Plum Dreaming

On Monday, I received the greengage plum trees to replace those that didn’t make it through last winter. Yesterday, my contractor finally sent someone to help me plant them. (Meaning the “someone” did all the work; I just held the trees upright to make sure they weren’t out of plumb.) These two trees seem much stronger than the previous batch, which is good because the poor things are certainly dealing with a lot of transplant trauma right now. First, they had to deal with the trauma of being uprooted. Then they were packaged and sent halfway across the country. After sitting here in the cold for two days, they were put to rest in their new, permanent home. And then came snow.

The poor things really are having to deal with a lot, but luckily, they are still dormant, and even luckier, they don’t have to go through an entire winter — after all, despite the wintry weather, spring will be here in ten days.

It’s supposed to snow again tonight, but I can’t imagine the additional snow will make any difference. At this point, I’ve done all I could. They are on their own.

Meantime, I am dreaming of a time when I can pick a plum from my tree. The place where Jeff and I lived had a whole thicket of greengage plums, and they were by far the best fruit I’d ever eaten. (Think of the sweetest plum you’ve ever eaten, the most perfect apricot, combine them, add a hint of lime and you have the food of the gods — greengage plums.)

When I was in California, a friend brought me a bunch of greengages from her tree, and they were terrible. In retrospect, they weren’t that bad, I suppose, but they weren’t at all like “my” greengages.

I have no idea what the plums I just planted will be like. These trees are grafted to a black plum root, where mine weren’t, which is why I had a whole thicket of the plum trees — the “volunteers” that sprang from the roots grew wildly in that uncultivated field, and that is something that can’t happen with these trees. The soil, too, is different here, so who knows what I will end up with.

If the trees grow, and if they blossom, and if the blossoms become fruit, and if there are any plums left for me after the birds feast on the fruit . . .

That’s a lot of “if”s between now and a possible harvest. If, after all that, they are no good, well, there’s always plum jam. Or I could simply leave them for the birds.

But that’s a problem for another time. For now, I will be satisfied with healthy trees that can survive this mutable climate, though I can’t help dreaming of the delectable plums I once knew.


What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Garden Surprises

I was cleaning away weeds this morning when I discovered a patch of mushrooms. It’s always a treat — and a surprise — to find any sort of mushroom or toadstool in Colorado due to the generally dry climate. But so far, this spring has been anything but dry.

Although most of my wild roses are gone for the year, I did find a couple of yellow roses still clinging to their branches — another lovely surprise!

Then there is the candy bouquet flowers that I planted in a hanging pot. I doubt it’s the best place for the plant when it comes to enough sun or shade, but so far, it seems to be doing well.

And the final surprise is the new growth on the green-gage plum tree. The tree was a six foot tree, but except for a small sprout near the graft, the tree died.

I don’t really want to get another six-footer to plant in its place because this one seems to be doing well, but then, if I’d wanted a six-inch tree, I could have paid a whole lot less for the tree. For now, I’m just waiting to see what happens. I wonder if I could root the twig when it gets older so I can have my six-inch tree as well as a replacement 6-foot tree? I’m not sure why the tree needed to be grafted in the first place. Maybe because it’s really a bush? There’s so much to learn!

Luckily, I have the time to figure it all out.


What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Vehicle Repair and Other Woes

Although most people who get the current vaccines have no troubles, others get sick with mild flu-like symptoms, some end up in the hospital with blood clots, and others end up feeling worse than they did when they had The Bob.

This is what happened to my mechanic and why he wasn’t available to put the new ignition in my car yesterday when I showed up for an appointment. He’s feeling better, and I now have a new appointment. Maybe, finally, we’ll (I say “we,” but I mean “he”) get the car back on the road.

The only other news for today is that I contacted the orchard where I bought my greengage plum trees because of a suggestion someone left on my blog about the trees not doing well. I’d considered just letting the new growth at the base of the tree take over, but she said to check to make sure the trees weren’t grafted onto a different root stock. It turns out that yes, they are. Luckily, there is a bit of growth above the rootstock.

I took photos of the trees and sent them to the company as I was instructed. Now I just have to wait to see if they have any suggestions. One of the trees is unimportant. Well, all trees are important. I mean it’s unimportant in my landscaping scheme. In fact, I’m not sure I actually want it where it is, but if I can keep it alive, that will be good, too. The other one that is not doing well is definitely where I want it, so if it can’t be helped, I will order a replacement. (They only replace trees at their expense if there is no green.) Either way, there are no trees to order right now — according to the woman I talked to, they won’t be opening the site for orders until June. That gives me a month to see what I can do with the trees I now have.

I’d be more concerned about my care of the trees, but the third tree is doing well; it even has a couple of blossoms! So I’m hoping it was just the luck of the draw and they my trees didn’t commit hari-kari to get away from me.

It looks as if the danger of frost is minimal from here on, so as soon as my car is drivable, I’ll go on a hunt for bedding flowers and hanging plants. If nothing else, they will give myself something else to worry about.


What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

My Poor Trees

Last fall I planted three six-foot greengage plum trees that were advertised as orchard-size so they could potentially have blossoms the first year, but only one of them seems to be doing okay. The other two are still alive, though most of the branches are dry and brittle. The growth is coming from the bottom of the trees. It’s surprising to me that the tree that got the most moisture during the winter is the one that seems to be having the most trouble. It’s next to the sidewalk that extends from the house to the garage, so when I shoveled the snow, I dumped it around the base of the tree. That tree actually doesn’t matter so much — it was an extra tree I bought for a gift and then the giftee decided he didn’t want it because he was going to move, so I planted the extra tree in my yard. The only place to put it wasn’t a good location from my standpoint because if the tree ever grew fruit, the fruit would make a mess of my sidewalk. Still, it does show signs of life, so that’s something.

The other tree that’s not doing well is where I really wanted a tree, toward the back of the property. It too is showing signs of life, though also only toward the base. I’d purposely bought the biggest trees I thought I could handle because I didn’t want to go through those first six or seven years of growing a tree from the ground up, though it looks like that’s going to happen after all. Oh, well. I did everything I could, followed all the directions (which isn’t something I normally do — I have a terrible habit of just winging it), so there’s no use worrying about it.

I’ll just wait and see what happens. If necessary, I’ll try getting another tree, maybe a smaller one. Or not. I just checked the website, and they are sold out of all sizes.

Now, if the trees had been crossed with dandelions, I could have kept them alive. One of the few things I seem to be able to grow is dandelions.


What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

For the Birds

Once upon a time, I set out to learn bird names, but when it dawned on me that these are the names humans gave them, not what the birds call themselves, and that the names don’t tell the inner truth of birdness, I lost interest.

Still, yesterday when I noticed a distinctive bird fighting for space with a blue jay at my neighbor’s birdfeeder, I wanted to know what I was seeing. The bird was black with red wings, so that’s what I googled — red-winged black bird. I had to laugh — out loud, in fact — at the name of the bird. It’s called the red-winged black bird. That sure told me a lot about the bird! I don’t know what I was expecting — an exotic name of some sort, something other than the obvious, though I shouldn’t have since birds are often described by color: blue jay, robin red breast, goldfinch.

Apparently, the red-winged black bird is one of the more common birds in this country, though I only remember seeing it a couple of times, but that’s not saying much. They could be where I’m not. For example, when I was growing up in Denver, robins were a frequent sight, but when I moved to the western slope of Colorado, I’d be lucky to see one every two or three years.

(Speaking of Denver — I just read that it’s tenth on the list of most rat-infested cities. Rats? In Denver? There weren’t rats when I was there, at least none that I’d ever heard of.)

I’d ordered a couple of greengage plum trees to be delivered at the appropriate time for planting this fall, and I just got notification that they will be coming in the next couple of days. It should be fun digging holes in the snow! Well, no. Not fun. But if it warms up enough by the time the trees get here, the extra moisture might make it easier to dig.

Although greengage plums where I lived on the western slope were the best plums I’ve ever eaten, I realize that the soil here might give them a different taste. (A friend in California gave me some when I was there, and they were nothing like the ones I grew.) And I realize I will mostly be planting them for the birds. Assuming the trees survive and assuming they flower and assuming the blossoms don’t freeze in the unpredictable Colorado spring and assuming the blossoms produce plums and assuming the fruit tastes the way I hope it will taste, the chances of my finding any that the birds have left alone is quite slim.

Still, birds need to eat. And who knows, the fruit might attract another exotic bird like the red-winged black bird.


“I am Bob, the Right Hand of God. As part of the galactic renewal program, God has accepted an offer from a development company on the planet Xerxes to turn Earth into a theme park. Not even God can stop progress, but to tell the truth, He’s glad of the change. He’s never been satisfied with Earth. For one thing, there are too many humans on it. He’s decided to eliminate anyone who isn’t nice, and because He’s God, He knows who you are; you can’t talk your way out of it as you humans normally do.”

Click here to order the print version of Bob, The Right Hand of God
Click here to purchase the Kindle version of Bob, The Right Hand of God.


There are so many things I just don’t want in my life any more, such as outraged celebrities and millionaire sports figures telling me how put-upon they are and how evil the rest of us are because we don’t see that we are privileged and they are not.

Um. No. Just . . . no.

As much as I struggle learning to garden and take care of a yard, it’s so much . . . cleaner . . . than what’s out there in the rest of the world. No one has ever become so outraged they burned down a city because someone killed a plant. No plant association has ever intimidated people to join political organizations with public agendas that are actually different than the ones they privately espouse. (Well, that’s not exactly true. Although many supposedly earth friendly organizations don’t come after potential members with firepower, they do tend to blackmail folks, telling them if they don’t join, the world’s trees will all die, the bees will all die, and ultimately, we will all die. But at least they do this via mail rather than sticking a fist in our faces or burning down our neighborhoods.)

My property feels like a haven from the insanities of the world, and maybe someday it will even look that way. I’d ordered some live plants that came in today, hoping I will have better luck with them than I did with bulbs and such. These plants are vines that will, ideally, twine up my as yet unfinished gazebo. Unlike with bare root plants, I don’t have to scurry to plant these poor wilted things. It’s okay to leave them in the shade for a few days to let them get acclimated to the area and to recover from their traumatic trip. (The box they came in was smashed up, so much so that I’m surprised it got here at all.)

I have the plants sitting next to my seedling forest for the next few days, hoping all the plants will enjoy one another’s company. (A couple of the Kentucky coffeetree seedlings are having second thoughts about the move and seem to want to fade away.)

My luck with live plants is so-so. Some die, like almost all those I bought last year. Some live, but don’t grow. (Although they were bare root plants rather than in pots, four of the five lilacs I planted are alive but haven’t grown even a fraction of an inch all summer.) Some do well, such as the hen and chick succulents I ordered a couple of months ago.

(Oddly, the free one they sent in case one of those I paid for didn’t do well, is thriving. The others are doing okay so far.)

I still haven’t ordered any Greengage plum trees, but there’s no hurry since they wouldn’t be sent for another few months. (The house where Jeff and I lived had a grove of Greengages, and oh, they were the absolutely best-tasting fruit ever, the sort of things the gods would save for themselves.)

I’m never sure how many of any plant to order. If I order two trees, and one doesn’t grow, then I’m out of luck for another year. If I get three and all three grow, then I would have to remove one, which wouldn’t please me at all. (I should be so lucky to have that problem!)

Problems such as these seem so innocent, considering what is going on in other parts of the country. Although I might not be able to fix gardening problems, at least I can understand them, which is more than I can say for the problems that light up the news. Though even those are understandable to a certain extent. People seem to be addicted to outrage, and the more outrage there is, the more outrage there will be since outrage seems to feed upon itself.

It’s . . . outrageous.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator