The catalpa tree is literally dripping with blossoms, many falling to the ground to create a white carpet.  This is a beautiful tree with large, heart-shaped leaves and large clusters of snowy white flowers.  Closer examination reveals an orchid-like flower with fringed lobes, two orange stripes and many purple spots and stripes inside.  In autumn the tree is hung with long, cigar-shaped “beans” that contain papery seeds.  It is fast growing, and planted as a shade tree or ornamental.  Matthew planted this one in order to harvest the worms that converge on the tree to eat the leaves.  He uses them for fish bait.

For some reason, I have been thinking of the “bubby rose” bushes of our childhood.  I haven’t seen one of these for years.  We called them “callycanthus” but the correct name is Calvcanthus glaucus.  We girls would pick the little purple flowers and drop them down our bosoms where they emitted a sweet strawberry fragrance.  I guess girls are too sophisticated now to use such primitive perfume.

Mountain laurel, or calico bush, is blooming now, its delicate cluster of blossoms looking so much like flower-sprigged dress material.  It is one of our most beautiful native flowering shrubs and is scattered throughout our hills.  Daddy disliked this shrub as it is poisonous to cattle.  It is believed that honey made from these flowers is also poisonous.  Nevertheless, they make a lovely bouquet.

June roses are blooming, and they always make me think of the mock weddings we had when we were kids.  It didn’t take much to organize a wedding—an old sheer curtain could be draped around the bride for a wedding gown.  We made wedding cakes with the gray clay mud that we dug from the creek bank, and decorated them lavishly with rambler roses and daisies.  Sometimes the groom (one of our brothers) refused to cooperate and the bride would shed angry tears.  I guess we were practicing for real life.

My cousin Charlotte didn’t have to use a window curtain.  She had a real crinoline petticoat that made here feel like a princess or a bride, and she would twirl around showing it off.  We had more fun using our imaginations and donning castoff clothing than 

children today do with all their expensive toys. 

It has been an exceptionally rainy spring, and so far we haven’t been able to cut the hay.  We see meadows with grass heading up, so we are not alone.  It takes four or five warm, sunny days to be able to cut it down and get it baled safely, and we haven’t had that many sunny days in a row.  The garden is thriving though, with early peas, lettuce and green onions already being harvested.  I found a clipping that my late Aunt Verba sent me years ago that is appropriate for this spring.  It is also comforting.

 “It was a wet spring, and the fields were lying idle, waiting the plows and harrows.  Waiting the sun, yet the wind was high and the ceaseless rain kept falling.  The farmers were growing anxious with nothing done.  ‘If this keeps up, our folks will be half-starving,’ the bitterest cursed the steady, pouring rain.  But my father, who was a patient man, kept saying, ‘it will come all right; the sun will shine again.’

 “And now that his tired body long has rested deep in the soil he loved, his words still stand true.  And often, when rains are falling overmuch on troubled, weary land, and my heart is swept with the wind’s continual blowing, and the day is dark as turbulent, storm-tossed night—I can hear his words and it comforts me recalling, ‘The sun will shine again, and it will come all right.’”

I can recall Mom telling me, when I was going through a particularly hard time, “Nothing lasts forever.”  It comforts me even today, and I can tell my own children, when they are having serious problems, “It will all work out—someway.  Maybe not the way we want, but God knows what is best.”

With all the rain, and our electric fence, we haven’t had any deer problems this year.  Someone had mentioned using milk on  the garden to deter deer, and we have a first hand account of this.  Shirley Cunningham of Charleston writes, “I can speak from experience that milk does deter deer.  I live on the hills of Charleston, and we are the constant target of many deer feeding on our fruit trees, ornamentals, and yes, our gardens!  We have tried every commercial product known to man without success.  My husband found an article written by George Longenecker, executive director of the West Virginia Botanic Garden being developed in Morgantown.

Here’s what he wrote, “Milk seems to be a deterrent for deer browsing.  We have been using it diluted (five parts water to one part milk) during the summer at about one month intervals, and during the winter undiluted at about three month intervals.  It is applied by sprinkling on the plants (through holes punched or drilled in a milk bottle cap) on a day with good drying conditions.  It does not seem to make a difference whether it is skim, 2% or whole milk and it does not have to be sour.  Fresh milk works the same.”

Now to her testimonial: “Since the explosion of the deer population in our area, I was not able to maintain or harvest a vegetable garden.  Three years ago we started using the milk solution on our plants.  My husband bought a two-gallon plastic garden sprayer (used for this purpose only) and we apply the diluted milk solution to our plants.  We re-apply after a rain, but this is a small price to pay in order to have fresh vegetables and fruit from our trees.”

Many folks have related how they are losing their flowers, shrubs, fruit trees to these foraging deer.  This seems like a simple solution, and it is worth trying.  Raising a garden is such a satisfactory project, if we can keep the varmints out.



By Arden Antony

He finds beauty among these simple things;

The path a plow makes in the rich, red loam,

Gay sun-gold in ripe wheat—a plover’s wings—

A cow-bell, tinkling as the herd comes home.

He treads the soil, with earth-love in his heart;

Watches the young crops spring from fertile ground,

Loves the warm rain that makes the peach buds start,

Land—and a man—in close communion bound! 


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