Let’s Put This Year to Bed Before We Have Next Year Harvested, Okay?

I adore garden catalogs. Back before I had a garden, I pored over garden catalogs as if they were aspirational reading (correction: from the time I was a child, I was always growing something. What I meant was when I was still growing perennials, trees & vegetables in containers  on a balcony and  not in the ground–although that too can be a perfectly good garden if you’re happy with it. I  wasn’t.)

I learned most of my botanical Latin from poring over these same garden catalogs. It just sort of stuck with me.

But these days it seems, like so much else, the catalogs not only arrive earlier and earlier and they practically promise harvests before things are planted.

And then there are microgreens. Plant today,  harvest this weekend ( well, not quite, but almost.  In most cases, you can begin harvesting by Monday.)

And of course with hoop houses, poly tunnels and the like (never mind our changing climate patterns) we plant earlier and harvest later than ever before.

There is still a reason that I live in a place with seasons, particularly as I age. It’s to give me a rest. I don’t want to garden year round  (other than in the house, with my collection of hundreds of house plants).

So while I adore seeing all the seed and plant catalogs come in, please do not expect me to placing tomato seed orders before New Years. Let me finish out one year before I begin thinking of the next.

We’re Not All Born With This Knowledge–or Ranting At The Rant-ers

A recent post on Garden Rant again had me just shaking my head in disbelief. It was a post that took offense to the phrase “Thriller, Filler, Spiller” which is an easy way to describe a way to plant containers.

The post, which can be read in its entirety here, was by one of the newer “ranters,” Ivette Soler. And like everything on Garden Rant, it was well done and even amusing. She makes her point that the phrase is over used.

But as a garden writer, and lecturer and one who spent several years in the retail garden industry, I can tell you that we need these short hand phrases for a lot of reasons. Perhaps this one is over-done and needs to be retired. But how else to tediously explain time and time again that a great classic container combination begins with a tall plant in the center, then has one or several mid-level plants surrounding that tall plants, and then, at the edge of the pot, has few trailing plants to complete the look?

In my part of the world, I can reference the “geranium-vinca-spike” combination as a shorthand reference rather than use the dreaded words. And then I tell folks, “And now it’s time to get creative. Instead of the spike, here are the plants that work….” You get the idea.

I’ve come up with several other “short-hand” ways to help customers remember things such as when to fertilize with an acid loving fertilizer (I am in New England and we do have all those broad-leafed evergreens that want to “wake up ” and “go to sleep” with that stuff). I would tell them a good gauge would be Income Tax day and Halloween–remember to fertilize around those dates and they’d be fine.

Gardeners today are busier and more distracted than ever. They need to have neat and tidy reminders of things–and they need help! So many of the customers at the garden center would be almost apologetic asking questions. No one should ever have to feel that way, particularly about gardening! It’s supposed to be fun!

The last thing we need is folks taking away helpful reminders because they are trite or they rhyme. As garden writers, we need to be encouraging gardeners, not belittling them!

A Rant on “Fall Decorating”

Actually, I’m not ranting so much on fall decorating–I’ll get to that in a moment. What I really don’t get–and it’s that I’m ranting on for the moment here–is Halloween decorating.

Halloween decorating–indoors and out–is now the second most profitable, if you want to put it that way, holiday for retailers. What on earth? Or maybe I mean under the earth? What are we celebrating?

I’m all for having fun and I’m all for letting kids safely celebrate the holiday–but what I do not get is these homes that go all out and turn themselves into miniature haunted houses. Some almost provoke car crashes they are so elaborate (and yes, I know the same thing happens at Christmas with the Christmas light extravaganzas–that too is way too over the top for me!)

One Halloween house nearby even gets political with its theme–the owner is a history professor or something. Oh puh-leez! While I certainly admire the creativity and hours of work that go into this fiasco, I find the whole thing bizarre and macabre.

But then again, I’ve never been into horror movies or films.

The thing I’m a little less conflicted about–but I still wonder about–is the autumn decorating thing. What’s with all these suburban homes decorating themselves up with corn stalks and hay bales and pumpkins and scarecrows until you’d think you were back on the farm–until you drive 10 feet and you realize, “oh no, it’s just another suburban tract home that’s run amok with farm decorating again?”

Mind you, the fall look can be beautifully done–but what’s up with that? We don’t live anywhere near farms. And while I’m not adverse to a pumpkin now and again gracing my property (although if it doesn’t rain, there’s no way I’ll indulge because the squirrels will be after that thing before it’s on my stoop for 3 days!) there’s no way you’ll find me indulging in corn stalks, hay bales and scarecrows–not sustainable, for one thing, and not really appropriate for my “sense of place.”

It’s my Mom and sister who live in Oklahoma, not me.

I can’t imagine why, when I and my neighbors live in New England, home of some of the most beautiful foliage shows in the world, my neighbors would choose to import all the trappings of farm life to their very colonial New England properties.

But, I guess I just have to fall back on my favorite saying here: If we all liked the same thing what a boring world we’d have!

Happy Autumn–however you celebrate–and decorate!

A Garden Rant

As I was doing some errands today, I drove by a lovely Victorian home with a hanging planter.  If you can believe it, the planter was a Topsy Turvy Tomato Planter and the dead tomato was still hanging out the bottom!

Now we tend to let things go a little too long here in New England.  In fact, when I was moving up here, I was looking at the area in Mid-March.  And I couldn’t figure out why so many homes still had wreaths and greenery still up.  I now leave my wreaths and greenery up until the end of “meteorological winter” (or the end of February), although I haven’t been able to part with this one yet.

But I could never leave a dead plant from last summer hanging on my front porch to stare me in the face all winter!  Oh well–to each her own!