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Showing posts from February, 2010

Rhynchostylis Revels – It’s Blooming, It’s Blooming!

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For those who garden with orchids, it sometimes seems impossible to say why one is a success and another a failure. So it was with the precious Rhynchostylis gigantea orchid that mesmerized me at a small local show in Florida more than five years ago. Who could resist the intoxicating perfume of two enormous racemes in full bloom?

In all, I carefully wrapped and packed five different orchids for the trip home. The temperamental Rhynchi and a reliable Paphiopedilum are the only two that have survived the “care” I’ve given them. I try, I really do.

The Paph sends up a new flower every year and once bloomed twice in the same year. Thank goodness for these and the easy-to-grow Phalaenopsis, or my orchid blooms might arrive like locusts, only once every seven years.

So it was a with a celebration equivalent to the arrival of a child that I greeted the first flowers of my Rhyncostylis’ since it emigrated to New Jersey. In all of that time, I think it grew only two new leaves, although the leav…

Event: Cultivating the Inner Gardener at Springfest

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Save the date. I’m scheduled to present an overview of Cultivating the Inner Gardener: Gardening for Personal Growth (http://cultivatingtheinnergardener.blogspot.com )on March 12, 2010 at 3:30pm, at this year’s Springfest Flower and Garden Show in Augusta, NJ at the Sussex County Fairgrounds (http://bit.ly/a6W29O ). Come by and say “hello” if you’re in the area.

Springfest started out as a small local show and has grown to host more than 8,000 visitors annually. This year, there will be a special dedication and grand opening of the new 5,000 sq. ft. conservatory, the generous gift of Bev and Bruce Gordon. Topiaries from Duke Gardens, donated by the Doris Duke Foundation, will decorate the conservatory. Shops, a café, kid’s activities a full lecture schedule, and a dozen gardens make for a great break from cabin fever.

See you there.

Gardening Is Good for the Soul

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Gardening can be a hobby, a business, a teaching tool, a learning experience, a science experiment, the setting for a novel, movie, or ballet, the subject matter of photography, painting, or poetry, and much more. But without its connection with you, the gardener, a garden will be nothing more than a well-designed, controlled imitation of nature. It will have no soul.

And, as we are critical to igniting the souls of our gardens, likewise, gardening is good for our souls. Even gardens consisting of the most mundane plants, draw out the nuturing and caregiving elements of human nature. I’ve rarely met a gardener who didn’t also enjoy feeding birds and attracting butterflies. The more organically-inclined among us form alliances with worms, beneficial insects, and even fungi that enhance the soil. We mask the sounds of civilization with the sounds of gurgling water from streams, fountains, and ponds.

In short, gardening represents our attempt to reconnect and work in concert with nature. W…

The Genius of Place

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Eighteenth-century gardener, poet, and acerbic critic Alexander Pope’s phrase “the genius of the place” is often quoted by garden writers, landscape architects, and environmental advocates to urge us to respect what Nature herself provides.

But, it’s important to understand Pope’s phrase in context: The context of the times, the context of Pope’s rebellion against the excesses of the wealthy, and even within the context of the larger poem. Those who’d like to read the whole, Epistles to Several Persons: Epistle IV To Richard Boyle, Earl of Burlington, can find an annotated version at Representative Poetry Online, http://rpo.library.utoronto.ca/poem/1632.html .

I’ve reproduced the 18 relevant lines here:

            To build, to plant, whatever you intend,
            To rear the column, or the arch to bend,
            To swell the terrace, or to sink the grot;
            In all, let Nature never be forgot.
            But treat the goddess like a modest fair,
            Nor overdress, nor…