achillea millefolium (common yarrow)

This morning I took a little time to shoot some yarrow (achillea millefolium) by our wheelbarrow container.  The little disk flowers make a fascinating, most revealing subject for close-up photography but I didn’t get so close as to show such detail- I was shooting off my tripod but not using a timer. A breeze meant I had to shoot more open, although I should have done it a little differently to isolate my subject better (I was using my Nikkor 105 mm). It’s a toss-up, because I like a little impressionistic texture. And I was in a hurry because Oliver Fern was screeching for me to bring him outside! After I got a half dozen somewhat-satisfactory shots, we watched bumblebees together and then I let him play with the garden hose. Babies love garden hoses! And they scream and violently flop around when you pry it out of their hands!

This part of our garden gets a lot of compliments by passerbys and I am pretty happy with how it has turned out over time. It hardly resembles a wheelbarrow anymore so overgrown has it become, which may not be all bad because for a couple years I worried it looked too precious in that Strawberry Shortcake kind of way. The texture of the flowertops here could be deceiving if you weren’t familiar with yarrow…….in reality the disk flowers are so firm and densely clustered you could probably set a thimble on top and it’d be there at the end of the day. It’s a nice flower for Oliver to touch because it doesn’t disintegrate in five seconds between his meaty baby fingers.

Ah, classic yarrow. So common and yet really a staple. Oh, what is that you say? Do I actually sound like a fruity English gardener with bushy eyebrows and overgrown nose hairs? At any rate, this yarrow is descended from a plant that’s more than ten years old. It’s hardy. I divided it up last year because it was getting so darned floppy in its original home and because we were having our parking strip trees replaced and the yarrow was in the line of fire. Not only was my propagation successful but the original plant emerged from the ashes of stump grinding and sprouted anew in the parking strip.  My main kvetch with yarrow is its floppiness after a hard rain, especially when it’s blooming. Putting it by the edge of a sidewalk or other border (like I did with the propagation) may not be the best idea. When I first moved some of the yarrow to the new spot by the wheelbarrow, it was healthy-looking but droopy as heck all summer long. It’s a lot springier, now. The Shasta Daisies are propping it up nicely, but I’ll also strive to be more disciplined about cutting back stalks after the blooms. Common yarrow is very drought tolerant and blooms from May to the end of June, some in autumn, too. It has some interesting properties in that it’s known to improve soil quality and improve the health of plants nearby that aren’t doing so well. Which seems to ring true for ours, except it must have done such a good job at that, it eventually got crowded out over time. What I do not like about yarrow is early in Spring if I work around it a bit too closely, I have a horrible and nearly instantaneous allergic reaction to the dusty gray-green foliage. I sneeze like crazy!

This morning I noticed the bumblebees were concentrating exclusively on the cat mint (the purple flowers in these pictures).  Grandma protested over the phone yesterday when I told her I was getting rid of the catmint but I’m fed up with kittycats rolling around in it and then capping off their euphoria with a few reality-thudding turds. Diana approved the purchase of a Super Soaker water bazooka that will be devoted exclusively to opening fire on local cats who wander into our yard. Adam is thrilled about assisting in this endeavor but I’ve made it crystal clear to him that the Super Soaker must NOT be used on cats in front of Oliver Fern since Oliver is too young to understand the difference between cruelty to animals and giving darn fleabagging felines what they deserve. I’ve had to laugh a few times this Spring when I was talking to our next door neighbor who momentarily interrupted whatever conversation we were having to yell at his cat Pumpkin who was shitting in his vegetable garden. Karma is a big fat housecat turd, Mark! I’ve been chasing Pumpkin out of Dodge for years, I used to be fond of him before we got Lucy. He’d invite himself over and take naps on our bed (he preferred my pillow). He’s really just a big stinker, now. If he’s not pooping in our yard he’s stalking innocent, witless baby birds.

It was an eventful, exhausting day. I had the boys by myself tonight because Diana was working late. Adam was a humongous help with Oliver Fern, I have to reward him somehow, specifically for tonight. He’s a wonderful big brother.

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