Reliable harbinger of spring
You sit dormant
Refusing to yield even one bud
One glimmer of hope
Others may succumb
To the siren songs of warm days
Greening shrubs
New grass underfoot
But I know you too well
Ever faithful
You have never lied to me
So I will wait
Sharpen my hoe
Hold back on planting
Until you once again reveal
Your own confidence
The weather has truly turned


The garden plot






My garden as of May 7th. I don’t know about the gargoyle, but I am certainly anticipating.


I prepped a new garden yesterday. It felt good getting out in the yard, though my knees and back may argue that point. The site used to host a teenage mutant ninja weeping cherry tree which I finally put out of our misery two weeks ago. I left a good-sized stump, figuring it would make a nice centerpiece. One of our gargoyles (yes we have more than one gargoyle) finds it quite comfy.

Our gargoyl sitting on a stump.We put the tree in ten to twelve years ago. We did quite a bit of landscaping at the time – stone retaining walls, patio, new shrubs – that sort of thing. Our yard is loaded with mature trees, so there is very little sunny area left for a garden. There was one little spot, just off the walkway to the neighbor’s house, that I thought we should preserve for a vegetable patch. But my wife, Cyndi, had her heart set on a weeping cherry tree, and that spot was just about the only available one left to us. So I gave up on my vegetable plot and we bought a weeping cherry to put there instead.

We looked at a local nursery and were shocked at the price. So we went to a national chain big box store (of the hardware persuasion) and were pleased to find one about half that price in their garden area. We brought it home and our landscaping contractor planted it for us.

It soon became apparent that there was something not quite right about this particular weeping cherry. In the springtime it did present lots of lovely pink flowers on gracefully cascading boughs, at least on the lower half. On the upper half of the tree, however, the branches went straight up and the flowers were white. The old adage “you get what you pay for” quickly came to mind. Our cut rate weeping cherry was the victim of a bad graft.

I spent years cutting out what I could of the top, but I simply could not keep up with it. All that cutting must have opened the tree up to insects and disease, for it was not long before cankers began to from on the trunk and it became an annual smorgasbord for bag worms.

After fighting it for more than ten years we finally had enough of it. My wife agreed, it was time for Mr. Cherry to go.

It took me several days, and a couple of loads of Yard Waste to eliminate the tree, but it is finally gone. And in it’s place is a nice little sunny spot in the yard. I can finally have my vegetable plot.

Our small garden plot.

Tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini.

See. Good things do come to those who wait.

© 2012 by J. M. Strother, all rights reserved. Photos by J. M. Strother.


For the first time in my life I am trying my hand at upside down tomatoes. I’ve heard about them for years, but have always had my doubts. Considering how poorly my tomato plants produced last year I figured this year I may as well give them a shot. Things could hardly turn out worse.

My Upside Down Tomatoes

So I bought four of those “Down Under” planters, rearranged the wind chimes (remember them?) and hung four plants from my porch eaves. Rafters? Roof? The thing in the picture. To my amazement they seem to be doing pretty well. I’d say confused, but healthy. If you look carefully you might see some actual tomatoes forming on the plant near the post.

The two on either side of the post are cherry tomatoes, my wife’s favorite. The other two are heirloom tomatoes called Old German. First time for heirloom tomatoes too. Rumor has it heirlooms taste better than the big name ones found most places. We shall see.

Hopefully this project will turn out better than my overwintering of the Poinsettia. Remember him? I was hoping a move to the outside in the springtime would rejuvenate the poor thing.

One Dead Poinsettia

Didn’t work out too well, did it?

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