Showing posts from November, 2007

The Turkey’s Tale

As we continue to eat Thanksgiving leftovers of every imaginable description, let us also give thanks that the wild turkey has been brought back from the brink of extinction. Abundant when the first settlers arrived on the East Coast of America, the native turkey was hunted for both its meat and feathers. As more and more of its woodland habitat was converted to urban areas, the combined effect of loss of habitat and uncontrolled hunting took its toll. In the early 1900s, the number of turkeys nationwide is believed to have dropped to 30,000 birds. Today, thanks to preservation efforts, there are nearly 7 million. In our neck of the woods, we still see turkeys running wild through the forest, nesting, and roosting in trees at night. In years past, we’ve been visited by as many as 32 birds at once (five hens and their broods). The guard hen gave a soft cluck when she felt it was safe for each bird to climb up into the yard from a lower plateau. With military precision, they fanned o

Easy Roses

When I was a kid Grandpa still tended Grandma’s rose garden behind the apartment house where we lived. My dim recollection is that they must have all been some kind of tea roses, because they smelled great. No longer able to do it herself, she would lean out the window and bark her orders. This was a typical city yard, about the size of a postage stamp, with a central walkway and flower beds on either side. Grandma’s side had the roses; our side had what I then considered the ugly plants: Hydrangea, Lily-of-the-Valley, and my arch-enemy, Rose of Sharon. Today my own garden has all of these very same plants. I guess they are classics for a reason. In the past, I have struggled and struggled to grow roses, all to no avail. But within the last few years, I was fortunate to discover shrub roses, which seem to need no assistance from me. One of my favorites, and most prolific, is a pinky coral that had no tag when I got it. The two brands that have done best in our garden are Kno

Choosing Outdoor Furniture

I grew up in an era when lawn furniture meant webbed aluminum lawn chairs and lounges or redwood-stained picnic table sets. We’ve come a long way baby. Today we can choose among an endless array of wood, wrought iron, and cast aluminum pieces, in a wide variety of styles. Don’t just buy what’s on sale at the home store, but think about the style and colors that will tie your seating areas to the house. Our new Adirondack chairs, for example are paired with 30-year old end “tables” that are actually seats from a discarded picnic set. Once they were all painted the same color teal, they looked like they belonged together. Color is the great unifier, regardless of the type of furniture. Paint or stain tables and chairs the same color as your shutters, or other trim, and see how they suddenly become visually attached to the house. Most people like more than one style, but avoid mixing several unrelated outdoor furniture styles together, or it will look like the hodge-podge that it

Forest Restoration

This week, I attended a symposium on how each of us can contribute to preserving our woodlands, hosted by the Frelinghuysen Arboretum. The keynote speaker was Leslie Jones Sauer, who spoke passionately about forest restoration. The topic resonated so strongly with me that, had I been 30 years younger, I would have run right out and started a new career! Retired from the firm that she founded, Andropogon Associates, a design firm that specializes in integrating environmental protection and restoration with landscape architecture, Leslie provided many examples of both bad planning and how we are loving our outdoor spaces to death. Mountain bikers, for example, are some of the most destructive visitors to our parks, demolishing everything in their paths, and leaving in their wake severe erosion problems for the rest of us to repair. A state park only one mile away from my home is seriously considering closing all of its trails to bikers. The news isn’t all bad, however. Leslie showe