Showing posts from February, 2008

Gardening Heresy Good for Environment

After a rousing introduction that recalled the history of why we garden the way we do, John Peter Thompson got three hundred landscape architects, environmentalists, and government officials (at last week’s Land Ethics Symposium, sponsored by Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve near New Hope, Pennsylvania) to entertain an heretical thought: It’s time for a change. Once he pointed out that today’s McMansion is the U.S. version of an English baronial manor house, he drew the parallel between the current landscape styling of vast lawns and perimeter plantings to the baronial manor house firmly planted in its “park.” The first European grand-scale gardens were the products of kings, both French and English, who used their gardens as displays of wealth, power, and authority. These gardens took hundreds of gardeners to maintain, as well as the expense of global plant hunts to acquire rare botanical curiosities. They were as far removed as we can imagine from being sustainab

Ice Storm

Last week’s ice storm devastated our trees, although the cedars along the driveway that screened us from the road seem to have gotten the brunt of it. The only thing on the plus side of the ledger is that they fell parallel to the electric wires. One faithful old giant 40+ feet tall was pulled out by its roots and, as it tumbled down, took a dozen of its companions with it. In another spot, cedars that afforded us a pleasing view of the golf course lake while masking the view of the asphalt parking lot were damaged as well. One split vertically from top to bottom. Deciduous species lost limbs the size of whole trees. Some had their tops broken off. All of this took place at heights of 50 – 70 feet, where we can do little except wait for them to eventually fall to the ground --- hopefully not while we are walking beneath. I have snapshots of myself at age four or five standing beside some of these trees, so they are more than just plants that serve a utilitarian purpose in the

Your Garden — A Pleaser or a Teaser?

What’s weight-loss got to do with gardening? Not what you might think. Many years ago, I read Judy Wardell’s classic weight-loss book, Thin Within. She distinguished between foods that are “pleasers” and foods that are “teasers” – between tens and zeros. I’ve since used this “tens” notion in nearly every aspect of my life. What with spring just around the corner, I’ve begun to mull over the concept in terms of gardening. Think about your garden for a moment. How many of the plants in it are those that hold a special affinity for you? Plants that you consider so special that every time you look at them, or smell them, give you a deep-down, total satisfaction? These are pleasers, tens. They are very specific, may not be easy to obtain, or may be expensive to buy. They may have sentimental value, reminding you of a certain person, place, or time in your life. Furthermore, what you consider a pleaser can change over time. So what are teasers? Plants that are easy to get and look grea

Garden Time

In last week’s blog, guest Eric Maisel raised the concept of re-imagining time so that “it is abundantly meaningful to turn to it (gardening) for short periods of time during the day rather than holding that, unless you have a huge expanse of time, there is no reason to bother.” This echoes the sentiments expressed by garden writer Marianne Binetti who believes that gardening is a legitimate task to be incorporated into every garden writer’s workday and that time should be set aside for it like other assignments or appointments. Marianne suggests the carrot-and-stick approach, in which the gardening interval is a reward for completing our less palatable duties. I seems much easier to get into the garden, than to get out of it, however. All serious gardeners are familiar with the elasticity of time, something we are told is a fixed unit. We’re taught that every second is the same length, determined by atomic clocks based on the hyperfine (microwave) transitions in hydrogen-1, ce