Dreaming up gardens, putting them on paper, sourcing the trees and shrubs in catalogues, ordering them, and asking someone to go and pick them up is one thing. It's quite another to walk the wooded aisles, sniff what there is to sniff, and nibble, if you are me, the fruit from the trees.
I headed out to the nurseries on Long Island this morning with David, a fine gardener, and after almost two hours we arrived at Leuthard's fruit nursery near East Moriches, where we picked up two huge espaliered apple trees. I also re-acquainted myself with Tipper, their cute cat. Estorbo has pictures of her on his blog. The two big Mackintoshes were packed carefully into our truck, taking up a lot of space, ironically (as espaliers are designed to save space in a garden). David, high on orchard-possibilities, stumbled dreamily from peach to apricot to cherry tree, picking out more than he needed and less than he wanted. I also got two raspberries, one a black variety.
Half an hour back the way we'd come we found the amelanchiers I'd been hoping for, in great big 20 gallon pots - perfect for planting in containers, and loaded with fruit. It's a terrible time to plant trees, especially in fruit - summer. But needs must. There are different rules here in Gotham and I find that if enough care is taken, things do well. My mom once told me that anything I plant will grow, and I hope it rubs off on the other members of the gardening crew, if it is true. The amelanchier fruit was sweet, if on the small side, and I am itching to go to the DUMBO park to pick a basketful; it just may be too late if I wait for this weekend. If you're in the city, and greedy, or curious, try that park, between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, or Teardrop Park in Battery Park City.
The seeds, when warmed (in a pie for instance) give to the fruit a distinctly almondy/cyanide-y flavour...
Below, I wandered into a grove of charming, petite stewartias, perfect for a garden that my friend Natalie is designing, and took pictures... Also saw the family of teenage goositos (the link will provide context) that I saw last time, now a bit heftier. Hmmm. Goose and apples...sauternes, hmmm.
We were helped by two preternaturally friendly Mexican guys, burnished brown: Gabriel and Juan, who shook my hand firmly and did everything (which means really heavy lifting), unasked, with beatific smiles. We discussed fajitas and cabrito and the fact that Mexican food in this country is a bad joke. Gee whiz, save us from illegal immigrants?
Lord. This picture reminds me of a couple who, years ago, asked me to design their garden behind their renovated brownstone. They insisted that the tall tree in the back, in bloom in summer with camellia-like (my observation) flowers, be chopped down. It was the first stewartia I had seen. They hated it. I should have heeded the warning and scarpered. The garden I designed was very white and green, and took off amazingly, with something in bloom every month (except the stewartia) but the friend who now gardens there reports that they are horrified by the fact that things grow. It creeps them out. They creep me out. One learns so much about people doing this. Fortunately their sort of weirdness is rare and with more experience I have learned to dodge such bullets. How? I just do what Nancy Reagan (speaking of the creeps) said.
At Atlantic Nurseries I found that the roses had all been blasted by last week's heat and last weekend's storm and mini tornado, and looked terrible. In a far corner I found these, Rosa floribunda "Pretty Lady" and picked up several. I did take some Abraham Darby's too, despite their looks, because I know they'll bounce back again with food and love, and I do adore them. I will just have to explain to the owner of the new garden that they have had a rough time.
So much so that the herbs for the kitchen garden (for which the apples are destined) had to ride up front with us. Whee, whee, whee, all the way home. Which reminds me of Bob's birthday plans. He is going to spit-roast a pig.