Lilac Time

comments: 91





When she sticks her tongue out like this I just melt into a foamy puddle of butter.

For the winter squash, eggplants, and cucumbers (that Andy wants to pickle), my neighbor (who is a garden wizard) told me to build little paper (I used parchment paper) bubbles to protect them for a few weeks. We took some little tubing (that we usually use for the water dispenser in our refrigerator door) and made two little hoops on either side of each plant, then crossed two pieces of parchment paper perpendicularly over the hoops, and weighed down the edges of each piece of paper with some stones. One of the eggplants is busting out, so I (as my neighbor told me to do) cut Xs in the top of the papers, so the leaves could come out. I think the plant will be a little bit colder with that opening now; one is still completely covered, so we'll see. Contest!

My cabbages definitely have four new leaves now, and my beets each have two new leaves. All of the lettuce is really sprouting; still no sign of germination for the carrot seeds or the spinach (or hyacinth beans). My mother came over yesterday to help me take out all of the candytuft on the front wall and it's all going to good homes. It was just too big for that precious little wall. A bunch of big rocks came out of the parkway, so they're going in the bed on top of the wall now (where the candytuft was) and some sedums and succulents will make a nice little rock garden out there. Most of new sedums and succulents will come from the overplanted rock garden on the side of the driveway which is also busting out at the seams (already!).

Worried about all the naughty neighborhood cats getting into my raised beds, I thought about mulching with hazelnut shells but haven't yet. Naturally, the only cat I've seen go in there is our own eighteen-year-old dowager queen, who, though she has barely left her heated kitty bowl in five months, had no problem trotting outside and hopping right up into the first bed no problem, then looking at me like, Oh, perfect, thank you for building me my own enormous litter box — that was pretty nice of you. I went racing down the stairs toward her faster than she's seen me move in about fifteen years, causing her to do a goggle-eyed double-take when she saw me coming, like a cartoon cat, and jump out faster than I've seen her move in about four years. The whole thing just went so much differently than how she thought it was going to go, poor thing. She gave me a very dirty look, and then I explained that the hazelnut-shell option is still very much on the table. She's the type of half-human cat who understands English and likes to get good grades, but we'll see.

The lilacs are blooming; we have three bushes, and our neighbors over the back fence have one huge one. They smell like home.


You really have created such a lovely spot- with your gardens and hammock. Very inspiring.

Debbie from Illinois says: May 09, 2012 at 11:59 AM

The lilacs bloomed super early in Illinois. I just hope fall won't be early this year! :)

The protective bubbles and stone weights look like white draped tables with chairs set around them, from the angle the photo was taken. Maybe I have been looking at too many fairy gardens online.
Oh yes, kitties and freshly turned earth - ours love it.

That was so funny - your kitty tales! Made me laugh. They SOooo know what we say to them - Clover Meadow looks like she hasn't got a care in the world. She's not at all worried about the lack of activity from the carrot seeds! Our lilac is almost out, but at the moment, it's stopped raining and there's a little duck tapping at the back door 'cos its her bedtime! Sweet dreams Flora!

I love lilacs, we have 3 purple and one white in flower at the moment, heavenly.
Lots of things are very slow in the garden as it is still really cold, more March than May, but at least we have had (lots of) rain.
The most annoying pests are the wood pigeons.
Clover looks so sweet with her tongue out.
Carol xx

Nancy Confer says: May 09, 2012 at 12:26 PM

I admire your raised garden beds with the stones placed perfectly between. Maybe I can talk my husband (with my help of course) to put a few of those beds together for me. Happy gardening.

I had a cat digging up a garden bed when we lived in a community housing situation. We had good luck sprinkling ground cayenne pepper on the bed. Apparently, kitties sniff before they dig, and the cayenne discourages them. I can report that don't come back later in the season, either, to see if it's more desirable. :-)

Love your cat story. We've been clearing some land in order to extend our patio; digging out huge rocks, cutting through tree roots etc, and I swear our cat thinks it's the exact same thing. The moment my husband and older sons (ok, when I say "we", I'm the brains behind the operation) pause for breath, mattocks and spades poised, the cat runs in for a quick squat.
How do you not have great tufts of dog hair floating around your house like we do? Our pooch is not allowed on any furniture, and yet I swear between her and the cat we are breeding small fluffy animals that like to lurk in corners and under/ on furniture. Whenever you take photos of your house it looks beautifully dust and hair free.

Shelley says: May 09, 2012 at 12:53 PM

We put popsicle sticks into our raised beds to keep the cats out. Not the most attractive but once the plants grew in a bit we could take them out. It was the only thing that we got to work (the popsicle sticks poke them in the bum if they try anything).

Love your description. You might try boiling water, add a few cloves of crushed fresh garlic and let it steep. Then add a pinch of cayenne pepper. Let it all sit together until the water is cold. Then use this mixture to spritz the beds -- it won't harm the plants, rabbits, cats and squirrels don't like it (and it won't harm them), and it is organic. My Mom used this on her garden when I was a kid and it kept the plants from being grazed. Hope it helps with keeping the cats out too!

you put us all to shame with the lovely raised beds. so neat and tidy and you will be freezing, pickling and canning all summer. yummy. oh to be in that hammock under a lilac bush!

AAAAAAAAH! That quilty pillow is AMAZING. Your hammock thingamabob is GORGEOUS.

YOUR DOGGIE!!!! Corgi? Corgi mix? Do tell please! I am dog hunting for corgis or some variation thereof.

Your raised beds do look beautiful. The cat story made me laugh - our next door's cats have been using our garden as a litter tray. Someone suggested to me sprinkling dried crushed chillis around the plants as an non-toxic way to deter them. Not really sure how it works, maybe they don't like the smell?

Alicia, I can help with the "giant litter box" problem - been there. We used, on the advice of a truly great gardener, smooth oval stones as mulch around our plantings. That was the end of the littler box phenomenon. Cats don't like to walk on them - the uneven surface or something. It worked like a charm. We had tried everything else - cayenne, plastic forks with the tines sticking up, you name it.

Adorable, my dog does that too sometimes! :-)

You are so fabulous!
I love lilacs, they rarely grow here in CA, which makes me sad.
That Pfaltzgraff pitcher on the right - those were the dishes we had when I grew up - see them all the time at thrift stores and feel so nostalgic.
Thank you for sharing your lovely life!

Laura T. says: May 09, 2012 at 01:35 PM

Isn't it funny how smells can take you back in time? Every time I stick my nose into the white flowers of bridalwreath spirea, it takes me back to my childhood birthdays in the backyard. They always bloomed on my birthday, May 28, and their large, arching white branches stretched from 5 feet high right down to the ground. Such a light, pretty scent.
I recall having a tantrum and ending up in my bedroom on more than one of those birthdays. Probably because I didn't win the drop-the-clothespin-in-the-bottle-while-leaning-over-the-back-of-the-chair game. Or Bozo Buckets. I was a sensitive child. :)
Laura in Naperville, IL

i put down chicken wire in my bed, around the plants where the open spaces were, and then covered it with a light layer of mulch--enough to cover the wire but not deep enough for digging. That stopped Kitty cold. She gave me a look of disgust when she discovered it, but I think she's forgiven me. :-)

Beautiful home, beautiful garden.

We have a neighborhood cat -- interested in the hazelnut shell idea.

However, it is our neighborhood bunnies who ate the heads off the tulips...wondering what they're going to do to our lettuce and radishes!

I see several readers have suggested ideas for naughty kitties...well, here's another one...
my personal favorite and one I'd use even if our naughty neighbor with ALL her cats moved away...

Cocoa Mulch...light weigh, shells, snails don't like it smell like chocolate!!!

Home Depot...and while you're there, could you pick me up another bag? Or marshmallows?

We've had good luck with laying twigs over the beds in a cross-hatch fashion until the plants cover more of the soil. As with other suggestions, kittles don't like to walk where they don't feel they have sure footing.

Fresh turned earth is a cat magnet, isn't it? A few years back we dug a footing for a small concrete wall and before the formwork went in, our kitty spent hours sitting in could just see his ears and eye (he just has the one) above the soil line. I think he was using it as a foxhole for hunting birds.

I love your cat story. We used to have a cat that was part human too and she also liked lots of attention - even if it was for getting in trouble. I think she would've found the "garden game" a fun challenge and a great way to get attention - even if it meant getting an "F" in behavior.

Clover is so sweet. I love the little tongue thing too.


heather says: May 09, 2012 at 01:53 PM

your writing made me melt into a little foamy puddle of butter! absolutely love your descriptions... and you've now inspired me to get our hammock out too. Before reading your blog, it never dawned on me to make my hammock so cozy. LOVE your blog, skills, pictures & writing! :)

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at




Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.