Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Found Time

Things are finally slowing down for me.  I have been playing softball two nights a week and sometimes on the weekend since late April.  But our softball season finally ended with a pizza party last night.  Not having something scheduled on Monday and Tuesday nights now seems like a luxury.  Somehow, that extra time on the calendar makes it feel as if other pockets of time have opened up.

I know this Moonflower bloomed a couple days ago for the first time but this is the first open bloom I have seen.

This morning, for example, I found a few extra minutes to wander in my garden before my work day began. 

A Zephyr Lily about to open.  Maybe tomorrow morning I will have a chance to check on its progress.

Most of the design-oriented blogs and books I have read suggest planting colors that will look good during the time of day that you are most likely to actually be in your garden.  I always thought that time was going to be late evening so I have planted a lot of whites and pale blues. 

I know containers "should" have a thriller, a filler, and a spiller but I gravitate toward the spillers.
This container includes both sweet potato vine and bacopa.

But more and more I am finding time to enjoy the garden in the morning.  The light is soft and gentle.  It is quiet in my neighborhood.  There are fewer things competing for my attention.  There is still water on the plants.  It feels tranquil and contemplative. 

Water glistens on the late summer growth of an Acer palmatum var. dissectum 'Orangeola'.

I have noticed, too, that when I take a stroll in the morning, I am less likely to feel compelled to do something.  In the morning, I don’t need to prune the roses, pick the weeds, sweep the patio, or move a clump of grass because there will be time and enough daylight for those things later. 

This is a phlox hybrid called 'Intensia Blueberry' by Proven Winners.  It's a new plant for me.
It could use some deadheading, but there will be time for that later on.

As autumn approaches, as the summer sun sets earlier, as the heat begins to relinquish its sway, I am thankful for extra time because I know that a gardener’s fall is filled with new chores, new things blooming, and new ideas.  I want to taste and to savor these beautiful mornings and stolen moments.  I want to have my fill and get fat on them because I know that soon enough the memories of these moments will need to sustain me until spring when everything, including softball, begins again.    

Acer palmatum 'Bloodgood' - A common Japanese maple with uncommonly beautiful coloring in spring and fall.

This is my back corner bed.  It is filled with plants and it is filled with chores.
But this morning I just enjoyed it and didn't try to edit anything.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Drought Tolerant Plants Can Be Trouble

Photo Credit: kconnors on Morguefile
Looking for a drought tolerant plant that will stay green all summer?  How about growing Cannabis sativa then? 

Apparently, it's called "weed" for a reason.  According to the AP, police in Indiana have had an easy time spotting grow sites while flying over "browning forests and corn fields" this summer because the green plant sticks out like a sore thumb. 

If you are worried about the legality of planting your own crop, I suggest planting corn around it so you can feign ignorance.  Apparently that keeps most land owners from getting arrested. 

Click HERE for a link to the news report. 

All kidding aside, I thought I'd poke around the Internet and see if I could learn a few things about marijuana that weren't taught in Cheech and Chong movies.

The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation has some interesting facts on their web site.  For instance:
  • Benjamin Franklin started a paper mill using cannabis which allowed them to have a colonial press free from English control. 
  • Archaeologists believe that Cannabis was being cultivated by humans as long as 12,000 years ago.
  • "Sativa" is the Latin word for "useful".   
  • Apparently the US Government distributed 400,000 pounds of Cannabis seeds to farmers to aid in the war effort.  It doesn't say, but I'm guessing that was for the hemp and not for our soldier's glaucoma.
From other sites that may or may not be worth trusting turned up these tidbits:
  • Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag using hemp. 
  • The War of 1812 was fought over hemp because Napoleon wanted to cut off Moscow's export of it to England.
  • In 1916 the U.S. Government predicted that hemp would replace trees as the primary source for paper by the 1940s.  It was believed that 1 acre of marijuana could produce the same amount of paper as 4.1 acres of trees. 
  • Three men (with ulterior motives?) are credited with making hemp production illegal: Henry J. Anslinger, head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics; Lammot DuPont, owner of the largest chemical company at the time; and William Randolph Hearst, a newspaper owner. 
And my favorite "fact" I will quote exactly as I found it on the Internet:
The pot plant is an ALIEN plant. There is physical evidence that cannabis is not like any other plant on this planet. One could conclude that it was brought here for the benefit of humanity. Hemp is the ONLY plant where the males appear one way and the females appear very different, physically! No one ever speaks of males and females in regard to the plant kingdom because plants do not show their sexes; except for cannabis. To determine what sex a certain, normal, Earthly plant is: You have to look internally, at its DNA. A male blade of grass (physically) looks exactly like a female blade of grass. The hemp plant has an intense sexuality. Growers know to kill the males before they fertilize the females. Yes, folks…the most potent pot comes from ‘horny females.
From what I gathered, hemp does seem like it could be a useful crop.  I hadn't realized how wide the range of hemp products is.  But I've read similar claims about bamboo, so while the legalization of marijuana remains a hot button issue in the U.S., we might as well promote the use of bamboo in the meantime.  Besides, Americans are already overweight, the last thing we need is to be growing Cannabis and getting the munchies later on. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

We Do One Thing at the Cost of Not Doing Another

A Stanley Marsh 3 road sign pretty well sums up
my view of the way time is passing.
I keep staring at my blog and thinking, “It’s been two weeks since I’ve written something. I should write something.”  And then I see on my blog roll that someone else has updated their blog and off I go. 

It’s not that I don’t want to write something or that I don’t have things to write about; I do.  It’s just that I’ve been busy with some things and lazy about other things. 

William Barrett wrote in his landmark study of Existential philosophy, Irrational Man, that “we know one thing at the cost of not knowing another.”  I concur.  But I would add to this that we could replace the words “know” and “knowing” with several other concepts and it would still be true.

We do one thing at the cost of not doing another.
We esteem one thing at the cost of not esteeming another.
We love one thing at the cost of not loving another.

This truth has been acutely evident in my life lately.  I have played in softball tournaments at the cost of not having Saturday’s in the garden.  I have spent lunch hours running to the Post Office to mail off eBay sales at the cost of not snapping garden photos.  I have spent those extra two minutes here and there playing Words with Friends at the cost of not taking the food scraps out to the compost bin.  I have been reading "A Year of Wonders" and "The Monsters and the Critics" instead of "Fine Gardening" and "Horticulture." 

How people spend their time and their money is the most visible barometer of what matters to them.  And lately, I have to say that I’m not feeling all that great about how I’ve been spending my time and I'm ready to get back to what feels right to me.  But first I have some commitments this weekend.  I will help a friend bring home some bookshelves (the curse of owning a truck), I will celebrate a wedding and I will attend a meeting.  These are good things, of course, but they take time.   

So I am also going to take a day off and make it a 3-day weekend.  And I plan on using at least some of that extra time to do one thing (gardening) at the cost of not doing several other things.

And I can hardly wait. 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Lessons Learned from the Aftermath

This may not be true for you, but it’s true for me: no home improvement project is ever as easy as it should be.  It doesn’t matter if it’s putting in a ceiling fan, fixing a broken doorbell, or replacing the screen in a window.  It’s either going to be an extremely frustrating task or the completion of the task will lead to a need for a new project.

“Hey, let’s get new closet doors!” sounds like a great idea.  And then you figure out that it means repainting the molding around the closet or tearing out carpet for a bottom runner, or some other unforeseeable alteration.

So when I’m out of my league on something I’m not embarrassed to call in the professionals for help.  Such was the case with the removal of two large trees last week.  But truth is truth and the removal of my trees has, predictably, led to more work than I could have imagined.

One of the main reasons I removed the mulberry tree was the aggressiveness of the roots.  Twice in recent years the roots had grown enough to actually crush the PVC pipes of my in-ground irrigation system.  Although I knew it was a possibility that the arborists would hit the sprinkler line while grinding away the stump and surface roots, I guess part of me was hoping that they would miraculously miss them.

The night they left I turned on the sprinklers to find out.  No miracles here.  In fact, all three of the buried lines had damage. 

Long story short: I went to Home Depot six times this weekend, I have sore “muscles” (such as they are), my yard looks like it was the site of an errant drone strike, and I have a renewed appreciation for anyone that is skilled at putting in sprinklers. 

I continue to learn from my mistakes though.  Here are a few of the lessons I learned:
  • If you are going to deprive shade plants of their only source of shade, the wise thing to do is to move them before cutting down the tree rather than a week after – sorry about that, Hostas!
  • Just because you have 30 feet of 1-inch PVC pipe in your garage doesn’t mean that the PVC pipe under your grass is 1-inch PVC pipe.  (That would explain one of the trips to Home Depot.)
  • If you think you might need four 90 degree connectors, you might as well get eight.  Or 12 just to be safe.  (That would explain two of the trips to Home Depot.) 
  • Never say: “This part should only take 45 minutes.”  Start with 2 hours and anything faster than that just makes you look more efficient. 
  • Never turn down an offer to help, even if it’s from a toddler.  Having someone hand you a tool that’s just out of reach is actually pretty nice even if it means you have to field a constant barrage of questions you can’t answer.