Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Oh, the Times

Marian Burros, who wrote about the Obama's vegetable garden, called from the NYTimes some weeks ago and picked my brain at length about rooftop gardens (about which she apparently knew nothing, in a rather combative way). I suggested she consider terraces, too. She said, no, just rooves.

She calls back again today, and says she's considering terraces and asks where all our apples, fruit trees, herbs, etc. are located (I told her about them last time). our gardens? I say. She reads aloud on the phone an email I sent her weeks ago at her request, about a multilevel garden where we are planting espaliered apple trees, blueberries and herbs this summer. That doesn't sound like much food, she says crossly.

We have other terraces where we have fruit trees, vegetables and herbs, I venture. But is the entire terrace or rooftop devoted to them? she asks.



Someone read it when it happens and tell me all. This is missing the entire POINT of gardening, and gardening in high places. It's multicultural, like New York. The blueberries live with the ferns. The apples with thyme at their feet. The Swiss chard in an ornamental urn. The serviceberries double as specimen trees.

All so humourless and wonder new gardeners are put off. It has to be This Way, or else.


  1. The Times had better learn humor and humility quickly - before readers, already tired of poor reporting and sloppy editing, wake up and refuse to pay the $2 at the news stand and send the Old Lady to the bottom of the sea.

  2. Marian Burros is a food writer as far as I know. And it sounds like she was hunting for a story or trying to find some leads for a story.

  3. As in First Citizen, Maryland? :-)

  4. She is writing a story on roof gardens - about growing food in them, yes...When I hesitated to endorse the use of tomatoes in greenroofs (???) she got quite argumentative and said someone TOLD her it could be done. Then got impatient with my necessarily lengthy explanation of what a greenroof is, can be, and could be. It was the manner more than anything that put me off.

    Food and flowers, is my motto. Treat the apple as ornamental and eat it too.

    I would love to be an advocate for food gardening but it's hard when someone, who is not a gardener, is ramming down your throat just what that should be!

  5. Yes, I can claim lineage to Charles Carroll of Carrollton but, alas, neither property nor cash.

  6. ...Ms Hound, so I should stand down, stop frothing at the mouth, over reaction?

  7. Why is it that blogging gardeners are the GO TO resource for NY Times stories? Hmm. They really want to be the authority, don't they...

    They know that they're readers are metropolitan. They figure (no stats however) that metropolitan types are now veg gardening or asking , "should I?" Its popular topic, like -allofasudden. They need stories. They want you to FILL OUT the assumption of their story!

    Its not about us, but we feel charmed at first for being asked.

    The story must write itself, yet they want to chase a headline. Its a formula for the paper journalist I suppose. And they are trying so hard to have garden stories now.

    To think of the resources needed to have a real sizeable backyard veg garden on the rooftop. We've done our share of rooftop veg growing, but in a limited fashion for a variety of reasons. It can be done, BUT WHY??? Whats with the veg obsession? I wouldn't have my veg garden on a bald mountain-top for what seems to me like obvious reasons.

    I really love my perennials. And espalier just for the looks!

  8. Yep, you hit the gopher on the head, Frank. We feel charmed. It's wounded ego is what it is. We think Ooh, they feel we know something...then are wounded when they bugger off with our information. Thing is. We DO know something.

    Harumph. I feel a martini with botanical notes coming on.

  9. Of course you do!

    More complexity than they wish for.

  10. oh Marie, I am sorry I meant to continue with my comment by saying...
    that does not excuse her pushy and rude behavior!! sorry bout that.

  11. I don't think you're overreacting a bit. Rude is rude and Marian clearly should have been more polite - particularly since YOU were helping HER with a story.

    NYCG: Why edibles in the landscape? Because it's fun and gardening should be fun. It will also help the whole horticulture industry as new gardeners lured by veggies begin to consider ornamentals. With retiring Boomers downsizing their gardens, the industry could use a new market.

    Lastly, Marie, thank you, thank you, thank you for such a lovely blog. I find you at least delightful, often inspiring, and sometimes downright hysterical.

  12. Paul W,
    I do not think that I ask but why edible landscapes...
    The "But why" is in response to the idea of total vegetable gardens as opposed to mixed plantings on terraces and rooftops.

    I think all gardening is fun.

    However, I do suppose my viewpoint does not encompass the horticultural industry.

  13. 3:06 here, I agree with knithound, that explanation does not excuse rudeness or pushy ignorance. But it does encourage a shrug of the shoulders and a "pfft, food writer, tell Anne Raver to give me a call, then I can talk."

    btw, I love your blog, and am slightly obsessed with terrace gardens.

  14. Hmmm...that's the sort of phone call that would have made me reach for a fortifying drink!
    Rudeness is usually an indicator of limited intellect.

    And Paul W seems to have found your blog, and stayed, for the same reasons that drew me. ;-)

  15. Frank - thank you for being the chorus to my wailing. I wail too much - thank you, Lisa for adding the extra comment but I tend to over react, period.

    But I do think we're seeing the birthpains of a new media (we cry out and the baby pops out at the NYTimes heheheheh*gasp*),where information is available everywhere and ownership becomes fuzzy. Correction: it is NOT fuzzy - it's just easier to get away with more. I'm thinking now less of my little experience, and more of Frank's with an article quoting his blog (NYC Garden)'s info, and featuring him in print and online, but not once even mentioning his blog. My friend Jen (Last Night's Dinner) has had pictures lifted and used without her permission; Heather at New York Shitty regularly sees her Greenpoint scoops in the pages of the NY Post, without a peep of acknowledgement.

    I don't know whether it's happened yet on a smaller scale, but we will see a lawsuit one day, soon, which becomes the Roe vs Wade of the blogosphere.

    And Paul W - it's so nice to meet otherwise quiet readers, and to hear how much you enjoy this blog. I can't help being surprized, because it seems such a little endeavour, and I tend to wander off topic so often. Story of my life.

    Edibles in the landscape. I like them if they're goodlooking or good tasting, certainly. My mother grew artichokes in a flower border and they were stunning. I love to eat and cook, so they are a natural choice for me. But I understand what Frank is saying, I think: we react to the Fashion, the Green Band Wagon...we like flowers gosh darnit (I can be from Ohio...), always have, and will not be told otherwise.

    Anonymoose - thank you. Do you have a terrace? You know, I think an indiscreet pffft did escape from my nose when Marian poo-poohed my apple and blueberry garden, and I don't think she liked it!

    Dinahnow - thank you, that is very kind.

    I find the - gross generalization alert - American attitude to gardening very dogmatic. Like some of the hiking trails I've seen here. There are handrails and steps, and safety warnings. "This is what a garden is, this is what a trail ought to be". Gardening, like hikng, a sensual experience. It's messy, dirty, good smelling, beautiful, disastrous, tactile, evolving, unpredictable. Sure there are some rules if you like, but basically you stick a plant in some soil and see what happens. Take it from there. The plant will tell you the rest.

    I need to design a garden now :-)

    I've pushed the soapbox back under the bed to gather more dust bunnies.

  16. Burros is a burro.


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