… and Clematis paniculata getting ready to bloom.

Prairie cup plant — more properly Silphium perfoliatum — is a fascinating North American native that apparently is uncommon in the horticulture trade. (I got mine from Prairie Nursery.) It grows as tall as 10 feet/3 meters or more, with a strong tendency to flop about after heavy rains, especially when grown in partial shade — which, unlike most prairie natives, it accepts happily — so you need to give it plenty of space.

The name (both common and botanical) derives from an interesting structural feature: the leaves are stemless, growing in pairs directly from the main stalks, so forming little bowl-like cavities that collect rain water. In drier places than Maine, these reportedly serve as drinking cups for birds.

My back deck was an afterthought in designing this cottage. It has turned out to be a very nice place to sit at the wood’s edge, though the view has gotten swallowed by the rampant clematis which does, I suppose, offer a bit of privacy from nosy moose.




When you’ve known depression, I think, the little up-and-down moods of daily life can scare you. It’s hard — but important — to remember that you can get sad from time to time without plunging into an emotional tailspin with no apparent bottom.

That’s about all I have to say about this. My son Matt left town yesterday for home in Virginia and my son Tristan is leaving to visit his girlfriend in New York before heading back to college. Callie, my daughter, called from the airport last night while waiting for a flight to Paris. Sometimes I miss the days of their childhood so much it’s hard to imagine how I can live without them — even though I’ve been doing it for a while now.


Stitched together from 17 Hipstamatic images snapped this morning from the back porch.

You can surmise a bit about local topography from this image: the band of semi-mature trees is rather thin, and beyond that lies a wetland (glimpsed at center-left) formed by a wide zone of underlying rock ledge that prevents water from draining and inhibits the growth of deep-rooted plants, notably deciduous trees.

The planted area is confined mostly to the foreground, and is meant to blend sympathetically into the surrounding woods — though in practical fact, the intentional plantings are left to run pretty wild, while the woodland has been significantly edited, by the thinning of tall evergreens, the making of paths, and the spotty introduction of new species. We’ve got now, for instance, 8 species of oak and a dozen varieties of Japanese maple.

I’ve always liked the thought — which arose among the British landed class, I imagine — that you should never plant a tree without consulting your heirs. My kids are all quite bossy and observant so this kind of thing takes care of itself.

My foot is healed enough for weed-whacking. So the overgrown labyrinth — originally conceived as an herb garden, but there’s not enough sun to do that properly — has emerged from the tangle of ramping and self-sown junglery.


Made from six Hipstamatic images (Doris lens, Suffolk film) merged with AutoStitch. The bird — a crow, actually — appeared in only one snap, the vine, Vitis coignetiae, in four. So many things you can do on the deck with a broken foot.

The almost-hidden walkway here was my first outdoor project after the cottage was finished and the builders went away.

I had been living in the basement for the last 6 weeks or so, while construction wrapped up abovedecks. I felt as though I were cowering in the face of all this newly acquired debt and no income worth speaking of.

At length I dragged myself outdoors where spring was well along and scrap lumber sat in two large piles atop compacted construction fill. The footbridge was made out of excess cedar decking material, set on raw native cedar logs cut into short lengths during the land-clearing process. The effort of making this proved therapeutic and the walkway has served well.