When In Rome, Clip As The Romans Do


Let’s be honest.  Gardening is fun — but is it always a good time?  Is there anything about gardening — like certain chores, for example — that isn’t enjoyable?  Anyone care to share?

Okay, I’ll go first.

I’ll begin with my second to least favorite chore because that will lead quite nicely to my absolute least favorite.  I despise trimming shrubs.  I’ve done it, of course, usually with one of those old-fashioned handheld clippers.  No power tools for me.

Apparently, though, I learned how to trim from the same school where my father was taught how to cut my sister’s bangs when she was a kid.  First, you cut this way — but it looks uneven.  Then you cut again.  Still uneven.  And so on and so on — eventually leaving my sister with a row of fringe at the start of her hairline.

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Bloomin’ Update 46: Mum’s The Word


Mum is actually just one of the words that comes to mind this weekend.  The other word is menopause.

The calendar says October, but the tenth month seems to be experiencing an August-worthy hot flash.  The heat and humidity combined with the fall colors, as well as a rain deficit here, feels a little odd — but it hasn’t stopped the mums from doing their thing.

Nor did it stop this gardener from taking a walk with his camera.

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The Writes Of Autumn

Sun Dial

“I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house.”
— Nathaniel Hawthorne, The American Notebooks

Now that the new school year has started, reading — both books and blogs — is one of those joys that get pushed aside.  But I’ve decided to make the effort.  That’s why I picked up Colm Toibin’s The Testament of Mary, a short book that tackles a very big subject: the latter years of the Blessed Mother.

In between her recollections of her actions during her Son’s life, there was one passage that jumped from the page, a paragraph that captured me at this change of seasons.

“I do not often leave the house.  I am careful and watchful; now that the days are shorter and the nights are cold, when I look out the windows I have begun to notice something that surprises me and holds me.  There is a richness in the light.  It is as if, in becoming scarce, in knowing that it has less time to spread its gold over where we are, it lets loose something more intense, something that is filled with shivering clarity.”

Why was Mary staying in the house?  Why was light so important to her?  Could it be that Mary suffered from Seasonal Affect Disorder, also known as SAD?  I know I do.  When the sun goes down, my SAD goes up.

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Scenes From A Sunday Afternoon


It’s been a week since a flock of grackles descended in the trees around my home and unleashed a hailstorm of acorns.  I have since learned that acorns are one of the species’ culinary favorites, especially as the iridescent birds begin their migration south.

That being said, they aren’t very neat or efficient eaters.  In fact, I don’t think the ’80s band A Flock of Seagulls could have caused this much of a mess in their hotel room, not even during the height of their popularity.

Seven days since their arrival — that’s seven days filled with more grackles, squirrels, and wind — the driveway and path looked as if they were the end-result of some slapstick comedy routine — you know, the one where an innocent passerby (me, for example) slips on some casually placed marbles (or acorns, as the case may be), so that the prankster (or grackle) can have a few laughs.

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That’s A Wrap!

I hope you don’t mind, but in honor of Thanksgiving, I’m offering some leftovers — in the form of a repost.  I’ve reworked it a bit to make it more palatable, but the gist is the same: a couple of crazy Long Islanders will do just about anything to give their yard a tropical look.  Besides, it’s way to cold and blustery today — too cold to hold the camera to redocument this process.

Enjoy — and fresh material is on its way.

I may be the gardener of the house, but Joe also has his landscape loves.  One of his greatest is palm trees.  His absolute fave is Cocos nucifera, the coconut palm.  If it were up to him, coconut palms would be growing everywhere.  We often joke that he would be to coconut palms what Johnny Appleseed was  to apples — only he would be called Joey Coconuts, which does sound a little — alright, a lot — like a character from “The Sopranos.”

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Bloomin’ Update 35: Uncle!

Dahlia leaves didn’t appreciate the post-Sandy freeze.

This was supposed to be a post about how I kept myself occupied after Sandy while waiting for my work to resume.  Schools have been closed since the storm.

Fortunately, Joe and I had power throughout the Sandy ordeal, but the gas shortage had me staying close to home — which gave me the perfect chance to clean the yard.

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And The Beautiful Blogger Award Goes To . . .

Sandy’s opening gusts on Long Island.

Today is far from a beautiful day.  Sandy is on her way, and Joe and I have packed up the yard and we’re now inside watching fall actually fall.  Autumn foliage is falling like confetti now, as the first gusts of wind make their way to Long Island.  Flocks of birds are racing for cover; squirrels are gathering their provisions.  Even the air feels strange.  Sandy is a tropical system, but the air is chilled, as the tropics crash into a cold front.

And that’s why I find it so ironic that I’m creating a post about beautiful things.  I can think of so many things that are beautiful.  Sunsets.  Rainbows.  Dahlias.  Maybe even waves of blowing leaves on a gusty day.  But something with the words “nitty” and “gritty” and “dirt?”  No way.

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Looking Up Before Leaves Fall


What has happened to raking?

I always remember raking as a communal event, one that involved most neighbors and all members of the family in some capacity.  Give the neighbors a perfect autumn day, and they’ll give you one universal thought: “It’s cool and crisp and there isn’t a breeze – this is a perfect day for raking.”

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Autumn In Peyton Place

Indian summer is like a woman.  Ripe, hotly passionate, but fickle, she comes and goes as she pleases so that one is never sure whether she will come at all, nor for how long she will stay.

This is the quote that runs through my mind on any autumn day when summer-like temperatures breathe their last breaths – much like this past Friday when an October day, with its changing leaves and angled sunlight, seemed to conflict with the June-like temperature.

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Bloomin’ Update 34: Everybody’s Talkin’ ‘Bout Miss Thing

There is a certain sadness when I look about the waning October garden.  So many blooms have faded and turned to seed; so many leaves have dulled.

And then there are the red hot flowers, looking a bit out of place and overly made-up amid the first flush of autumn’s golds and yellows and rusts.

Celosia — a few plants from last summer reseeded themselves for this year’s garden. Surprise!

And that’s when my imagination takes hold.

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