It’s been quite a while since the last post! With the weather fine and dry through most of June, we spent all our days out in the garden. Now it’s hot and humid, with a tropical storm predicted for Independence Day. It seems early for hurricanes*, but hey, I’m not a meteorologist, I’m a gardener. And so, here are pictures of the garden. Lots of color as we head into full summer!
* Hurricane Rhyme…… “June: too soon, July: stand by, August: upon us, September: remember, October: all over.”
Either a “mariner’s proverb”, or a “Carribean folk saying”, reportedly first published in “Weather Lore” by R. Inwards in 1898.
It rained a little (of course). Two large loads in the stake body and two loads in each pick up, then we set it all up and went home. Saturday started bright and early again, with a hundred or more people lined up before the gate opened at 9 am! We talked plants nonstop all day and sold most of them. Brought the leftovers back in one pickup and now we are catching up in the Botanical Garden for Commencement this weekend!
The countdown is on to Saturday, May 10th!
Come see us at the East Farm Spring Festival! The URI Botanical Gardens will be selling Annuals, Garden-dug Perennials, and vegetable seedlings. All-America selections, heirloom varieties, and more. All proceeds benefit the Botanical Gardens!
Free parking, gardening demonstrations, vendors, food, children’s activities.
Saturday May 10th, 9 am to 2 pm
First, I was reading a book called “The Signature of All Things” by Elizabeth Gilbert (my friend Jane said “You should read it! it’s all about moss!”). It sort of is, it’s about a woman who is a botanist in the early 19th century. A few days later, I was reading Botany Photo of the Day, with an entry about a plant named for a woman, Jeanne Baret (1740-1807). Baret disguised herself as a man to go on a botanizing expedition in the 1760s, on a voyage to South America, Mauritius, and Madagascar. A commenter on the BPoD post mentioned (along with names of many women botanists, who I had great fun looking up) a book titled “Merry Hall” by Beverley Nichols. The commenter said that in the book Nichols tells the story of Jeanne Baret. So then I decided to read that book. Well, it turns out that he briefly mentions the story rather than fully telling it. I read it anyway. “Merry Hall” is a gardening book in a very old-fashioned sense –Beverley Nichols bought an English estate, and hired gardeners and laborers to create his vision of the surrounding gardens. But here’s what I am getting to: Despite being written over sixty years ago, how he felt about his garden sounds remarkably like how I feel about my gardens, and perhaps how you feel about yours. Listen….
“…an important truth about the gardener’s life as opposed to the lives of other people – the fact that each new year is more startling and more rich in beauty than the one that preceded it.”
“An encore in the garden, unlike an encore in a concert hall, is almost always more exciting than the original performance; to do something for the second time in a garden is always better than doing it for the first, and the third time is better still, and the fourth and fifth, ad infinitum. Every time you push aside the damp frosty leaves…to greet the first snowdrops, the flowers seem to gleam with a purer white; and time cannot wither, nor custom stale, the beauty of (the) line about the snowdrop… ‘And hails far summer with a lifted spear’ .”
About spraying insecticides: “…perhaps there may be, somewhere in the world, somebody who is as silly as I am on these matters, someone who worries beyond all reason about the trials and tribulations of very small- -and often unalluring – creatures who are regarded by ‘normal’ people as only fit to be trodden underfoot. Though few insects are less alluring, though they are an infernal nuisance and probably a mass of germs, that is not the point. However unpleasant they maybe, God made them that way, and somehow I feel that it is all wrong to assume this role of mass torturer.”
“I believe ..if it were possible to take…a psychic photograph of a gardener, you would find that there would be ghostly tendrils growing from the tips of his fingers, and shadowy roots about his feet, and a pattern of ectoplasmic lines that linked him in a natural rhythm with the curve and sway of the branches about him. And..if this same picture were taken when he was removed from his natural environment…tendrils and roots would be starved and stunted, the rhythm broken. ‘Green fingers’… is a fact in physiology.”
“When I begin to write about flowers I lose all sense of restraint, and it is far, far too late to do anything about it. You cannot say you have not been warned.”
I would love to hear about your favorite garden writing, old or new!
Earlier this week Andy handed me a new seed catalog. I hadn’t gotten any in the mail yet and so I hadn’t started that delicious daydreaming about springtime, gardening, warm weather, and especially, seeds. So let the daydreaming begin, that’s what January is for if you’re a gardener. I adore seed catalogs; there is something so old fashioned about them. Pictures of impossibly beautiful vegetables and flowers, with over-the top-descriptions of how tasty, productive and gorgeous they are! The earliest, sweetest peas, the best tomatoes you ever had, giant pumpkins. The biggest zinnias, the tallest sunflowers, and the most fragrant sweet basil! Not to mention that seeds are one of the best investments you can make. I’m a sucker for all of it, and being a little old-fashioned myself, I like the actual paper catalog in my hand, by the woodstove, with a cup of coffee.
Last fall I emptied my two giant cookie tins full of seeds and sorted them with a critical eye. I composted any which were more than three years old, and I was surprised at how many that was. Time to buy some new seeds. I’m looking at old favorites like Benary Giant Zinnias and Northeaster Pole Beans. I’ve only gone through the Johnny’s and High Mowing catalogs…impatiently awaiting Fedco (top favorite), and Territorial (they are selling wasabi plants!) and Cook’s Garden, and Nichols…. I found many enticing new-to-me varieties: Esterina cherry tomato, (“sweeter than Sungold and resists cracking”!) Listada di Gandia Eggplant, Calypso Pickling Cucumber. Veronica Romanesco Cauliflower: stunning! Or how about Painted Lady Sweet Peas ( “This variety dates to 1737 and was planted by Jefferson at Monticello in the early 1800s.”). I have never had much luck with Sweet Peas –it gets too hot early on here –but I ‘m convinced I should try again…
As I said in this post, every year I plant seeds and every year I am thrilled and amazed when the seedlings push up through the soil. What are you daydreaming about this January?