Did you make a reservation?

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The plants are back.

The garden has been like a big empty hotel, dark and quiet, with vacant rooms and no heat, and now suddenly the place is filled with sunshine, and guests dressed in their bright vacation clothes are bustling in, all very excited and demanding attention of every kind from the management. Water, mulch, weeding, moving (yes I am still moving things), killing (just a couple– I try to keep the murders to a minimum), sorting out conflicts, staking, baby-plant care. It’s exhausting.

pink columbine

But they are the Beautiful People, like in Hollywood only quieter, and so we hurry around to accomodate them so they won’t check out of the establishment and we can continue to vicariously share in The Lives of the Green and Flowery.

Delphinium trolliifolium or Columbian larkspur

Dark blue native delphinium blooms have arrived, but no roses open yet, although the little green rosebuds are out there and I can almost hear them broadcasting a lunch call to the deer.

Well the garden-as-hotel metaphor is already definitely wobbling… I’ll end it like The Hotel California: “You can check-out any time you like, but you can never leave.” (Gardeners are such dictators.)

white clematis

Here is a tall white clematis which I did not grow from a cutting and which is going to get too big for the little bamboo teepee construction and whose name I thought I knew but then I thought it would bloom purple as well and it didn’t.

white clematis closeupIt might be a very light shade of purple…

Meyer lemonThe Meyer lemon is multi-tasking to impress that blue columbine, growing both lemons and its famous perfumed flowers while camping outside for the summer to escape a gang of greenhouse aphids.

refugee artborvitaeIn other news, the refugee arborvitae isn’t quite dead. I found it, way down where two fences meet.

Okay that was where I had planted it, a long time ago, and back then it was green and growing and vigorous looking. But other more pushy things grew up in front of it–I won’t mention any names but the initials are crape myrtle and summersweet–and I sort of forgot about it back in the corner…The result was the poor sad plant you see before you which looks like it was dragged behind a truck for quite a few miles or possibly chewed on by starving rats.

Of course I had envisioned this shrub as a dramatic vertical architectural expression at the turning point of the interior fence corner, not a rat-chewed stick with a bit of coarse moss growing on it.

So I rescued it from me.

I have since forgiven myself my neglect and now I am just encouraging me to give this plant every possible benefit in the way of garden care. How gratifying to know that I have rescued it from my evil clutches at last.

Now, here is today’s etiquette question which is sort of an essay question so pay close attention.

Say you have a gardening friend over for lunch, and after you eat and after you do the garden tour and you successfully skirt all the difficult questions like “what’s the name of that rhododendron” and “why did you plant that rose in the shade” and you are just sort of relaxing in very comfy and traditional white wicker chairs (which you scooped a couple years ago at Goodwill) beneath the maple tree and then, with no warning whatsoever, a bird perched and singing in the tree above poops on your visitor’s head.

Now, this is not the sort of small mishap that you as hostess can hope will go unnoticed by the victim. I didn’t hear a “plop” sound but certainly the plopped-on guest knew immediately what had befallen her, you might say, so there was no avoiding the issue.

thoughtfully provided birdbath

My first thought here is that my garden birds are ingrates (there are FOUR bird baths around here, if you count the broken one, FOUR) and that those birds have horrible dark ideas about humor and no sense of propriety at all. And how could I have such poorly behaved rude rebellious appallingly impolite creatures in my garden anyway?

I will eagerly await your advice on how I should have handled this delicate situation.  In the meantime I admit to having simply removed the offending fallen sky from my guest’s thankfully-short hair with a wet cloth.  But it wasn’t long before she observed, “Well, I gotta run. Must wash my hair.”

Should I have brought out shampoo right away? How about a shotgun and gone after the bird? Should we both have pretended there was no bird poop on anyone’s head? Let me know.

Max and viburnum

[Max cannot believe I wrote about that.]

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About linniew

Unpublished novelist seeks therapy in gardening. Westie assists.
This entry was posted in Clematis, Max the Westie, Pacific Northwest native plants and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

56 Responses to Did you make a reservation?

  1. Alison says:

    Your blog never fails to make me laugh. My garden is full of clamoring customers too. I’m so sorry to say I guffawed at the fate of your poor friend. Probably because I was expecting you to say that your friend had said something very ungracious to you, but then it turned out she had the ungracious done to her. I would have done exactly what you did. Did your friend cut her visit short? Had you made plans to do something more that day that she backed out of?

    • linniew says:

      I will tell you Alison, in complete confidence, that my friend thought it was all terribly funny. (She is like that or else how would she put up with me?) So no, she didn’t leave early. But I expect she did wash her hair when she got home.

  2. Aimee says:

    I also must admit to having laughed – heartily – and very much out loud at this story. However I was, just last week, the target of falling bird poop as well. Right on the head. On the farm, no shower in sight for the next 8 hours, but a garden hose did the trick. Someone once told me that it’s supposed to bring you good luck when bird crap lands on your head. I’m choosing to go with that line. Tell your friend to go buy a lottery ticket. 😉

    Your columbine, delphinium, meyer lemon and clematis are all gorgeous, by the way!

    • linniew says:

      Oh Aimee I just LOVE thinking of you working on that farm in New York! And your point about the good luck was just the best– still giggling here about that– I can’t wait to tell my friend how darn lucky she is.

  3. Greg says:

    I would have laughed my aiss off. lol. It happens. What can I say.

  4. cathywieder says:

    My first thought was that if it had happened to me, I would have laughed so hard (kind of like I’m doing now), I’d have wet my pants, at which point you could have offered me the use of your shower, shampoo, and fuzzy bathrobe while you scrounged for a tee shirt and shorts for me to borrow to wear home.

    HOWEVER, since she was clearly not amused, I would probably have simply reassured her that the protein conditioner was on the house and offered her the hose, just as you did.

    Gorgeous blooms, BTW… and your dark blue columbine is dramatic and absolutely the most incredible blue I’ve ever seen!

    • linniew says:

      It was remarkably entertaining for such a yucky event, and I must clarify that even the victim was indeed amused. And I will keep a fuzzy bathrobe on hand for when you ever visit my coast Cathy, just in case.

      The blue columbine seeds itself readily, a wild flower I believe. I can save you seeds…

      • cathywieder says:

        I would adore sore. I have pastel blue ones that I could trade…. we could even do a matchy matchy thing.

        • linniew says:

          I feel you mean “seed.” And I think matchy matchy thing sounds so interesting but I hope it’s not difficult like finding two socks that are the same…

          • cathywieder says:

            Yes, I meant SEED…. and as for socks, I solved THAT problem by restricting the male members of the household to two colors of dress socks (light and dark… as in black and tan) and one kind of sport sock – gray (because I knew I would never be able to keep them white after my son wore the same ones for a week. And always the same brand.

            As for matchy matchy, I can’t be bothered with socks. I am too busy matching my gardening aprons to my gardening hats, which are matched to the flowers in my
            garden. That’s so I don’t clash if anyone decides to take a picture of me in the garden. Of course, I am the one who does all the photography around here, so that’s probably never going to happen anyway!

  5. So, I have to ask. Do you have a lot of “pretty pretty boys that [you] call friends?” *grin*

  6. And we welcome the plants back.

    As for the misbehaving bird, well… I think one should take a “stiff upper-lip” approach and wipe it off and then ignore that it ever happened. The last thing you want to do is teach your birds that if they want attention, all they have to do is crap on you or your guests; you’ll be covered in guano in no time!

    • linniew says:

      Oh–I never considered that perhaps the bird wanted human attention. I did imagine that he was trying to make a name for himself among the other birds, and I expect he accomplished that.

      • Hrm… Maybe the aim should be to make birds that crap on people’s heads look un-cool to their fellows? Perhaps by pointing at them and laugh “ha-ha; you are so totally uncool!”?

  7. Alberto says:

    According to my old mum’s book ‘Il libro del galateo’ (‘the etiquette book’) (the book is old, not my mum! well she’s almost 60 anyway…) YOU should have jumped over your guest and protect her like one of the President’s bodyguards do when someone is trying to shoot him. As I said the book is very old, because since we had Berlusconi as a President they’ve changed the tactic and the bodyguards are now supposed to protect the shooter… (but this is another story).
    Another way of reacting could have been pretending that you are growing the hair wax tree, which sometimes squirts its product in somebody’s hairs to keep them in shape. That host of yours could have gone home happy and stylish, like Cameron Diaz in There’s Something About Mary! (anyway in this case it was poop, right?!)

    But we are talking about gardening here, right? So your columbines are very pretty, your clematis is spooky ghostly amazing and your lemon tree is creepy (in both senses).

    • Alberto says:

      …and the hotel metaphor was brilliant!

    • linniew says:

      Oh Alberto, thanks for the good laugh. You are so funny. I do love the hair wax tree concept and I will certainly try that next time. Or maybe I need to hire bird-poop guards to hold umbrellas over the heads of all visitors like your mom’s book almost suggests…

      I knew you would notice the over-reaching part of the lemon tree– I promise to whack it back as soon as those lemons are ripe and harvested.

  8. Kate says:

    Have you considered offering your guests protective head gear?

  9. b-a-g says:

    I think the beautiful blue delphinium is the Angelina Jolie of your garden.

    I personally would not have held myself responsible for an act of nature, even if it was in my garden.
    I would have casually asked : ” Is there anything I can get you? “

    • linniew says:

      I actually like the blue delphinium more than that. It might be the Johnny Depp of my garden…

      Your suggested casual response is very funny b-a-g, like Miss Prothero in A Child’s Christmas in Wales, when she asked the firemen if they wanted anything to read.

  10. kininvie says:

    I had lots of guests checking in, but they all got murdered in their beds (:- It’s well known amongst sailors that if a seagull craps on you it is extremely lucky. So the correct response to your visitor should have been to shout “Such luck! It’s your happy day! Wait while I fetch the camera to record your good fortune.”

    • linniew says:

      Well, it ’twas done quickly. — I will hope your weather moderates very soon Kininvie.

      This idea that bird-crap-on-head brings good fortune seems prevalent and interestingly contradictory. A big beam fell on my (booted) foot once, and I don’t remember any great luck following in that instance… Still I shall be sure to remember next time re bird droppings and if I have my phone or a camera I will post the image here immediately because clearly people need information about these things.

      • kininvie says:

        Beams are not the same. You can’t expect luck from just anything that falls on you. Bird crap is special in a karmic kind of way – I mean, consider the odds against…

        • linniew says:

          Karmic? But Kininvie dear, that would suggest that one had shat upon someone else, metaphorically I will assume, and thereby deserved to become the bird’s target. I feel certain that can’t be be what you are suggesting. Is it?

    • Rachelle says:

      Recording the good fortune with camera and POSTING IT!!!– (So glad K has not found my blog!)

  11. Holleygarden says:

    Your ‘beautiful people’ are just lovely. That very light purple clematis is stunning! As for the bird – ahem – stuff, well, from now on you know to keep straw hats around, and make sure your guests wear them. They will think you are a bit quirky or eccentric, but at least they will be protected in future incidents!

    • linniew says:

      Anyone who comes to my house knows I am much worse than quirky or eccentric, so sure. Actually I may put in a supply of hardhats and issue them to guests without explanation but maybe with a glass of beer.

  12. atemp says:

    I love the hotel metaphor. You never fail to make gardening writing fun …

    Twenty years ago while sharing a picnic and a bottle of wine under a tree with an ex-boyfriend, a bird pooped on his glasses. He did not find the incident funny at all, and we had to pack up and go back to his apartment so he could shower. Now that I think about it, perhaps that was the beginning of the end… 🙂

    • linniew says:

      I am astonished at the entertaining comments this odd post has inspired. What a great story Sheila! So maybe a hardhat or straw hat or etc. wouldn’t have saved his glasses. Good thing you got beyond that fellow–no sense of humor at all.

  13. I think the whole thing is hilarious! While a straw hat is definitely a possibility, I think full a football uniform is preferable so that as little of the human body as possible is exposed. Or perhaps scuba gear. I might have laughed uncontrollably or possibly remarked, “Some people have all the luck! Did you know anthropologists studying the ancient cultures of Timbuktu have deemed bird crap a sign of honor from the gods? Sheesh! I’m out here all the time and I never get crapped on.”

    • linniew says:

      “Honor from the gods” sounds like the gods having a bit of a good time at our expense– situation normal there. “Like flies to wanton boys” etc. I hope someone teases the gods now and then.

  14. Erin Bechtel says:

    Oooor, you could jump up and say, oh my dear! What a clever way to tell me your going to
    England on vacation and you brought you fascinator Along to show me ! Those english nature-lovers will adore it ! And btw, don’t be surprised if mushrooms sprout from it as well.
    If you don’t fancy that,just say “guano happens ! ” Erin

  15. Fay says:

    Linne – your chum must be blessed – being pooped on by birds is very lucky – she’s clearly delighted – hence the lack of checking out without paying the bill. A damp cloth I think is perfect etiquette – well done you on rising to the challenge. I’m wondering if you’ve done a kinda deal on your hotel – its certainly popular isnt it. Gardeners are indeed dictators. Although its really not working in my garden, I wonder if you’d pop over and have a word – I’m seriously thinking of checking out myself and moving my flowers to a different hotel – one a little less hostile. Even the wind netting has abandoned me, no stamina in the face of adversity it would appear.

    • linniew says:

      Yes I am looking forward to telling my friend how damn lucky she is with that bird. (I can count on her sense of humor here so it’s okay.) Sorry your garden is blowing away– there is just no depending on the weather anywhere anymore. My roses are just about to bloom as the rain returns… I send you sunny windless thoughts Fay!

  16. Grace says:

    Linnie Dear,

    I thoroughly enjoyed your hotel metaphor and hope you’ll continue with it, perhaps in future posts. Something about “the Red Carpet” would be a good inclusion although my mind isn’t serving up anything creative at the moment.

    I think if this bird-pooping scenario happened to me and a chatting (or chatty) friend, I’d just erupt in laughter. I mean, how ironically funny is it that a bird just happens to let loose a squishy blessing where it does and did? How often are we blessed with such delightful little drops of serendipity? Methinks you handled it superbly.

    Rumor has it, Arborvitae, unarguably of the gentry class, are very forgiving and will respond favorably to your belated altruism.

    For Max: You sure look cute out there in that sea of green with the matching Doublefile to accentuate your pristine coat.

    • linniew says:

      Well yes Gracie there WAS quite a bit of laughing I have to admit. My friend is really first-rate and has a fabulous sense of humor– or else she would never put up with me ever at all.

      I hope you are right about the arborvitae (more like arbormort in this instance)– I’m giving it my best effort. And I agree that Max was nice and white in that photo, which I took about ten minutes after his bath. You should see him today.

  17. I never thought about the garden being in charge instead of me but it definitely is.

  18. Roberta says:

    At least your guests are fancy and know how to dress. The Indeterminates have arrived and they’ve already overstayed their welcome. They schlep around in their favorite pajama pants all day and night and they lean on everybody. They’re “close talkers” is what they are.

    The pumpkin seeds that you sent are taking off! Well, ok, one is but it’s really taking off! I started the hollyhocks in a little pot and they are weak. Sunflowers like me more than hollyhocks and that’s not saying much.

    As for the bird pooping it made me laugh and reminded me of when I was dating Michael The Fastidious (only man I know who takes in t-shirts to be hemmed). We lived in San Francisco and walked everywhere. One evening he came home out of breath after trudging up the hill. He told me how he had avoided being pelted by bird poo on Hayes Street by several pigeons roosting overhead. He said he was walking along, minding his own business and could hear the poop falling from overhead. He froze in place and all around him, encircling him even, excrement hit the sidewalk. He was most pleased that he was only hit by backsplash which hit the edge of his shoe. He pointed out the tiny droplet. “Right there,” he said, pointed out the speck.

    I doubted him so the next day he took me to the spot and showed me the circle of pigeon droppings from on high. Amazing. If you ever needed to bump someone off, hire a bird because they can always manage to make it look like an accident.

    • linniew says:

      Oh ‘berta, what a fun comment. It makes the whole blog thing worthwhile.

      Please tell Michael that his escape from the pigeons is the stuff of legend– he may be part of some important predestined story that is playing out involving dogs and chickens and writers…

      I am thrilled that a pumpkin grew for you– the seeds I tried are all VERY QUIET and I know we planted at the same time, so I don’t think they are coming. My sugar pumpkin seeds grew and are real plants, in the greenhouse, waiting with the cucumbers for the May chilly rain and wind to go away again.

  19. Roberta says:

    You do have the best comments of all blogs. One day I’ll have to tell you how I lost my pants on Oak Street.

    • linniew says:

      That would be a fabulous opening line for a piece of fiction, which tells you how much I want to hear the story.

      • I read is as “How I lost my PLANTS on Oak Street” – and if that was the title of a novel I’d definitely buy it!

        • linniew says:

          Pants…plants…No Søren, not the same at all, especially when it comes to losses. But you may be right that they are BOTH good hooks for grabbing a reader. (Go for it Roberta.)

          • “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. There were beautifully sunny days, there were dreadfully frosty nights. In short, it was just another April on Oak Street, the place of residence for myself and – until recently – my treasured cluster of acanthus plants, inherited from my grandmother Margrethe.

            When the weather forecast had mentioned frosty nights, my instant reaction had been to protect my little darlings with whatever I had at hand, and as the acanthus came from my grandmother I figured that a suitable shelter from the cold night air would be my oldest, most worn-out pair of granny-panties. You know the sort, and you’re a big liar if you claim not to have at least one pair yourself; the large, somewhat unflattering panties that are so comfortable to wear and produce no VPL – Visible Panty Line…

            It seemed the perfect fit, the fabric of the large panties easily covering several of the prematurely budding plants, and as evening wore on and the temperatures plummeted below freezing point I cuddled up in my living room in front of a blazing fire – okay, it was a really, REALLY hot radiator – comfortable in the knowledge that my plants were well protected from the cold.

            You always forget something, don’t you? And I, well… I had forgotten about the neighbour’s goat who tends to roam the local gardens and yards at night, foraging for left-out garments on the laundry lines and other tasty treats.

            The next morning when I was making my morning coffee I looked out through the window towards the garden, and that’s when I saw it. Pitifully wilted leaves, stretched out on the ground in full circles around the acanthus crowns, a few small scraps of fabric scattered throughout the herbaceous border and some tell-tale hoof-prints in the bare soil between the perennials.

            They were gone. My plants and pants together with my gardening credentials. So budding gardeners and well-versed horticulturalists alike, let this be a cautionary tale to you all: When frost threaten your plants, keep on your pants!”

  20. Roberta says:

    BRAVO!!!! I was hooked from the beginning. You managed to lose both your pants and your plants in only 6 paragraphs. Sadly, my pants story is not nearly as interesting.

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