Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ma Nature decided to cut us a break from the cycle of storms and high heat n’ humidity we’ve been enduring for the past two weeks or so.  It’s a sunny, cool, dry day at Port Swiller Manor, so Ol’ Robbo was up early mowing, trimming, weeding, and taking down some nasty chicken-wire from the top of the garden fence that I don’t feel the need to endure anymore because the deer seem to have stopped coming into the yard since we got the dog. (I’m still keeping my rose bushes penned, though. Rabbits and groundhogs, y’know.)  And to top it all off, I even took the time to whack back the forsythia hedge.  (Which, true to form, although it grows like a weed, had a thoroughly anemic bloom this spring.  I’m finally going to try experimenting with plant food to see if I can get any more lead into its pencil for next year.)

When Ol’ Robbo is that far along his list of priorities this far into the summah, you know it’s going to be a winning year in the garden.

It’s a curious thing, too.  If you’ll pardon my going all Internal Robbo on you for a moment, I should note that it’s been a very rough time for me since the Mothe died.  (It’ll be a year ago a week from tomorrow.) Although I only now and again still get those fits of the blue devils that absolutely sandbagged me for months, I still feel like I haven’t completely reconnected with the world – family, friends, church, work – and I also haven’t yet much picked up on those things that I really enjoy in life – like music and so forth.  I say all this not out of self-pity, but just because it seems (as I say) curious that I have done so well in the garden while still feeling relatively removed from everything else.  Perhaps zer ist zum gunnegshun in zee mind, ja?

Anyhoo, enough of that.  The garden itself is really coming into its prime, with the Buddleia and Joe-Pye in full bloom and absolutely covered in bees and butterflies as I had intended.**  Also going great guns is Ol’ Robbo’s Prairie Cup Plant.  Its history is rather interesting, and if I have told this story before, which I don’t recall, it was so long ago that I feel at liberty to tell it again.

As you might gather from its name, the Cup Plant is primarily a denizen of the high prairie.  (Now that I type this, I do remember telling this story before, because I recall a commenter tsk-tsking at me about the eeeeevils of introducing non-native species into one’s home environment.  I can assure whoever that was that the local ecosystem remains intact, and my garden visitors really seem to appreciate its presence.  Also, at least according to Wiki, it is native to the Great Commonwealth of Virginny, so there.)

This particular sample, however, had quite the strange odyssey, because it (or its parent) originally was discovered by Mrs. Robbo’s brother-in-law in a roadside ditch in the Boston suburbs.  (God alone knows how it wound up there.) Being a gardener himself, he stopped, dug it up, and took it home, where it thrived so well that he divided it up and spread it all along various back borders around his yard.  I noticed it when we visited and complimented him on it.  He immediately separated out a couple offshoots, wrapped them up, and presented them to me. I, in turn, brought them home and planted them here.

This must have been eight or nine years ago.  For the rest of that summah and on into the following year, they did very well.  But then they went into a decline and died away, and I saw nothing more of them for some time.

Then, about four years ago, I suddenly noticed that a cup plant was coming up again.  (Their square stalks and cup-like leaf base are easily recognizable.)  Since then, it’s got bigger and stronger each year. (About seven feet tall and six wide, now.)   And as I say, it’s going great guns this year.

The one thing it hasn’t done yet is self-seed, which is too bad, because I’d really rather like to have some more of it. Indeed, I am now toying with the idea of simply going out and buying some companion plants to put in other corners, even if they wouldn’t have the same family connection.  Perhaps I’ll wait one more year for any seedlings before I do this, though.

In the meantime, I think I’ll have another glass of iced coffee and sit on the porch watching the butterflies…..

**”Prime” is a relative term, here. My plot is still largely scraggly and under-developed, but when it comes into bloom it takes on a certain dryad loveliness, especially when, like this year, I am able to keep the morning glory and other weeds relatively at bay.  For years I have fought off successfully Mrs. R’s desire to level it and install a tennis court instead.  (No, my garden is not the size of a tennis court.) Since she has recently taken to gardening herself, however, we are now talking about plans for raised beds, balanced soils, proper groupings of seasonal plants, a formalized path, and, of course, the latest defenses against the beasties.  (And yes, I plan to save some of its current occupants, too.)

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