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Showing posts from August, 2007

TB Addicts

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My first experience with TB addicts was in May 2004, when I chased a group of them more than 100 miles across Southern New Jersey on a tour. Standing under the scorching noontime sun for more than an hour on a day when it was 95-degrees in the shade, they peered at hundreds of Tall Bearded Irises, trying to improve their skill as judges. As I waited under the shade of a nearby tree I thought, “These people are nuts!” Now I’m one of them.These fascinating flowers have a short but spectacular season at the end of May, after many of the spring bloomers have finished, but before most summer perennials have gotten started. When planted in full sun (and even quite a bit of shade) they are pretty much carefree. The tall beardeds come in a rainbow of colors, all except true red, which breeders have taken on as a challenge.Like any other addiction, mine began with just a small taste. We have a difficult spot in a very visible place in the backyard. It was just wet enough that nothing would gro…

Night Visitors

The other night we heard the busy twittering of house wrens in the front yard; not unusual given that a pair had raised two clutches of chicks in the bluebird house, and that three other pairs had each fledged their own broods three different times this summer. What caught my attention though, was a wren attempting to perch on the window muntins of the front door, as our (indoor) cat lashed her tail to and fro in anticipation of some very exciting action.Our front porch offers a smorgasbord of insects even with the light turned off, but I thought it was rather late for the birds’ evening meal, it being nearly dark. As we spied on the pair through our window, they hopped around the posts and beams, sat for a few moments in the shelter of my summering house fern, perched atop the bonsai, and darted between the porch and nearby cedar trees. They first tried the chair and then the deacon’s bench, in between making forays back onto the beams. All the while, they chattered to one another in…

The Transformational Power of Gardening™

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Come with me on a typical garden tour. The sky is partly cloudy, the temperature is in the mid-80s, and we’re hauling around photographic equipment that weighs about 25 pounds. We have to hit seven gardens between the hours of 9:00am and 4:00pm and, if we’re lucky, three of them will be suitable for scouting. When we get to the second garden, one of the hostesses asks, “Have you seen the Trousseau’s garden? Everyone is just raving about it!”That’s our cue. Whether it’s number three on the tour, or number seven, that’s where we’re heading next. When we arrive, there are more than 75 people walking through the Trousseau’s modest garden. This is going to take a while. The hostess runs off to extract the homeowner from a circle of ten excited visitors who have been peppering her with questions about this plant or that ornament. The gracious gardener takes us on a ‘Cook’s Tour’ of the garden. I ask a few specific questions to fill in the blanks and she’s off again to mingle with her other …

Do-It-Yourself Gardeners

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The willingness and capability of some gardeners to just do it all themselves never ceases to amaze me. Whether the incentive is to increase the value of their property (would that really motivate people to do all of that hard work?), take pride in the finished product, enjoy the process, or express their personal ideals, those hands-on gardeners make a huge investment of time and energy. People who do it themselves with stonework particularly come to mind. Whether they’re using a crowbar and a garden tractor, or renting a backhoe, working with stone is dirty, heavy, exhausting, labor-intensive work.I’m sure that’s why, when Dan’s casual, Zen approach to creating rustic rock walls that resemble fence rows doesn’t quite match up with my aesthetic sense, he reminds me how much more this would cost if we had to pay someone else to do all of the labor. Thank goodness he enjoys doing it so much that my contribution to the project is confined to selecting, placing, and planting the plants t…