We’ve had a series of beautiful days. Cool and crisp in the mornings but warming just enough midday for shirtsleeves. I’ve seen folks in shorts and flip-flops. I’m not one of them. We outdoor workers need to be on the alert for brambles and poison ivy.

I think we are in the middle of high spring. People are out and about, tending their gardens. There are some beautiful flowering shrubs. In the 1950s, it became popular to have foundation plantings around houses. This was partly to hide the unattractive cinder block stone work. The trend continues to this day in landscape world.

I’m not a fan of bushes too close to the house. For starters they grow and rub on the shingles. They allow bugs and fungus to invade.

Worst of all is the popular trend nowadays to have no gutters. Granted, everyone hates to clean them. Unless a border of gravel is installed at the drip line, dirt and/or mulch splashes on the house and exposes the roots of shrubs.

All that being said, I am also not fond of the same boring thing around the entire area, i.e. boxwoods or hydrangea. Here are some of my favorites:

Weigela is blooming right now but should not be cut into a hedge. It is lovely in its fountain form. The same is true of the bridal wreath spirea.

The flowers of andromeda are beginning to fade but it was of interest in early spring.

The yellow leaf elderberry is quite striking and will draw the eye to an area one wishes to highlight. Birds love the fall fruit.

There are many forms of viburnum: some are plain now but have beautiful berries in the fall. One example is the American cranberry bush. It has flat-topped white flowers in May and then brilliant red fruits in fall, also loved by birds.

In my opinion the best right now is Shasta viburnum. Many have them blooming now. The flowers cover the tops of all the branches.

A sweet little bulb is the star of Bethlehem, aka ornithogalum. It spreads like crazy so proceed with caution. Also for those with small children: it is toxic.

A few years ago I grew some cotton. I babied it all winter and put it out after danger of frost. It was an interesting plant with nice flowers but nary a bol was produced. At the same time I decided to grow some plants that could be used as natural dyes. I started a flat of woad. It blooms yellow, is about three feet tall and is used to dye fabric blue. You want to talk spreading: baby plants get weeded out by the armload.

Speaking of spreading . . . about 20 years ago I made a vegetable garden for a customer. She changed it to just flowers after a year. A few garlic bulbs were overlooked. Now there is an area about twenty by ten with solid garlic. It’s packed so tight that it will never produce a proper bulb but we’ve been pulling it for “spring garlic.” The little bulbs are marble sized. I cleaned a couple of handsful of them and stuffed them into a chicken.

They still had an inedible skin but we squished out the paste and slatered it on each bite of chicken. Wonder if life gets much better?

Because my vegetable garden has more than its fair share of voles, they have become hosts to dog ticks. I’m picking them from skin and checking daily. I’m trying to look on the bright side: at least they are not the deer or lone star variety.

I was all set to carry on about the hypocrisy of the Great Replacement theory. You know: how it was perfectly fine for white Europeans to replace the North American native peoples at the beginning of our nation’s history but now that the demographics are shifting, it’s an entirely different story.

Then as I write this on Tuesday we have yet another school mass shooting. When will this ever ben enough for some of our politicians to say no to the big bucks they get from the NRA gun lobby? I’m talking to you Ted Cruz and John Cornyn. Your state has nearly 20 dead babies this week — second and third graders.

Texas has no background checks and folks can wander around carrying guns willy-nilly.

I have guns, grew up with guns and had to have background checks and meet with the police chief. What’s the big deal? Most gun owners have no problem any more than getting a driver’s license. Something needs to change. I’m sick of this recurring story.