LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 18

On Thursday, I spent the day on my hands and knees pulling weeds at Red Oak House. I have no complaints, as this is a quiet task, and I like quiet, solitary tasks.  The millions of elm seeds that blew in have sprouted and needed to be removed, and aspens sprout in all sorts of unwanted places. While I worked, I was serenaded by my resident house wren.

Midmorning, Daddy stopped by to pick up his fresh radishes. And after Jim gave him a tour of the gardens, Jim surprised him with an early tomato. I wish you could have seen the grin on his face as he held it in his gnarled hand. This caused me to remember how valiantly he tried to grow tomatoes in Slope County, naturally with far less success than his kin in Mississippi.

Daddy asked me if we had our flag out for Flag Day, and my answer was, yes, we have it out every day. (Well, we do put it away in the darkest months here on the northern Plains, January and February.) Being retired U.S. Army, Daddy is a stickler for proper flag etiquette, and rightly so.

A few daylilies have made their appearance. There will be hundreds more in the upcoming months.

Dark Towers Penstemon.
Dark Towers Penstemon.

The peonies and irises are beginning to fade, and so I deadheaded them. I go around the yard each day now with my bucket and my clipper and cut back spent blossoms.

When I work in the garden, I often think of my friend and longtime mentor, Bernnett Reinke, for whom I worked for 20 years, who was not only a top-notch librarian but also a master gardener. Bern generously gave me many plants and taught me much of what I know about flower gardening.

We had to take our mower to the shop Monday, and if I don’t get it back soon, I’ll be needing a swather for my tiny patch of grass.

It is a privilege to be able to quietly work in our gardens. My last task outside today was to weed the strawberry patch. I rejuvenated it last fall, pruning back the plants hard and composting from our compost pile (located in the very back corner of the yard, fortunately, near to the strawberry patch). Thus, it is that we are not harvesting much fruit this year. A blessing was that the wood rose bushes are blooming, and I got to revel in their fragrance.

My lavender has begun to bloom and will continue now for many weeks. I use a great deal of lavender oil for my bed sheets and such because it is such a pleasing and calming fragrance.

Jim spent all of Thursday weeding the vegetables, and today he has spent the morning writing on his blog. The wind is blowing too much for the “boys” to fish.  He wrote about a topic we are both passionate in opposition to: the proposed refinery near Theodore Roosevelt National Park. 

Gardening, writing and reading are three of our main activities here, punctuated by camping and going to concerts. My husband, Jim, says “he created a monster” when I started blogging, but I laugh and remind him that I created my blog all on my very own, thank you very much, and I’ve lived with him blogging for years now!

The temperature returned to a more pleasant 81, and we’ve been able to keep the windows open all the day long.

I got my bike fixed at the local shop and took my first ride of the year Wednesday on the neighborhood path around Tom O’Leary Golf Course. It felt good to be out with fellow North Dakotans enjoying the beautiful day, and I’m grateful that Bismarck has a great system of walking paths scattered all around the city. The path I took was busy with dog walkers and children.

My husband says that the most satisfying thing that he does is his vegetable garden. He actually bought more stuff to plant. Sweet potatoes and jalenpo peppers. Let the record show that he made the most recent trip to buy plants.

As for me, the most satisfying thing I’m going to do today is to take a hot shower!

The day ended with Caprese salad on our shaded front patio.  Doesn’t he look content?

One thought on “LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 18”

  • Old Gym Rat June 16, 2017 at 9:00 pm

    Very nice kid. I think when you live in a place with four seasons it is a more vibrant environment!


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