Showing posts from February, 2009

Primroses = Spring

Just when I think I can’t stand another minute of winter, the smiling faces and heady fragrance of primroses appear in stores everywhere. These came in their own cache pots, but I’ve also used the plants in small tabletop troughs, indoor window boxes, and ornamental bowls, to make attractive centerpieces. Many primroses are not scented. As with roses, I wonder, “What’s the point?” Yellow and purple primroses are the most likely to exude perfume, but not all of them do. So, I stand at the display and sniff each and every yellow plant to find out whether it’s “the one.” To me, it’s worth the effort. However, I couldn’t resist that bi-color interloper despite its lack of scent --- I figured the other two would make up for it. Select plants that have new buds coming on, or flowers just about to open, and the plants will retain their flowers for two to three weeks with ordinary care. The trick then becomes to find a spot to hold them over until they can go into the ground. Last year, I

Go Play Outside

We’re just back from Bowman’s Hill’s annual Land Ethics Symposium ( ) and I’m all fired up to jump back into the fray and change the world. But what had the biggest effect on me was that two of the presenters spoke of mothers who threw them out the door every morning, pockets stuffed with sandwiches or fruit, and told them to go play outdoors. It reminded me of my own mother, who insisted I play outside and “get some fresh air on your body.” Today’s moms would, no doubt, be horrified that I was out in the woods “cooking” dirt and grass to eat and tasting the barks of various trees and shrubs as I believed the Indians had. Our parents taught my brother and I about the dangers of poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac, rattlesnakes and copperheads, so we survived. We returned from our trips to the quarry with pockets full of stones and spent hours poring over our science encyclopedia and field guides trying to identify our “collections,”

Plan Ahead for Dogs in the Garden

A parade of Seeing Eye pups has passed through our garden during the past six years. They arrive, cute as a button at a mere 7 – 10 pounds (that’s Christine), but grow quickly into full-sized Labrador Retrievers that top the scales at 50+ pounds. Our own Emma weighs in at 70. Because a human life may ultimately depend upon a Seeing Eye dog guide, these puppies must be raised in a somewhat more restrictive way than a pet would be, but they’re still allowed to have lots of fun and plenty of play time. At our house that means chasing Frisbees, retrieving balls, and splashing around in the doggie pool (Emma and Harriet). When we added on to our house in 2000, our old garden was completely destroyed by the construction equipment. Gardeners are such optimists! I viewed this as an opportunity for a complete redo. Julie Moir Messervy’s book The Inward Garden was very helpful in visualizing areas for various activities, one of the most important of these being enough running

Green Gardening Gloves

These gloves are green in more ways than one, since they’re made from recycled water bottles. They are constructed with a high-tech spandex mesh fabric derived from recycled PET (polyethylene terephthalate) beverage bottles that have been ground up and spun into recycled yarn. Each pair of the new West County Gardener Work and Landscape gloves removes one 8-ounce beverage bottle from landfills. Using recycled yarn versus virgin polyester yarns provides up to 75% energy savings and reduces green house gas emissions by at least 40%. The recycled fabric, called EcoSmart is tough and light, but just as soft as conventional nylon spandex. I have both kinds and can’t feel any difference in texture or comfort. The Landscape glove is engineered with coated Kevlar © , heavy-duty polyurethane synthetic suede, and a tough-textured polyester palm to stand up to highly abrasive landscape elements such as stone, pavers and trees. Last summer, one of my yard helpers managed to destroy a pair of Wes