Old Plant-Tone Update and New Question

Hi fellow revelers,

Just wanted to let you know that, although there was vigorous debate, the jury of my peers voted against using the old Plant-Tone, so I tossed it, not in the garden but in a contratctor’s bag.   (see the old post here).  I still am not sure it was the right thing to do and realize I could have done a test-swatch of soil, but c’est la vie.  We move on…to the next

QUESTION: It’s the middle of the day, on a hot one, and I just bought some border flower plants (about four of the small containers), including impatiens and petunias.  I know it’s not wise to water plants in the middle of the day, since doing so could expose the leaves to sunburn, but what about planting?  Is there a better time of the day to put some flowers in the ground?  Is this one of them?  When is ideal to plant these babies?  It’s my birthday … give me the gift of answers … go ahead, gimme the dirt!

Losing the Roses

April and May has wrought a lot of loss.  My grandmother lost Harish, a man full of humor, music, and deep understanding who was her life partner for the past 35 years.  Michelle, a friend of unbridled vibrancy and laughter like jewels who was family to me and mine left us at a startling young age.  Another lifelong family friend succumbed to his own battle and, like Michelle, left behind a young family.  A best friend’s father, an avid gardener and man of endless layers of wisdom and wry humor, a man who always made those in his presence feel welcome, left without warning.  And yesterday the inimitable poet, writer and revolutionary Gil Scott-Heron is dead.

It’s a short time to have so many amazing people pack up their talents and leave this earth.  I remember what was said of those who died shortly before 9/11/01 – that they left to get ready to welcome the others whose lives were lost in the tragedy that struck that day.  My friend, Michelle, died the day before the recently predicted Judgment Day.  We can all be pissed at those who predicted it, roll our eyes and say it was irresponsible of them to try to drag others along on their crazy-train but, regardless, some day the world is sure to end.  It could have been then, and it could have not.  It could be tomorrow, or countless tomorrows more.  Either way, it didn’t escape my notice that she left the day before the predicted day of reckoning.  If anything made me think there might be even a glimmer of truth to the doomsdayers, it was knowing there couldn’t have been a better person than her on the other side.  That, and the weird fact that a friend of mine wrote a story twenty years ago about Judgment Day, predicting with some surprising accuracies the current life statuses of me and several other friends.  That aside, all this has got me to thinking.

I’ve been wondering about the responsibility of all of us still here.  I was listening to NPR not long ago and heard an audio clip of a woman whose husband died in one of the towers on 9/11.  She talked to him on the phone after the plane hit and until something fell, and the call ended.  She said that she wanted to rush into the building and save him.  But she couldn’t.  She said that she now lives life more fully, living it, as she is, for the two of them.  I couldn’t stop Harish from getting cancer, or Michelle.  I couldn’t keep my friend’s father’s heart ticking, or anyone else’s for that matter.  I can’t take away the pain or loss that any person or family feels.

But I can live my life more fully, and more responsibly, than before.

I am two minutes away from my next year of life.  And for that year, I commit to live just a bit more fully and more thoughtfully, which is my responsibility, in honor and memorial to all those who have come, and gone, before me.

QUESTION: what is the message you take of those who have left us?  What will you do in their honor?

To Let Be or Not to Let Be?

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Rethinking a Transplant

Update of 08/10/11 — this was a wild plant that a neighbor pointed out to me is invasive.  It certainly grows at a fast pace but hasn’t displaced any other plants.  I decided to let it be.  It gave me this beautiful splash of white for about little over a week in late May/early June.  After that, it kind of died back and took a side seat to some of the other plants around it.  Since it seems to live so peaceably among the others, I have no plans to disturb it.

Sow What

Two years ago I had some wildflower seeds.  After carefully plotting and planting a small vegetable garden in my backyard, as I have done most of the years I’ve been living here, I sat on the front porch and literally flung those seeds blindly, behind my head, into the yard.  When friends came over, I offered them seeds to free.  I thought it was rather communal and romantic.  It was a little rebellious too, and you’d know what I mean if you saw what I’ve always deemed painfully manicured lawns in my vicinity, tortured as they’ve been into submission.  At the time I was having some work done on my house by a neighbor’s brother-in-law.  They’re from Bangladesh.  He’d been coming over every day to work on the house.  I’d make him lunch.  He’d ask me if I had any friends he could marry.  He offered good money.  (I’m not making it up).  He also asked me to stash his bottle of brandy in my cupboard because his sister-in-law wouldn’t allow it.  Of course I said yes.  So he was getting kind of comfortable around here.  One day I came home and saw that he had chopped down and uprooted the many various “weeds” in my yard.  He expected a thank you.  My manners kept me from giving him a different kind of ___ you.  I was livid.  Little did he know, and not at all did he understand, that I had been carefully un-gardening my lawn for many years.

And I liked it that way.  But change is the big constant.

Although at the time I was enraged on many levels for the many reasons what he’d done was wrong, I am glad now that what he left was a bald lawn that I viewed as so violated, I had to start over.  I’ve now taken the front half of my yard and combed it through and through, ridding it of the onions that I have researched, determined and confirmed should not be welcome back.  I’ve spaced out my eleven-year old hostas.  I interspersed daylillies hand-delivered from Wisconsin.  I planted some johnny-jump-ups.  And I have grounded my native plants, and are watching them all carefully to see what they do, and whether they feel at home.  I’ve put jasmine by the front door, and have thyme brimming from the planters on the front steps.  I may not get to the whole front yard in the next few months, but that’s okay too.  My friend in Red Hook says it’ll be good gardening weather this year.  I have plenty this summer for my hands to do.  Moderation being the key, I may keep on hand some seeds to fling.

Guest Post by Kathe Johnson

Fellow Revelers, I hope you’re enjoying your Memorial Day weekend as much as I am.  It also happens to be my birthday weekend, and, as a present to me, several fellow revelutionaries have graciously agreed to guest host post over the next several days. So I am pleased to introduce you to our first, hailing from Wisconsin, an all around amazing individual and one of my most favorite people of all time, Kathe Johnson:

I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one on tv. I’m not a gardener, but I love to read gardening books and listen to gardeners share their stories. As I do, I wonder what transformation takes place in the gardener as in the seed. What attracts a gardener to the activity? Does it teach patience? I don’t think so. I think gardeners want to be alone, and gardening is a way to shut out some of the commotion of their everyday lives. I’ve often asked myself why I don’t garden, even though I have curiosity about it, and – the answer I tell myself – I don’t know what I am doing. I would feel like a failure, if I planted a flower and weeds came up. Perhaps I should check out Gardening for Dummies. My friend, Roxie, gave me some potatoes with eyes on them to plant so I could grow potatoes. Guess what? I have no the hell idea how to put them in the ground. Do I cut them? Do I put the whole thing in ? What do I do with it? I’m serious. So I gave them to someone who already has a garden. Except one. I have one potato with an eye down there.

I feel joy and awe when I think about people and their gardens, knowing that there is a looming world food shortage and those gardeners might somehow be lessening the pain of hunger even if it’s just by a little bit. I wish that gardening were taught in elementary school in the classroom. Bishop Fulton J. Sheen wrote, “if everyone lit just one little candle, what a bright world it would be.” I think if everyone grew just one little garden, what a right world it would be.

QUESTION: do you agree that gardening should be taught in public schools?

A Little Night Gardening

Thanks to my very most awesome neighbor who has generously plied me w/native plants, some discarded, some abandoned, almost all of them looking a little lonely and forlorn, and thanks to my other most very great neighbor who turned on her porch light for a little night soil sifting, I now have a native plant refuge in my front yard. She’s breathing kinda heavy but it’s the good deep rib-roaring sighs that say she’s been sitting one way too long. A recurring message the multiverse (http://www.npr.org/2011/01/24/132932268/a-physicist-explains-why-parallel-universes-may-exist) keeps sending me is that change is the only constant on this earth. Gardening, by extension, is all about that movement. We just keep moving things around in the ground, and see how it all responds. Once it all seems settled, time to do the shift again, and then see what takes. I asked my mulch neighbor when was too late to plant & he said when the ground’s frozen. Taking that to heart, I planted my little native-plant plot by moonlight, with my dog lazily enjoying the night earth nearby. Now the natives aren’t so restless and bereft. They were looking downright snazzy when I left them tonight. Who knows what tomorrow shall bring?

QUESTION: Now that I have my little native plant garden in, are there any suggestions for its care?  I know it should probably fare better than an exotic garden, and feel right at home, but any pointers are welcome (including general gardening tips since I’m also compiling a list of those).  Go ahead … gimme the dirt!