The recent heat wave may have been a bit extreme, but at this moment I’m sitting inside with a blanket pulled up to my chin. It’s not that I’m feeling under the weather. Instead, I’m feeling the weather. I think when the heat wave broke, it also broke summer. Clouds, rain, and cool temperatures have been the order of the day. The last few days, actually.
What’s a cold gardener to do?
Green is the color of comfort, at least it is for me. It’s the color — whether it’s during a mid-winter trip to Florida or those early days of spring or those boiling days of summer — that holds me and comforts me, cradles me and soothes me. It’s as if green pulls me close and says, “I’m here. I’ve returned. I didn’t abandon you. Just breathe. . .”
I am so distracted these days, and spring is to blame. There’s the smell of freshness on the breeze, the chirps and calls of birds in the morning, and the daily display of fifty shades of green. All I want to do is work in the yard: clean the beds, rake the lawn, bring out the terracotta pottery, inhale deeply — but I do have a day job that demands much of my time and a post to write.
Writing, though, is near impossible. Spring stimulates all of my senses, and each time I step outside, I am overwhelmed with words, feelings, and adjectives. Rather than write them down, they swirl inside my head as I become lost in the intoxicating world that is spring.
And so, I surrender to those who have already placed their words on paper, words that illustrate the beauty of the gardener’s most magical season.
It seems that quite suddenly, summer has brought the entire world into bloom — and that means hosting a whole bunch of guests to a bloomin’ banquet. There’s plenty to eat and drink — so, bring a chair, sit back, and relax.
First up: butterflies. I’m not sure what type of butterfly this is, but the garden is full of them. They really don’t socialize with the other guests, and can often be found in pairs, fluttering about in mid-air and playing among the lavender.
When children recite, “Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?” perhaps a more appropriate question would be, “From where does your garden grow?” That’s the question I ‘m asking myself this Columbus Day weekend after reading the best-selling new book 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created, by Charles C. Mann. This meticulously researched book examines the world after Columbus set foot in North America.
While Columbus certainly has his critics, there can be no mistaking that his arrival in the New World placed the entire world on the globalization frontier. The author’s position is that much of what we enjoy today can be traced back to what he calls the Columbian Exchange, a means of moving plants and seeds and animals from one part of the world to another part. It is why, for example, that tomatoes arrived in Italy and citrus arrived in Florida. So much of what we take for granted wasn’t always so; and much of it would not be if Columbus had not set the process in motion.
I myself am a bit of a mutt: English, Scottish, German, French, and Italian. My paternal ancestors arrived in North America in 1675; my maternal great-grandfather entered through Ellis Island. While this is my gene pool, I wonder just how diverse and worldly is my garden?
Thanks to the Internet and Google, I learned that what I plant has traveled a long way to be planted. In fact, my garden could be a lesson for world leaders seeking peace. Although it heavily favors Asia and Central and South Americas, there is little conflict in plants from many lands successfully sharing common ground. (Note to self: bring Australia into the mix, but wait until full-out global warming for Antarctica to come into bloom.)
And to think my melting pot only took 518 years — and still counting — to plant.
Happy Columbus Day — and enjoy the weekend in the garden.
A few years ago, I purchased Little Grapette. This one bloomed and it's clearly not a Little Grapette, but who cares?
A few years ago, I began to toy with daylilies — or rather, daylilies began to toy with me.
As a child, I remember seeing orange daylilies everywhere. Yard after yard was filled with their stalks and their orange gift at the end. After the bloom, it was nothing but blades of foliage. In my mind, they were ordinary.
About 17 years ago, I happened to be watching Martha Stewart’s original television show and on it, she profiled Sydney Eddison. My memory of that segment is of the two women — Martha
At last, Little Grapette makes an appearance.
towering above the older Ms. Eddison — walking through the guest’s daylily border. I believe the segment was timed quite nicely with a daylily spread in Martha’s magazine. I remember being stunned by the variety of color, heights, and bloom times. These were not your grandmother’s daylilies. I was sold. Continue reading