Sunday, December 21, 2008

Enter to win Big Prizes!

I'm taking a poll. And I'd sincerely appreciate your input. In fact, I'm prepared to bribe you for your participation.

Some background: My first plant crush was a peace lily. While I've moved beyond the Spathiphyllum, I still love indoor plants and wouldn't be without them. Couldn't be without them. I realize many gardeners take an extended break in winter, putting aside their pruners and gloves till spring comes 'round again, but not me. Now is when I focus on my indoor landscape, and over the next few months you'll be getting your fill of houseplant posts.

But back to my poll. I'm a houseplant expert. There, I admit it. I'm working on a book proposal for a houseplant book. A very big houseplant book. A houseplant book that includes everything anyone could ever want to know about every possible houseplant. What I want to know is: What are YOU looking for in a houseplant book?

Send me your ideas and inspirations, and if I haven't already thought of them (you'll have to trust me on this), I'll give you a prize. In exchange for your suggestion, I'll send you a copy of my CD: Green Up Time: A Botanical Look at Broadway. It's a collection of show tunes about flowers and plants; a project that combines my first career (on B'way) with my second (in horticulture). If you want to listen to a few excerpts to see if it's worth your while, go here.

If you already have a copy of my CD (what are the chances?!) let me know and I'll come up with some other swell thank you gift. I look forward to hearing from you. Really, I do.

I've posted this same entry on both my blogs because I want to reach as many people as possible. If you read both blogs I apologize for the duplication.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

from icicles to shirt sleeves

Mid-December and I'm working in my t-shirt! Not that I'm complaining but it feels a little weird.

I dropped the ball this year and scheduled too many speaking engagements in November. I should have reserved that time for putting my clients' gardens to bed but instead I was off on a whirlwind tour of upstate NY, NJ, and Long Island. I especially enjoyed this flurry of activity because I gave two of my less-requested (don't ask me why) lectures: Gardens of the Gods (plants in Greek mythology and literature) and Medincinal Native Plants.

It was great fun, but I was caught short when it came time to close down the gardens and I ended up having to rush and not doing as wonderful a job as I should have done. It pains me to admit that. Really it does.

Yesterday I saw a window of opportunity to make things right and I jumped on it. The day was sunny, temperatures were in the mid 60s, and I headed for the plant market where I picked up pepper berry, incense cedar, and some ponderosa pine cones. Then I jumped on the subway to the Upper West Side where I gave a winter makeover to some very bare window boxes.

Next I dashed over to the East Side and spruced up a curbside garden with some white pine and winterberry.

It was a long day, but when I woke up this morning to temps in the 30s and snowflakes so big they looked like cartoons, I knew I'd done the right thing. At last.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

icicle castanets

If you step outside our house this morning you'll hear a fast, light clicking. It's the sound of small, ice-coated branches hitting against each other in the breeze. It's been that way for two days and fortunately the ice is light and the wind not too strong, because we haven't lost power...this time.

We heat with wood in winter, so losing the electric wouldn't kill us, but because we frequently DO lose power we've got a battery operated radio, a large propane burner, some oil lamps, and a storage battery that can keep the lights on (and a crock pot perking) for hours.

Up in NH (home of most of the people we're related to) they've declared a state of emergency and more than 400,000 households are without power. It's been dark, cold, and quiet without the hum of appliances and the ping of email. Here's hoping the lights (and the heat) come on soon.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Kyra lives

About this time two years ago our cat Kyra died very suddenly. It was a roller coaster of fear, relief, then shock and grief.

We buried her in the front garden, her favorite sunny spot.

The next summer I decided to make that bed an edible garden. I planted a large Yucca filamentosa over Kyra's grave, thinking it would have structure and winter interest, a four-season, living memorial. (My idea of an edible plant may not be everybody's idea of an edible plant...but yucca flowers are edible and it's my garden so I decide.)

That yucca had languished in the back bed for years. Plenty of sun but missing something. Apparently that something was Kyra. When the yucca's roots met up with Kyra they must have screamed with joy because that plant has grown like nothing else in my garden. It more than doubled in size in its first season. Whenever we see it we think of Kyra. And please note the symbol at the top right of the stone marker. Neither Michael nor I scratched it there, and yet...

We won't live in this house forever, and I've thought I'll be sad to leave her grave behind. But now I know we can take the yucca with us. The yucca that is part Kyra because surely she has fed its roots and stems and leaves as much as she fed our hearts.