Marja-Leena Rathje
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a little ennui




May I blame our cold, wet late spring for a little blog and personal ennui? I have many things I've wished to write but haven't felt the energy. The recent sunnier days have given me incentive to get outdoors to make a tiny dent into the always daunting list of spring garden jobs but to the neglect of this blog. Photos are a copout in those times so here are a few shots taken over a week ago, on a cloudy but dry day. It feels good to add some colour to these pages. The pale pink is the first of my several camellia shrubs to bloom, usually in January, but this year about two months late and now leaving a carpet beneath. Then comes the white (also finishing), the medium pink is opening, and last is the red, yet to come.

Well, sunshine beckons me outdoors, I need some colour on my cheeks too! I hope for an easing of the cold winds coming off the snow topped mountains which have been continuing to get more snow and even reopened for spring skiing. It is the week leading up to Easter, also late this year. May yours be sunny, warm and bright.

Marja-Leena | 18/04/2011 | 23 comments
themes: Canada and BC


they are late! ours are almost gone, there's a pair of red ones down in the garden which are quite lovely, but the pink one at the top of the garden is most unfortunately placed, and a really gaudy shade. i'm afraid i want to dig it up and move it whenever i see it, and now that the pink is mixed with brown, i have to resist the impulse to shake it! the children were amazed when i granted them permission to pick as many blossoms as they liked. when the bright puffy yellow flowers appeared on a bush behind it, the effect caused me some agony. if it belonged to me i'd have relocated it weeks ago. xx

Since it's our first spring here I have no clue whether fine days are late or not but there've definitely been some much colder than I've become used to in April - like this past weekend when it suddenly looked and felt like February again. I understand and sympathize with your ennui. I don't even like camellia very much (you do not want to track the spent blooms into your house) but the sight of these blushing pinkly back at me is a treat.

Elisa, I can't imagine a pink that is so unpleasant. Joys of being a renter, I suppose. The blooming time is so short really that it will be tolerable the rest of the year.

Susan, adjusting to a new climate does take time. I remember when we moved to Vancouver - it was in November and we'd just left a full bitterly cold winter up north. I felt as if we'd gone back to fall, and kept expecting some kind of winter, but no, already in January things were coming up in the ground - most disorienting!

As for the camellias, I do like them very much for being evergreen and that they were not in prairie gardens... but for the mess. In most spots, like the pale pink in the forest garden, it can stay there underneath all the shrubs, but the darker pink overlooks a rock garden where the small plants get buried quickly - so much backbreaking work to keep gathering those blossoms by hand over several weeks. Planted by the previous owner, we probably should have moved it, as well as the red one which is under a window next to the house and has to be constantly pruned hard to keep it down to size. Too big now to move.

Adjusting in the other direction has taken a certain toll on my sense of well-being. I was afraid of Vancouver being too enormous and expensive but Halifax is both a little too quiet and equally dear if one wants to live within walking distance of groceries and amenities. I've been feeling somewhat sad and rootless in a hard ground winter climate that can't quite end.

I can well understand your feelings about inherited camellias as there was a forest of them in the courtyard of our first Portland apartment. The roses, however, were magnificent. I spent many a happy hour sniffing my way along lush city garden blocks. Did you know rose bushes protect themselves by poisoning the ground around them? If one is removed to allow for different plantings you must remove a yard of soil.

Susan, you have moved from a warmer winter clime to a colder one, to another country which is similar yet very different (especially in politics!), and have left behind roots and friends, so what you are feeling is understandable and normal, especially later in life, so just give it time. I'm surprised that you say Halifax is "equally dear" to Vancouver, the most expensive city in the country.

As for roses, Portland's are famous. I did not know they poison the soil around them! Then how come I have spring bulbs and poppies and many weeds underneath? Of course, I haven't tried to plant anything else in their place, except to replace dead roses with new roses.

My house in South Carolina was surrounded by giant post oaks and sasanquas and camellias... Felt rather homesick looking at these.

I thought of camellias for the first time in a long time when I woke up this morning--suddenly had a vivid memory of a winter funeral in Georgia with the hanging moss in the trees and vivid, blood-red camellias in bloom.

I made a mistake in not specifying that a new rose bush shouldn't be planted in the place of an old one without replacing the soil as the new roses will most likely die. Here's one article I found about soil sickness.

Thanks for your wise words about allowing time to go by while I adjust. I do feel like I abandoned friends and I feel so bad every time I read another article about how human services are being destroyed rather than the military. I like Canada but I have no illusions.

Marly, South Carolina sounds lovely! I've never been - is it similar to the area around New Orleans or Atlanta, the only two old South regions I've been to? And what an eery though colourful dream - will it re-emerge in one of your stories or poems?

Susan, thanks for the link to that article. It makes sense to change out the soil, I usually do that with any new planting. I had to replace a few new roses that didn't do well about two or three years after we re-landscaped our front yard due to a renovation. Their replacements are now about 20 years old, one is not doing well anymore, so I must have changed the soil. Will remember this when I decide to refresh the stock! As for Canada, I'm quite upset about our current government and hope it changes after May 2nd!

Oh, geesh, now I've added 'gardening' to my list of eclectic and non-art topics on this blog!

A little blogging ennui is no bad thing once outside attractions beckon! Growth happens so quickly at this time of year, it is a real shame to miss anything - even tho' we've seen it last year and the years before. Somehow it always feels fresh.

I'm with Elisa on horrid pinks which look even worse as they decay. They somehow always distract the eye too, no matter how much one tries to avoid looking at them. But as you say, they pass quickly.

We put in our first camellia this year, a wonderful shaded pink - pale pink is really my favourite for them, I'm not crazy about the red ones, which always look a bit waxy to me a bit tawdry as they fade and brown. Anyway, it's wilted in the weird April heatwave we're having! I love the warmth and sun this early, but the dryness is a worry.

Olga, yes, must take advantage of a dry day to get outdoors this time of year - to enjoy as well as clean up and prepare for summer plantings. The fading brown on camellia blossoms seems worst on the white one to my eye. Ah well, we take the beauty with the bad sometimes.

Lucy, it seems to me there are hundreds of variations in the camellias including colours. My red happens to be my favourite but that's the one that keeps getting its tops chopped off being in the wrong location. No blossoms this year sadly after a major pruning a little late in the season last year. A heatwave in April is no fun, just when there's so much to do in the garden. We've sometimes had those, where it seems like the weather jumps from cold to hot, without the gentle transition that I need to work in. Hope you aren't into a severe drought over there in Brittany!

olga, exactly. clashing pink, decaying, it's painful. it makes me cringe like bad theatre. the rhododendron that's appeared, on the other hand, is majestic, and i hope it will last a long time, the perfect shades of pink. x!

Elisa, a rhododondron in bloom already!? Not yet in my garden....

Yes, add gardening! Why not?

Mmm, don't know. I have lots of images in my head from that funeral. I always went to Georgia every summer, but only in winter when there were funerals.

They're all different, and even South Carolina is varied. My house was in the upstate, which is the foothills of the North Carolina mountains--higher, cooler. Charleston is another great Southern city, very beautiful. You would think it somewhat like those two cities.

Marly, so many lovely places in the world I'd love to see but would need several lifetimes, more energy (and $$$) to visit them all! I suppose I'm too content at home too.

Elisa, my rhododendron is in full bloom too - it is a miniature, pink, and the blossoms are about 1cm across. Delightful.

Olga, you too? How about a photo on your blog? I have a small flowered mauve rhodo that is usually the earliest blooming but it's late.

We had a camellia in our home in Oregon. It was lovely, but rain always destroyed the blossoms, just as you show. We had one in our yard here, too, but we took it out, because it never bloomed well.
We had splended rhodedendrons in Oregon, too, in very delicate colors. One of them was white and had a nice scent, something we don't ordinarily associate with rhodies.
One thing I love in our Hilo yard is our azalias, which I should take a picture of. And our gardenias, now in bloom.

Our first beautiful spring day finally arrived, and I've just come inside. Nothing bright and colourful to be seen yet (only green goose poop). But the blue, cloudless sky was magnificent.

Hattie, I didn't know you lived in Oregon as well, you've sure lived in many places. Camellias, rhododendrons and azaleas are common here as they are in western Oregon, but I'm not familiar with what grows in Hawaii. Interesting that azaleas do fine but I'm envious of gardenias, they are here only as houseplants.

Rouchswalwe, blue cloudless skies are wonderful, aren't they? (Much better than that green stuff) We've been having a few more of those days lately so let's hope it keeps up!

Ennui: Weariness and dissatisfaction resulting from lack of interest or boredom. Doesn't sound like you but you could have been using the French version which has a wider set of meanings. When we moved into the French house there was a leak and I asked a woman at the town hall to recommend a plumber. She rang up the heroic M. Chauvel (about whom I blogged muchly in the early days) and she reported to him I was suffering from ennuis with my lav. Mind you that definition above exactly describes my attitude towards work in the garden and is the reason why we now employ a gardener. From what you say it sounds as if the garden is far too big in which case I can recommend a neat solution: bricks!

BB, ennui as in weariness, tiredness from insomnia and too much to do this time of year! Can't afford a gardener though I still love to garden and we're not yet ready to move to a smaller place as yet. We already have lots of brick paths, patios and driveway to sweep too. Love the French version of ennui, heh. Anyway, onward!