Sunday, April 13, 2014

Life and death on the Harlem terrace

It's official.

It is no more.

After seven years of New York winters the fig must have gasped its last sometime in January or February. At one point, in the snow that buried the Harlem terrace this winter, it was alive. I know, because I scratched its bark and it was green. But then I discovered a split at its base, and perhaps that is what did it in. I can't be sure how that happened. I know a massive icicle dislodged from the darn leaking gutter two floors up, and hit it, but I am not certain that that would have caused this low split. And this winter was the coldest I can remember.


I am sad, of course. But not as sad as I had expected to be. The fig seemed to symbolize what was special about the tiny Brooklyn  terrace. When we moved here everything was suddenly off balance, and not quite what we had expected, and maybe it seemed fitting that the poor fig tree died.

The cut wood smelled like fresh fig leaves. That was a bit difficult. I saved the wood for a fire, to perfume something for a supper.

(Of the fig cuttings I took, one seems to have survived. We shall see.)

There has been another loss: the Iceberg. Also trapped underneath that leaking gutter, and entombed in ice. I think I bought it from the Texas Rose Emporium in about 2004.

The end of an era.

In better news, I planted lily bulbs from the wonderful Lily Garden, who included two free bonus bulbs in their order (it was a bonus Silk Road, years ago, that led to me ordering so many more, subsequently), and hand written warnings on labels to warn of the tender shoots emerging inside (you break them and you lose your flowers for the year). And this despite the fact that I had not paid them! I had forgotten to call in my credit card number. The Lily Garden is a small but impeccable outfit in the Pacific Northwest and does things the old school way - one can't order online (even though their catalogue is very good, online), and I don't fax. So I email my orders with a promise to call in the payment details. And I forgot. They just included a hand written note to say what I owed.

Their bulbs are very healthy and large, and the care excellent.

Not so, Brent and Becky's. Less wonderful. $15 for a lily bulb smaller than a quarter (Lilium canadense - hard to find, anywhere). Not impressed. And several of my Lilium longiflorum had lost their shoots in transit. The Uvularia seemed healthy, as did the Gloriosa lilies. But I will never order lilies from them again. This happened some years ago, with Formosa lilies (tiny!) and I should not have tried again.

Also: the fava beans have emerged, the chives look green and juicy, and the blueberry is covered with buds.

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