Bzzzz September 25th, 2009

It is a season of changes.  Not only is the weather cooling, life is changing here.

Benjamin, my only child (my baby!), has gone off to college at The Citadel.  He is the third generation on his dad’s side to attend college there. When he graduates, he will wear “The Ring” with his dad, uncles, great uncles and cousins. He knew what to expect going there. He is well-prepared for the challenge. And he seems to thrive on the manly camaraderie of the place.

That still didn’t stop me from crying for pretty much the first week while he was gone. The tears were drawn from a combination of missing him, worrying about him and being disoriented by the new direction of my life as an empty-nester.

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Sweet autumn clematis blooms over the garden gate in September

I have stopped crying now, but am still trying to navigate a life with a 50% reduction in the number of men I need to take care of on a daily basis.

In other changes, Harry has left private practice and gone back to work for the government. The book I was co-writing this summer, Grocery Gardening, is finally off my desk. The six new baby chicks will be laying in about another month–leaving us with 10 – 12 eggs a day to dispose of. And I have major new work and writing assignments to keep me busy.

Oh, the garden?

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Garlic chives and pineapple sage duke it out in the herb bed

I can’t say this has been my most productive or meticulous garden year. There were so many distractions and challenges that kept me out of the garden. Still, Mother Nature was forgiving for just this year. The work from past years has paid off, as perennials continued to bloom, flowers to re-seed and the overall bones of the raised beds, fences and arbor to hold it all together. I don’t think I can continue this type of neglect next year and still hold my head up as a gardener though.


The hakuro nashiki willow standard needs a haircut--but then it ALWAYS seems to need a haircut. The tuteur is covered with malabar spinach and scarlet runner beans.

Now, as weather cools and all these darned changes slow down just long enough for me to catch my breath, I am enjoying being out in the garden, putting in fall vegetables and tidying up for the winter to come.


I just broadcast a mix of lettuce seeds for this pretty little bed. What a treat to pick our salads each night.

I’m actually looking forward to winter now. I have a fancy new cold frame to put together this weekend. I’m setting up the light garden in the basement to grow microgreens. Cooking projects, sewing projects, writing projects and, of course, visits to The Citadel and Ben’s visits home are going to keep me busy.


That's amaranthe leaning against the tuteur where the henryi clematis grows.

Overall, I’m still living the good life. It’s a life of transitions, but it’s a good life.

(You can click on an image for a larger version of the photo.)

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Bzzzz July 12th, 2009

I’m going to call my next book Why Bad Things Happen to Good Gardeners.***

The first chapter will be entitled “Sh*t Happens and Mother Nature is on Vacation.” It will be an indignant rant about how disease, pestilence, drought, flood and other natural disasters inevitably happen to every gardener sooner or later.

I will use my own experiences as examples. I will discuss how my tomatoes have fursarium wilt—for the second year in a row, despite rotating them to an entirely new location where tomatoes have never gone before. I will describe how a legion of leaf-footed bugs decimated my tomatillos and sweet autumn clematis last year and how I haven’t seen a single one this year. I will show photos of my monarda blooming with powdery mildew.

And let’s not forget the roses, otherwise known as black spot on a stick.


The title of the second chapter is currently up in the air, but I’m considering something such as “Plants Have Loved and Lost” or “Emergency Rooms I Have Seen, Courtesy of My Fiskars Pruners.”

*big sigh*

As I was watering for hours and hours today (see chapter on drought), I was wondering to myself, “What would I do if I didn’t garden?’

Being fairly obsessed with productivity and in love with checks in little boxes on a to-do list, I would probably do something useful. But what?

I’m not considering giving up gardening. This is more like an intellectual exercise I do when I get frustrated. What would you do?

***Why do I say “next book?” Because, yes, I am writing a book. To be precise, I’m co-authoring a book currently called Grocery Gardening. You’ll be hearing more about it in coming months, but you can reserve your copy now by ordering here.

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