Tree of the Week
Northern Catalpa: Rarely Unnoticed
By James R. Fazio | November 7, 2017
Catalpa is a hard tree to overlook. Trumpet-shaped flowers herald its awakening for the summer and are soon followed by some of the largest leaves in the northern hemisphere. Elephant ears would not be too far off the mark for their description. Finally come the seed pods — bean-like in shape draping the tree like green tinsel.
There are two key species of catalpa in the United States — southern and northern catalpa. Originally, southern catalpa was more widespread, but when the pioneers discovered the northern species in a very limited area of the Midwest, it didn’t take long to realize that this one grew larger and could tolerate colder winters better. Thanks to its fast growth and rot-resistant wood — and a promotional campaign by Nebraska governor Robert W. Furnas, a contemporary of J. Sterling Morton — farmers began planting it for fence posts and to sell as rai..
Gardeners in the play “Native Gardens”
My recent rant about stereotypes of gardeners in a new play got me thinking about the images of gardeners used in advertising and elsewhere. The garden-club-competing gardeners in the play typify the demographic so often used to portray us – white and elderly.
More of the same can be found by searching “gardener” at istockphoto, where these images of older women especially bug me because they convey the surprising (to all real gardeners) impression that gardening is about fussing over flowers. You and I know that gardening requires hard work – digging, hauling, and wrestling branches with pruning tools.
Thankfully, iStock’s offerings include more diversity than just older white women.
On Google image there are plenty of young people and quite a bit of pruning going on.
Searching “gardener” on Shutterstock yields mostly super-fake images of gardens and just a few actual people, most of them young.
Pexel’s gardener images are even stranger, st..
6 Haunted Forests Perfect for Thrills
By Sheereen Othman | October 31, 2017
Some of the most breathtaking natural wonders of the world are found deep in forests. Pristine lakes, towering trees, and scenic views attract thousands of tourists to these protected sites. But many of these sites are filled with hauntings pasts.
Here are six forests that are rumored to be haunted. For the bold and daring, these are perfect for quick thrills.
Life hack: don’t hike in secluded forests by yourself.
Robinson Woods, Illinois
Robinson Woods is now a forest preserve, but at one time the land was given to the family of Alexander Robinson. Robinson was the chief of several Native American tribes who helped save people during the Fort Dearborn Massacre. It was promised he would be buried there when he died with the rest of his family. The City broke its promise and buried Robinson somewhere else. It is said that his spirit haunts the woods. There are numerous accounts of a “..
Pre-blog, my garden practice gets lost in the fog of history. I know I started gardening seriously in 1999, when we bought property, but I am not quite sure exactly what I was doing month by month until 2005, when I started documenting it with a blog. And that’s the only reason I started; it wasn’t to rant, exactly, though that came naturally early on. It was to keep track of what I was doing.
Now, I don’t much care about keeping track, but I was wondering when I started bulb forcing en masse, which has been my normal fall gardening activity for some time. I see an ebay “you won!” email for a vintage forcing glass from 2003, so it must have been at least since then. After about ten glasses froze, I stopped putting those in the root cellar, instead just pulling bulbs from soil and transferring them to the glasses when the time was right.
I know that not too many gardeners bother with any of this; many find the bulb-chilling period too onerous, and, I am sure, think the whole process i..
From left: dogwood and winterberry. bark of three-flowered maple.
Gardening offers me an outside recipe for inner peace, or at least the opportunity to go hide on our screened-in back porch and ponder the meaning of life, mortality and the furrowed bark and brilliant fall colors of our three-flowered maple.
I look out, and the pink and white dogwood trees I planted almost 40 years ago at a time and place in life where I was as uncertain and vulnerable as they are now fully grown, their arching limbs solid and secure, and yet still reaching out beyond all that toward whatever must be.
I sit alone on that porch of our 150-year-old farmhouse and see a once bare and weedy landscape flowing with such home-made history, promise and fate, becoming every day more aware it’s all passing me by. What began with my hands will quite soon be out of my hands.
My recipe to deal with that approaching finality is to enjoy the moment, to look out where the dogwood limbs almost touch the bright-red fr..
Though not a big theater-goer, I HAD to see the comedy “Native Gardens” when it played in DC because it’s about next-door neighbors representing different demographics and attitudes toward gardening. I’ll admit that I laughed, but the stereotypes in the play – of people and of plants – bugged me no end.
First, the dueling couples. The people on the right are passionate about their garden, involved in the local gardening community, and enter their garden in the Potomac Horticultural Society’s garden contest every year. They’re old, white, a defense contractor and a retired bureaucrat, and just in case we’re not sure what to think of them, we learn that they’re Republican. Are they representative of gardeners today or negative stereotype from another era? Either way, I’m offended.
The couple on the left are the opposite in many ways, and clearly the darlings of the playwright and the audience. They’re young, Latinos, a successful lawyer and his PhD candidate wife who advocates for nati..
Every day on my way to work, I always look at a certain house, just before I make my final turn. It is the one vibrant spot of color on a block, which, though perfectly nice, is typified by sedate, small front lawns and a few foundation plantings. But these people. These people are gardeners and plant lovers. They start with daffodils and tulips in April/May and continue with perennials and roses throughout the summer. But, interestingly, you don‘t really notice the roses until very late in the season, when they are almost the only plants blooming. The image here shows what they look like at the chilly, rainy end of October, with Halloween 5 days away. (I didn’t get too close because I do not know the homeowners and didn’t want to be lurking around their property. ) I love that the roses are different heights—not just one big planting of Knock-Outs, for instance.
Roses en masse never look that great as a composition; their individual forms show up better in close-up. But still, as Nov..
Rose and ‘Heavenly Blue’ morning glory.
Albert Camus nearly got it right when he wrote: “Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is in flower.” The French philosopher didn’t clutter a good line with what really blossoms in autumn for many gardeners. In practical terms, with cooler temperatures, the weeds wind down.
This year, in Kentucky, just when we were relieved of day-after-day October temperatures well above normal, the ping-pong competition heated up.
No telling what the absurdist-minded Camus might have thought of ping-pong. That may have been a more fitting subject for his colleague Samuel Beckett.
Peter Vaananen captured the Millwood Cup.
My neighbor Mac Reid and I play a couple of games each week in my Salvisa barn, as long as it’s not freezing cold. From the first white blooming snowdrops in February until the last weeping willow drops its leaves in November, we are battling for ping-pong dominion in north Mercer County.
After another season of trash talk..
Tree of the Week
Sugar Maple: A Sweet Reward
By James R. Fazio | October 24, 2017
Europeans were long familiar with the qualities of the maple wood. Species growing in the old world were used for the unpleasantness of pikes and lances. Imagine the happy surprise to find a maple in the New World from which fine furniture could be crafted and from which sugar could be produced in great quantity. So great, in fact, that it became an important commodity to sell or trade for merchandise in the early years of our country.
Explorers had learned of “sugaring” from the Iroquois and other Native people. To the Natives, one of the luxuries of life was eating “sapsicles,” the icicles of frozen maple sap that for from the end of a broken twig.
Natives also set up early spring camps in maple groves and collected sap from V-shaped gashes they would cut in the trunks. Since metal boiling pots were not available, they would laboriously boil down the sap by dropping heated..
Arbor Day Member Stories
Arbor Day Member Story: Leon & Judy Tupy
By Arbor Day Foundation | October 23, 2017
A Visit to Arbor Day Farm Inspires Members to Make Major Gift
Leon’s special respect for the environment and his connection with trees and agriculture began as a young man working side by side with his father on their Iowa farm. “I’ve always had this deep appreciation for trees and the land,” says Leon.
After many years of being Arbor Day Foundation members and making several trips through Nebraska, Leon and Judy Tupy of Boulder, Colorado, decided to stop and visit Arbor Day Farm and Lied Lodge & Conference Center in Nebraska City.
“The place was much more than we expected, and our expectations were quite high,” says Leon. “We had read about Arbor Day Farm in our member newsletters, but our visit and being there in person was truly inspiring. You can see that it’s all about the mission of conservation and environmental education, for all ages. Clearly, Arbor Day ..