22 June 2009

the week that was

Accomplished during last week (vacation!):

Saturday–Monday: Spent a long weekend with B at a friend’s house in Rhode Island to celebrate the 13th anniversary of our first date. Lolled about on the beach, ate fried clams, drove up the coast, visited Kinney Azalea Gardens in Kingston. A wonderful start to the vacation.

Tuesday: Trucked eight large carts of compost down to the flower bed by the road. In the spring this bed is filled with daffodils, whose ripening leaves are really beginning to bug me now as they look so messy. For the past three summers I’ve been planting out red zinnias in at least half the bed. This year, the entire bed will be filled with zinnias (mostly red, some green—Merry Christmas!—as well as a yet-to-be-revealed color from seeds I collected last fall). The seed packets say germination occurs in 7–10 days. I planted ours on Tuesday late afternoon and saw the first sprouts on Sunday morning. Psyche!

Wednesday: Extended the dahlia bed by the chicken coop and dug in two large carts of compost to accommodate eight dahlia plants as well as three hills of melons. I know, I know, an odd combination, but that bed gets a lot of sun and I think the melons will do well there. Planted the following on Wednesday afternoon: “Gallery Galia,” “Solid Gold Cantaloupe,” and “Earlidew Honeydew” seeds from Renee’s Garden Seeds. These are supposed to ripen in 85 days, which would be, gulp, 10 September. Oh well, good luck to us all! Planted out “Bloodstone” and “White Fawn” dahlias in the perennial bed and then “Andries Orange,” “Clair de Lune,” “Giraffe,” “Kaiser Wilhelm,” two “Little Beeswings,” “Winsome,” and “Yellow Gem” (that makes eight) in the extended dahlia bed. This year I didn’t crowd them in as much as I did last year, so we’ll see how that goes. Behind and above will be morning glories (“Black Knight” and “Heavenly Blue”) and moonflowers. Nobody said this would be an especially subtle or well-coordinated bed. At this point in my gardening life, I just want to grow lots and lots of dahlias and be shocked and amazed by all the color (I’m particularly looking forward to “Giraffe” and “Winsome”).

Note to self: Last year I planted the dahlias out on 1 June; this year, 18 June, more than two weeks later. I could have planted them the weekend of 6 June, but I was at the house for an overnight only and we’d just had a late frost the week before, so I was a little skeered. Fingers crossed that these guys grow like crazy now and that we’ll have blooms sometime in July.

Thursday: Spent a rainy day recovering from carting and digging in the ten loads of compost on Tuesday and Wednesday. By mid-day, I had recovered enough to take a drive out to Watkins Nursery in Glens Falls where I bought a castor bean plant. I know, I know: Poisonous! But I’ve always wanted to grow this. B has planted it behind the bench in his vegetable garden (irony), and we’ve promised we won’t accidentally poison ourselves with castor bean soup. (I realize that someone somewhere has probably already won a Darwin Award doing something like that; even so I guess it isn’t especially funny . . . Oh, come on.)

Friday: Went with B and Betty to West Dover, Vermont, to attend the Fourteenth Annual North Hill Symposium, where we heard presentations by Wayne Winterrowd, Joe Eck, Bill Thomas of Chanticleer Garden near Philadelphia, Ken Druse, sculptor and gardener Marcia Donahue from California, and Carol Reese from the University of Tennessee. The theme of the symposium was “Art, Wit, and Whimsy in the Garden,” and the day was exhausting but wonderful. Loved especially Wayne Winterrowd’s reminiscences of growing up and becoming a gardender in Louisiana, Bill Thomas’s photographs of the gardens at Chanticleer (lots of inspiration), and Carol Reese’s sense of humor and joy. I think of gardening as a mostly solitary pursuit, so it was amazing and all kinds of wonderful to see so many gardeners in one place at one time. At lunch we sat across from a Woodstock, Vermont, gardener who had brought her three gardening assistants with her. Hard. Core.

Saturday: Went with B and Betty to Readsboro, Vermont, to tour Joe Eck and Wayne Winterrowd’s garden at North Hill. Pictures to come. Amazing.

Sunday: Sang at church and then went home to plant a Chionanthus virginicus (also called Fringe Tree or Old Man’s Beard) that B and I bought on Saturday afternoon after reading about it months ago, seeing it for sale at the symposium on Friday (a nursery there was selling it), and coming across it in situ at North Hill. What an absolutely gorgeous small tree. We planted ours near the prayer shack. Betty generously offered to water it for us this week. Thank you, Betty!


  1. Wow - what a week! And to think you were so close and yet so far from Blithewold! (In RI geography, south county is daytrip away from the east bay...) I'll look forward to meeting hopefully the next time you're relatively nearby! And given this year's weather, I don't think this is too late at all for putting in dahlias. I'm sure they'll still bloom right on schedule (assuming we ever see the sun again)...

  2. Anonymous11:10 AM

    Gosh you have been busy. Don't come South. It's so hot we can fry eggs on the sidewalk.

  3. Kris, for such a small state, it sure takes a while to get places! We made a stop at Farmer's Daughter Nursery, too, after we visited Kinney's. A little pricey, but just wonderful displays of plants. I think we actually were where you are; we had dinner that same day at Evelyn's on the water. Darn it, darn it! I wish I'd remembered Blithewold!!!

    Anna, as soon as it heats up, everything will begin to leap, I hope! Stay cool! Fan yourself with a cleome leaf!