Monday, March 31, 2008

The last of March

Not much potting on the terrace. Sorry. Container-gardening joke. Then again, it depends on how closely you care to look. The boxwoods are forming long, tight buds which, come warmer weather, will turn into brilliant green ruffles all over their trimmed forms.

I clipped the boxwood below late last season, irritating it into producing new growth as cold weather hit. That'll do it, I muttered to myself, too late; I've killed this runty boxwood I've been nursing for three years. But the the new foliage is still there, unburned by bitter cold, and will itself produce new leaves this spring. "Eentersteen' ", as Don Estorbo would say.

Narcissus very wet and looking contrite after today's showers.

And look what survived winter! The fig! Old hands will not be surprised at this but it was my first experiment with a fig, potted, in this climate. I wrapped it in gorgeous black garbage bags and hid it under the massive copper bowl of my barbecue/braaivleis/firepit. Anyway, it was protected. If it makes fruit, there will be a party.

The mizuna seedlings are coming along nicely. They made me nostalgic for my childhood (for radishes, not mizuna...), and I could feel a soapbox dragging itself nearer, scrape, scrape:

Children NEED to GARDEN!

It's good for them, and it's good for their parents. It makes them nicer human beings. It's the best and most accessible therapy I can think of. You don't need a therapist, or a pill, you need a garden. Even if it's just in a pot, like my zinc bath/mizuna field. And so many Americans have serious space. New York teaches you how luxurious the smallest of backyards is. That's like a football field to us. To dig and turn the soil, to plant seed, to wait, to water, to watch, to imagine, to see, to touch, to transplant and thin, to wait and water, and feed...and later, much later, to pick, to eat. Children need to garden. Having an outdoor space and no child in it with a child's garden, modest or ambitious, is a waste: sad, an opportunity squandered. Gardening teaches them about themselves, about what they can do, of how good it feels to look after something, to look forward to something. worth. waiting. for.

I shall produce this picture again, triumphantly (I hope) in May, when this David Austen hybrid blooms. Abraham Derby. Clunky name, beautifully-shaped blooms, transporting fragrance. The pot comes from GRDN.

It had a lot of die-back but what was left after a no-holds-barred pruning seems healthy.

The greener leaves belong to the climbing Iceberg, now in its ...good grief: 5th year in residence. It arrived in a narrow box from the Antique Rose Emporium in Texas, and taught me the hard way that you should not prune climbers hardly at all (well, it was from Texas. At least its growth was not nu-cuclear...).

And the rampant New Dawn. Another Before the After pic. I can't wait for May. Lots of champagne!

Nepeta catarrica. Catnip to y'all. Not only tantalizing to cats but very pretty in bloom.

And that's it. The last day of March. Tomorrow it's spring and no excuses.

Wednesday will find me at Union Square and in Brooklyn Heights taping a spring planting segment for Open House New York. That will be April 2nd, my parents' wedding anniversary. 53 years.


  1. I totally agree with you. Now tell me, how do I convince my son to let go of his electronic game long enough to even realise things are growing in the garden? How do I teach him to patiently wait for results over days and months when he gets stimulation and instant gratification on the screen? How do I even get him interested enough to read "The Secret Garden" when he can relate to nothing in it?
    And no, just by seing Mom doing it ain't enough to get his interest. Our children are a new breed...sigh

  2. Hm. First, you get a straight jacket. Heheheh. Of course, being a Nazi-like non-parent myself, I would advocate dragging said person kicking and screaming and saying Dig! I'm growing lettuces and strawberries, you do the radishes. Compulsory. Is there such a thing anymore?

    I don't naive belief is that after a while of doing it because you have to, it grows (...) on you without your kidself realizing it. I hated flute practise (I believe the choice might have been practise or go to your room, or rebel and be spanked??)for so many years but lo! came a point, maybe four years later (don't panic, I'm sure I was extra slow),and I liked it. And now I can play the flute, fairly well, to comfort me in my old age.

    With gardening...I don't know how old I was. Small. And I think I liked it from the beginning.

    Ja, I don't know, Breeg, you're right: preaching is the easy part, :-)

  3. Ok, I like the straight jacket idea. I'll take an x-large. Oh, you meant for HIM?

  4. No, the straight jacket is for the flute and gardening teachers once they're through with you both... ;-)

  5. Hey?

    But I was a good little flute student. except it ook quite a while to master double tongueing...


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