A few of my favorite things (1)...

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It's summertime, so how 'bout a little diversion? Mary Lee and I get quite a bit of joy out of God's good earth and its lawns, bushes, trees, and gardens. Mary Lee does the perennial gardens, I cut the grass, and we both work on the other stuff (fruit trees, roses, berries, vegetables, etc.) Here then are a few of our favorite things.

Arbor Day: over the years, we've planted about 150 bare root trees and shrubs purchased from Arbor Day. The trees are inexpensive. If you take out a membership, you can buy shrubs and trees for between $5 and $10. Some of their trees are available in bulk, 50 for $40. At this price, I don't get all tense about keeping them alive, so somewhere less than half survive a full year. But that's many trees and bushes so that, by now, our yard has lots of trees and bushes that started as tiny whips. A few are over fifteen feet tall now. We've planted red oak, red maple, magnolia, sawtooth oak, cherry, apple... 

peach, lilac, forsythia, weeping willow, thuja green giant, boxwood, azalea, and several kinds of evergreen shrubs.

Nourse Farms: raspberries are Mary Lee's favorite thing in the world and both of us love asparagus. We have about sixty feet of four varieties of raspberries and about ten asparagus plants of two varieties—all from Nourse. Yummy!

Heirloom Roses: we love roses, but since we're in a very hot and humid area, non-heirloom roses don't do so well. Black spot is constant, so rather than spraying all the time, we now buy disease-resistant roses from Heirloom. Wonderfully beautiful! No more spindly testimonies to my lack of discipline spraying them with these babies. And what beauties sit in our bud vases in the kitchen and dining room! Honestly, after growing up with dozens of rose bushes from Jackson Perkins, all hybrid teas, I've come to like the appearance of the non-hybrids even better. (We added the rose CL Iceberg pictured at the top of the post to our garden this year.)

Swan Island Dahlias: the Manchester by the Sea estate I worked on as a gardener while I was in seminary was out on Smith's Point overlooking Lobster Cove and it had a formal rose and dahlia garden beautifully cared for by the godly older man I was privileged to work beside, Enoch. So in memory of that garden and its master gardener, Enoch, we have a few dahlias. I'm no Enoch, though, so our dahlias are pathetic.

Perennials: speaking for myself, I'm partial to clematis (we pronounce it "cleMATis" and it climbs our fence and mailbox), poppies (my favorite perennial), columbine, wisteria (smell), honeylocust (smell), and bleeding heart.

Tire swings: we used to have two tire swings hanging from thirty or so feet of heavy rope tied in the high branches of one majestic elm tree. Then tragedy struck. One spring the bark exploded and two weeks later our elm was dead. We still have a couple swings, but nothing like what we used to have. Now the swings are kids-play, but the tire swings were man-play. Hanging from the same tree and rope thick enough to hold 700 pounds, we had swing battles. Dude! Almost as good as M-80s, potato guns, and carbide canons.

Fruit trees: we have a peach tree, cherry tree, and a couple apple trees—all planted bare root. Sadly, we have yet to pick fruit from any of them. The last two years we've had hundreds of acorn-size peaches growing, but before they ripen, a combination of natural fruit drop and racoons clean them off and we don't end up getting even a single peach. This year we'll be getting some apples, though.

Felco 2 Pruning Shears: we love our thirty-year-old Felco No. 2. I sharpened the blade recently with this handy tool. The leather holster is a nice add-on. Check out the reviews. It's rare you'll find 829 reviewers all giving a tool five-stars.

Ferris 3200Z ZTR Mower: cutting acres and acres of very rough ground, we love our Ferris mower. We chose the Vanguard V-Twin engine. It was a good choice since, at the time, the Kawasakis were throwing rods. Between our neighbor's grass, Doug and Heather's grass, our grass, the grass along the side of the road out of our tiny subdivision, and the grass out by the state highway, we cut around fifteen acres a week. My son-in-law, Doug, and I share the ownership of the mower and split the gas and parts and repairs. (That is, unless one of us is really stupid as I was recently when I bent one of the wheel supports and paid for the repair myself.)

European style SEP Walking Tractor: years ago, we bought an old used SEP European style walking tractor (pic on right) to be our roto-tiller. The tiller is about 36" wide and is drive-shaft driven, so tilling with it bears no resemblance to tilling with all the other roto-tillers I've had to use through the years. At long last I'm not being yanked around by a loud bronco tearing around my garden trying to buck me off! I can guide this one with one hand. Good luck finding one used, though. And if you're wondering, I don't think they're worth buying new just for roto-tilling. But if you're interested, Earth Tools out of Owenton, Kentucky has been very helpful and no one in the US knows more about European style two-wheel tractors.

1993 Toyota Extended Cab Pickup (4X4): son Taylor is the world's most insane Tacoma fanman, so he found this thing for sale and told us to buy it. Best buy in the world. Doug and I also share the ownership of the pickup. It was cheap to buy and it costs very little in upkeep and repairs. Year after year, it just keeps purring and purring. When the moon is full, I go out and sing it songs of love and desire—all the songs Taylor taught me.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and big lots of grandchildren.

Want to get in touch? Send Tim an email!