It was a busy one, that involved kayaking, planting up, weeding, eating out on the deck, mulching the borders, barbecuing, dodging rain showers, admiring the Spring flowers, cutting the grass, and finally, crashing out on the deck on Sunday afternoon.  I’d like to say relaxing on the deck as it sounds like a very genteel and British thing to do, but the truth was we were so shattered that we pretty much collapsed into the chairs and the sun lounger and didn’t move for an hour.

Although Spring was very late to arrive in this part of the world it doesn’t take long for everything to catch up, the growth spurt in my garden has been nothing short of phenomenal, it’s amazing what a lot of rain and a bit of sun can do.  A month ago my peonies was just poking their heads out of the soil, today they’re close to 2ft high and are covered in buds.  There’s not much in the way of bare soil any more, it’s all been filled in with a hundred shades of green.

But first things first though, we were up and out on Saturday morning for our first trip to the lake, this is the latest first trip to the lake in six years.  We’ve never not got on the water in April in Michigan before, but this year the only reason we managed any kayaking in April at all was because we drove 900 miles south to South Carolina.  We’d have been chipping the ice of the lake in Michigan had we attempted any kayaking here in April.

It was a very pleasant sunny 70F out on the lake and it was so quiet, just a few fishermen and some other kayaks around.  As you can see, some of the leaves are not fully unfurled yet and a few trees haven’t opened their buds at all yet.  We saw Cranes and Herons, Painted Turtles sunning themselves on logs, lots of Swans (gave them a wide berth!), House Martins and Swallows were building nests on the old bridge where the Huron River empties into Kent Lake, and baby Geese being well protected by parents!  Next time out we’ll head under the bridge, up the river a bit and see if the Ospreys are back.  They’ve nested and raised young in the park for the last few years, we were lucky enough to see an Osprey chick last year and the year before from our kayaks.

Back on the home front I snapped a couple of photos before getting to work.  My Orchids are amazing this year and I counted a total of 13 flowers.  They’re Michigan native Lady’s Slipper Orchids, given to us by a friend after we built this house and were starting on the garden.  They had a property up North and were slowly clearing it in order to eventually build a little cottage for retirement.  They did the clearing carefully and sensitively over a number of years, bringing back native wild plants for their garden and to give to friends.  We were lucky to be given a small clump of orchids eleven years ago that have absolutely thrived in the shade of a dwarf pine tree.

I love those little twisty bits on each side of the flower!  I love these flowers too, rather Delphinium like but they’re Verbascum I grew from seed about four years ago.  They have rosettes of dark green leaves spread over the soil, but their flowers are held aloft on tall spikes about eighteen inches high.  They come in many shades and colours but for some reason my mixed packet of seeds only produced pink flowers.  They’re pretty nether the less and they come back every year for me, which is more than I can say for the Delphiniums that I’ve stopped wasting my money on.

After this little interlude I got the lawn mower out and then weeded and cut back the front borders ready for mulching the next day and then planted the peppers and some of the tomato seedlings in large tubs as the veg area is really too small for us now.  We finished the day with a shower and home made burgers on the grill, sitting out on the deck under the big sun umbrella resolutely ignoring the rain that had started to fall.

Sunday saw us at the the local superstore bright and early as they had reduced their big bags of mulch by 30%, so we took both cars down and brought back 35 bags and five bags of top soil too.  After a bit more weeding we dibbed in some petunias and marigolds we had left over from the deck tubs and pots and them began the back breaking task for the day…. unloading and laying down all the bags of mulch.  After a couple of hours I disappeared inside the house to rustle up more sustenance in the shape of fresh, homemade blueberry pancakes topped with chopped pecans, more blueberries, sliced banana in Andrews case and lashing of Maple syrup, along with a big pot of fresh coffee.

It was a very warm 80F by this point but evidence of Saturday nights rain can still be seen under the table.  Naturally after this sudden boost of both caffeine and sugar we just about passed out but soldiered gamely on, fighting the urge to take a nap, and by the end of the afternoon we had completely mulched the front and side gardens and used up all 35 bags that we’d bought that morning, and then we allowed ourselves to pass out on the deck, more from sheer exhaustion than sugar by this time though.

I’m not actually a napper unfortunately and so made some refreshing green tea to be drunk with yet more sugar in the form of store bought pastries for a treat, and brought out some stamped House Mouse and Penny Black images plus the colouring implements, but ended up reading a free herb magazine that we’d picked up somewhere along the way instead.  Still it was very pleasant sitting in the shade listening to the fountain playing and the birds singing.

A bit later after refreshing showers we cooked up some pasta with a creamy sauce, added some mushrooms and steamed broccoli and ate our dinner outside again.  It was only after all that , that I had enough energy to finally colour in some of the images, now all I have to do is find some time to make them in to cards.  And with an upcoming camping trip this weekend, tomato plants to plant out in the veg garden, basil and french beans to sow that might prove a little difficult….. especially as when I got home last night I found another fifty bags of mulch in the garage.  I just hope we don’t have to put those down before we go away on Friday too!

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