Monday, November 12, 2007

Back in the Swing

After missing most of the fall season traveling, I had a chance to start catching up today. Leaves to rake, lawn to mow (not much lawn left, luckily), and some of the spent perennials to cut back. I got most of the peony foliage into trash bags - a few of those still need to be cut back - and most of the overly aggressive Verbena bonariensis, Eupatorium purpureum (Joe Pye Weed), Antirrhinum majus (snapdragon), and Malva alcea volunteers cut down to the ground, run through the chipper, and put into the compost - where they will make great top-dressing and (no doubt) many new volunteers for next year.

Being away from my garden during part of our short growing season is no fun, but it gives me a chance to catch my breath, repair my aching back, and take stock of what I have done and what I want to do with my little in-town garden. This time, it also gave me a chance to see some great city gardens in Charleston, SC, as well as the fantastic Galapagos Islands (though only briefly!) Walking around the old section of Charleston, I was really struck by how much beauty gardeners can create on a small plot of land. I noticed that in many yards, the areas used for parking cars double as garden space. There's no blacktop in sight, the paving materials are aged and the paving looks somewhat haphazard: very different from what we see in New England.

My own driveway is stone, and it's always sprouting weeds. An informal arrangement of pavers seems like a great alternative.

Another benefit of traveling: I appreciate the relatively minor problem insects present in northern climates. This fellow came aboard our ship when we were in Panama; the grill he's clinging to is a 2 inch wire grid:

He's got to be about 6 inches long, in the grasshopper family, I think he's a Tropidacris dux, or Giant Grasshopper. Can you imagine gardening with anything this size chomping on your plants?

Anyway, great to be back in the garden after five or six weeks of work on a ship!


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