A glimpse of the sun

During the hot, dry months of summer I dream of rain, but it’s hard to imagine that now. We’ve had a procession of wet, gray days, so when the sun came out this morning, it was intoxicating. Everything looked lovely.
We had our one freezing week in January, so the semi-tropical plants are all withered and demoralized- poor banana, taro, tree tomato and even bouganvillea. The aloe and passion fruit outside the greenhouse, on the other hand, seemed quite content:

The narcissus in the same neighborhood are making their appearance among some pots of succulents:

And the fruit is finally ripe on this lanky young lemon tree:

In the distance, the mountain hid behind a cloud. (That’s Baki’s bathtub in the foreground.)

The dizziness is subsiding now, as we’re losing the sun to cloud cover, but I hope we’ll be enjoying another sunny morning before to long.

Meet Max

A few years back, I was looking at the Seeds of Change seed catalog, choosing seeds for the following year. I was looking at the perennial flower seed section, out of deference to Ali’s perennial preference, and was surprised to find a sunflower listed there. Maximillian sunflowers (Helianthus Maximilianii), the catalog promised, come back in abundance and grow prolifically enough to form a hedge. I did not hesitate.
In the first year, they grew much as you might expect a sunflower or Jerusalem Artichoke to grow, sending up tall stalks and flowering obligingly at the end of the summer. The second year, though, we noticed that where there had been Maximillian sunflowers the year before, there were numerous stalks emerging. These promising sprouts soon grew into thickets, and I saw what they meant when they mentioned hedges. By the time they flowered at summer’s end, they had colonized huge tracts of the garden.
Their display only lasts a few weeks, but they really go for it:

I would highly recommend them to anyone looking for some carefree color and possibly hoping to obstruct a view. I have tons of seeds if anyone is interested. (I take a handful for myself each year and the birds get the rest)

It isn’t so easy to get things done in the garden these days, with only the weekends available to me. On Sunday, though, Ali watched the kids for a little while so I could put some chicken wire up around a nice new raised bed that he’d made. Then I went and planted some garlic in our old corn bed. Garlic is one of my favorite things to grow; you just plant it and forget about it until the spring. It is like money in the bank when you put a bowl full of garlic cloves in the dirt. We used all of the largest heads from our harvest this past June, and my mom sent a lovely big head of garlic that she had gotten at the Union Square Greenmarket in NYC. That one is a hard-neck garlic, which I have never grown before – we always grow soft-necks and I make them into braids. It’ll be interesting to see what the hard-necks are like.

I guess the boys got restless, because I ended up with an audience:

Musk rose

One day, maybe five years ago, Ali and I were in Yenikoy, a neighborhood by the Bosphorous in Istanbul. We often went there in the Spring and early Summer to visit the giant mimosa tree or to see the wisteria in full bloom- there are lots of lovely gardens there that cam be appreciated from afar. On that particular day, Ali took me to see and smell a rose he’d encountered, a white rambler that tumbled over a garden wall. The scent of it was delicious, and we decided we’d take a cutting of it.
The cutting rooted ( taking cuttings is Ali’s department- I am more adept at seeds) and lived in a flower pot on our terrace. When we moved down here, I was in charge of packing the van, and that was one of the potted plants that I shoehorned into it.
Last year, I planted it out by the stairs and it immediately began to shoot up, as if it had been waiting for all that time to be liberated from the confines of its pot. Then Ali put up an arch over the path and now we have our own sweetly scented rambler that we pause regularly at the foot of the stairs to enjoy. We’ve pored over our garden books and we think it must be a musk rose, or Rosa Moschata.