doing quite well, thank you.  The real rose stand outs were Darlow’s Enigma which has been trained into a maple on an exposed northern face of the yard;





the Chrysler Imperial which is about the only hybrid tea I fool with, for me never a very robust rose but I cannot live without that fragrance;





and the last rose has no name and no picture. It is a storied rose in my garden.  Part of the roll out of the old sun garden, last year it was moved.  As it came out of its spot of 15 years, it broke into pieces.  And in pieces, it was placed along a new arbor and fence line.  As of today, this rose is about 120 years old.  Given to me in the mid nineties by a friend who had no need of it, but because her 90 year old client had given it to her she couldn’t just take it out with extreme prejudice.  So she gave it to me.  This rose had been growing outside the front door of her client’s birth place.  I was saddened and worried that I had to move this gem.  It was a beautiful rose; old fashioned quartered blooms in a nice palish/mid pink with a marvelous old rose fragrance.  It had been growing inside a tuteur with a dusky purple clematis in my sun garden.  I had low hopes that either would survive relocation or that deadly winter.  And she thumbed her nose at me.  All the various pieces living and blooming, including the clematis.  Will try to post pictures when the second flush graces me with her presence.

The real beneficiaries of this new winter/new results have been my hostas.  Even those clobbered by an early roll out, have thrived.  So thick and so lush it’s been unbelievable.


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Weeds too appear to have been unintended beneficiaries to this harsh new winter.  Commando efforts will be necessary to eradicate or at least knock back these interlopers.  Different efforts here include having to resort to chemical means in some areas to removed these unwanted pests.  A very conflicting change.

New on the scene this year are projects I am taking on:

The truck garden that from last fall to this went from compost to set up to full of, yes burgeoning, vegetables.

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Hanging my newly acquired green man:







After five years, opening my fountain:





The new fountain project, in progress:

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Blooming rattle snake plant, YOWZA!

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Deer stalking……

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And after that marathon, bi-annual update, something completely new to the farm:






Hmmmmm, the slow life………