Saturday, January 18, 2014

Waiting, on 127th Street

Funny weather. I mean, isn't it always? It is a mild (by polar vortex standards, which recalibrated everything I knew about cold) 38'F/3'C - acceptable in the January sun. I walked out onto the deck in bare feet to photograph the blueberry buds.

It occurred to me, in the middle of the night - as these things do - that I will need another blueberry bush if this one is to set good fruit. Cross pollination with a different cultivar. In Brooklyn our neighbour, inspired by ours, planted one on her next door terrace. She occupies the same space in terms of square feet. Her rent, she told me, shortly before we left, was $600 less than ours. And ours was set to be raised by another $600 per month.

Whaddaya gonna do?

Well. We did it.

Perhaps I can give a blueberry to our landlord to plant in his garden. Or perhaps I just have to squeeze it in on the terrace. And does it matter?  It occurred to me, too, that perhaps I should sketch the layout of the terrace the way I would for a client. Watercolours and everything. I have rarely applied the principles - if you can call them that -  I use to design design gardens to my own efforts, which are a far more loose and frankly undisciplined eruption of instinct, whimsy and necessity. Like my mother I tend towards plant collection, never able to say no to something new and interesting, or simply in bloom at that moment.

I think the rosemary - that had survived a winter or two on the  Brooklyn rooftop, is toast. The figs are both alive - I scratched their branches and saw green. One clematis has put out shoots. Idiot. But amazing, anyway. The roses never dropped their last leaves, which droop like camouflage scales from their branches where new red buds are waiting to break.

Seeds have arrived. Low tech. The shiso is to send to Lily, and one packet for myself. I didn't plant any last year and regretted it. The nasturtiums are ostensibly for leaves. I am going to miss my usual fava bean and pea shoots this year. I suppose I could plant some. Should I? I miss the order of having just food in one place, on the old roof farm. The Nicotiana are for the hummingbirds (well, you never know) and for scent and for tallness. I want tallness. Before tallness, of course, there will be Waiting. I'm not good at that part, which is why so many of my annual plants during the growing year are impulse buys - already rooted and growing and about to bloom. But I have decided to exercise restraint.

At least, that is what I say now.

It will be an interesting year.

Speaking of seeds. This was very nice. Their new catalogue. Thank you, Botanical Interests.


  1. Nice, that appearance in the catalog. Waiting for some seed orders myself, and there are other still to put in...

  2. Marie, We were very glad to put you in the catalog and really appreciate your support. I am about half way through your book and it is really lovely, especially the stories. I often think about life in terms of plants and food, so it reaches me. I am really excited to see you chose the green nicotiana. I grew it last year for my wedding flowers and it was AMAZING! I'll grow it every year. The best part comes in fall. When frost takes most other flowers, it leaves behind the strong. This plant not only survived temperatures down to 26F but so did the flowers! One last welcome stand of chartreuse in the face of inevitable cold.

    1. Thank you very much, Ryan...:-)

      I love it when people who really know what they are doing grow heir own flowers for special occasions - and jealous that you have the space!

      Thank you again for the catalog-inclusion.

  3. I think you should draw your terrace out as you would for a client. Play with color, and plants and see what comes to mind....beside it will be a nice keepsake when you move on someday as I'm sure you will. I have a hard time saying "no" to plants too, but as I've gotten older and the knees have gotten worse I've had to prune back my wanton plant greed. After a fence project and several years of neglect the garden is in need of a good overhaul. I wish I had you here so I could see the space through your eyes.

  4. White Flower Farms has a Blueberry plant they say is self polinating, something they have named Brazelberries. Expensive but then everything they sell seems expensive but I have rarely regretted any purchase from them. I have not tried it but am thinking about getting one plant for a container this year. There maybe other varieties that are self pollinating but I am not too sure about this. Look for one called Sweetcrisp.

  5. Marie,

    I predict that you will take over your LL's plot, pot-by-pot and that it will be a fruitful exchange!

  6. Get those watercolours out...and let us see?

  7. How lovely that your advice was featured in the catalog. Looking at the photograph, I made note of what you were quoted about chervil bolting in the summer heat- I have it growing in my winter garden for the first time but I wasn't sure as to what would happen to it when summer approached.

  8. Tabakblomme! one of the best scents in the world. I am VERY excited about the shiso... thank you . xx

  9. Hello! The Botanical Interests catalog was what brought me to your beautiful blog. So glad it did!


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