Thursday, September 30, 2010

Edminster's Musings
Sept. 29, 2010

I may have to get a tame monkey as a garden helper. The developers next door have trimmed my already tall pear trees up even more & not only removed all of the mid-level branches but some of the top ones. The 2 pears have decided that while they may have half as many branches they are going to produce just as much (that's MUCH) fruit almost all out of reach, except as semi-lethal bombs during wind storms. Perfectly edible & cannable as my Polish pal Sophie and friend Jim discovered by using long-handled nets leaning over my top deck.

Check out "The Bucolic Plague" - a memoir by Josh Kilmer-Purcell which tells of 2 gay men, one a former drag queen, the other, a Martha Stewart employee (Yeah, she's in the book but there's only garden dirt. She comes off pretty well.) who move into an upstate NY abandoned historical mansion and restore it and its gardens to a working farm. Funny & bitchy.

R.I.P. One of the most prominent gardeners in the world, Wayne Winterrowd, 68 died in Vt & is survived by his spouse, Joe Eck. Their garden was world famous and they designed high-end gardens all over the continent besides writing garden books together.

Notes from my garden: I looked at the giant crown-shaped pods of my Japanese tree peonies and was surprised to see pea-sized seeds on some & tiny powdery seeds in others. Planted 'em all.

I saw off most of my sun-frizzled ostrich ferns (we're officially in zone 6, instead of 5 now, you know) to their new shady grove home. Their new owner, Edwin, refers to me as their "fern-father." In their places went sent-away-for re-blooming daylilies, re-blooming Siberian iris and some humongous lambs' ears donated at our last garden club meeting by Steve Meyer. I sprinkled some seeds of native black-eyed Susans and tall purple bee-balm among them.

Did anyone else check out the re-seeding impatiens of our hosts, Warren & Bob at the last Fairy Gardeners' meeting? They have a pink and white Policeman's Cap, a pinkish-purple type and a deep purple. All have come back a number of years.

I went off with my friend, Maha, to visit a retired teacher-friend of ours, Elaine, who has advanced cancer. Elaine befriended me at Taft High School when I, a new sub, was plunked into 5 art classes for a whole marking period. Elaine marched next door & gave me enough projects & materials for the entire time. We bonded even more when I gave her, a fabulous gardener, a giant bag of discarded flower & vegetable seeds from the garden center I worked at. Some (heck, most) are still growing in her far South Side yard (& of course, many were annuals. Figure that one out.) She gave me a big beautiful banana plant to take home this time, and I gave her some flying saucer morning glory seeds, purple bee-balm & poke-weed. (The purple New England asters I gave her years ago were glorifying her yard at our visit.) We all knew what these gifts were for. Elaine said that she'd have to live to see those saucers next year and Maha said that Elaine'd have to come visit her banana child at my house. (By the way, I hope you don't think we went & just talked at her: we cleaned her house, washed her clothes, did her dishes, took out the trash, grocery shopped & talked to her!)

Prepare for winter; hope for spring.
Edminster's Musings
Sept. 1, 2010

Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. I have a secret politically incorrect horticultural hobby. I call it the Johnny-Appleseed-City-Project and it is most emphatically not endorsed, sponsored or even approved of by this newsletter, club or blog. I scatter flower seeds where there were none before. And I do not pay attention as to whether they are native or not: pokeweed, Joe Pye weed, sweet Cecily, phlox, columbine, lilies, beebalm, milkweed, wild geraniums, morning glories, rose-of-Sharon and others. There ARE rules: no neighbor's yards, no parks, no nature preserves. Certainly no place where anyone is trying to restore (futilely, in my view) a pre-colonial ecology. Only plant in wastelands - dusty dry back alleys, vacant lots, wrecked factory campuses and the like. I have found & planted a scrub woods on a deserted railroad spur behind an isolated mega-store; I've found & planted the back end of a parking lot behind a dead strip mall; I've found a whole series of burned-down, knocked-down buildings. They'll all be blooming years from now. No, I don't do buckthorn or purple loosestrife but I am following in a certain anarchistic tradition. In England in Victorian times after a certain Mrs. Wilmont visited friend's gardens they later found an incredible flower growing. That plant is now called "Mrs. Wilmont's Ghost." To any who read this and are tearing out their hair in p.c. anguish, get over it. We're all emigrants. Are you going to banish or send home hostas, cedars of Lebanon, wheat, rice, roses, day-lilies, dandelions, dill, Chinese dogwoods et. al., et. al.? Not to mention, by the way, us? Make the deserts bloom.
Once you get over the drama of sending your former shade plants into exile (because of a sudden shocking loss of shade) it can get sort of interesting putting in replacements: the ferns are all going off to an old friend with a shady yard. As ferns go out in go white coneflowers, purple sedums, pink beebalm, and Russian sage. Soon to go in: enormous so-called tree lilies, maybe agastache, hollyhocks, yarrow and salvia. Do we have a plan? We don' do no stinkin' plans! Well, the plan is - if it lives & doesn't look quite right, move it or give it away. Hmm, could I fit in a miniature Japanese Maple or a chartreuse sumac? Should I plant out the largish boxwood (saved from destruction next door)? Should I set up a super grow light situation to try to save one of my pond's tropical water hyacinths? When should I tip over the potted amaryllis (bought 5 for a buck at an estate sale) to put in the basement? Should I clip back & pot up the 2 pink mandavilla vines in the yard? (One is blooming on my top deck climbing up the gilded Japanese-style cross beams I put on the peak of my building.) Should my gardening friend Lucy & I take over the branch of the local garden club that managed to flub up and skip our neighborhood's having a garden walk? An interesting winter looms.