A Belated Goodbye by Thomas Christopher

One of the basic rules of gardens is that if you leave, you don’t return. In this respect, I have found, involvement with a garden is like a love affair. A crucial part of making a success of the experience is having the clarity to know when it is over, and there is nothing more foolish than trying to relive it afterwards. At best in revisiting an old garden you will find that it has gone on just fine without you, and what you once knew intimately now belongs to someone else. That is painful. What is worse is the more common situation of finding the garden either neglected or simply gone, erased. That’s a little death. Or maybe a considerable one in this case. For the garden I returned to had been the focus of my life for ten years. It was a grand old estate on the Hudson River Palisades that had been donated to Columbia University, which had turned it into a research campus for its geologists. The estate had been neglected almost entirely for twenty years when I arrived on the scene..
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How Trees Help Your Coffee

Arbor Day Coffee Featured How Trees Help Your Coffee By Jon Ferguson | December 5, 2016 Jon Ferguson our Coffee Quality Specialist, spoke with Tg-Lab —a Guatemalan owned and operated coffee laboratory dedicated to the creation of specialty coffee — about Agroforestry on a recent trip to Guatemala. Jon explains how agroforestry impacts the way we farm and produce coffee. Shade-grown coffee offers numerous benefits to the surrounding environment and is more sustainable than coffee grown under the sun. The quality of the coffee bean is higher when it’s grown under the shade of trees because coffee ripens at a slower pace, allowing sugars to develop inside the coffee cherry. Learn more about Arbor Day Foundation coffee and what we’re doing to preserve rain forests. What is Coffee Cupping? Find out here! AgroforestryArbor Day CoffeecoffeeShade-Grown Coffee 0 Comments Share: facebook twitter pinterest googleplus linkedin Jon Ferguson ..
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New Podcast Discovery: “Still Growing” by Susan Harris

I’ve complained about the dearth of gardening podcasts and one of my favorites seems to have even gone dormant. But when I came across three podcasts about this year’s Garden Blogger Fling in Minneapolis, which I actually attended, I had to give a listen, and so discovered probably the hardest working gardening podcaster in the U.S. – Jennifer Ebeling – and her Still Growing Podcast on the site 6ftmama.com (The episodes are all here and also on iTunes and your favorite podcast app – mine is Overcast..) And as someone who’d rather wrestle with poison ivy than speak publicly, I was struck by Jennifer’s on-air talent. I wanted to learn more and as busy as she is, she saved over an hour for me to pick her brain on the phone, and I got quite an education in podcasting – and about a really interesting woman. While about half of all blogs are by women, only 12 percent of podcasters are. In fact, there are 7,500 female bloggers to one female podcaster, but those few have a support community..
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Disaster in the Smokies by Elizabeth Licata

From the top of Old Smoky A national park since 1926, the Great Smokies at times seem overshadowed by the spectacular parks of the west: Zion, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone. In fact, a list I saw of the best national parks only includes one park in the eastern US: Acadia. Dogwoods in April I visited this park a few years back, and I can see why some might not be enthralled by the intensely tourist-driven attractions that bump up against the natural areas—Dollywood, Ripley, and Titanic are just a few of the most heavily-visited. (I actually liked Dollywood; there was some nice landscaping and a pleasant, family feel, with very pretty cabins surrounding it. But it was a media tour and we were alone in the park, so there’s that.) Structures in the park As for the park itself, it’s beautiful, with streams running through it in most places, grand stands of trees, including gorgeous dogwoods, and lovely wildflowers. I photographed several varieties I’d never seen. The park is also..
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Red-Free Holiday Decorations! by Susan Harris

Washington Monument Same-old holiday decorations, dominated by your basic Crayola red, give me the bah-humbugs faster than “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” on repeat play. So the holiday display that opened yesterday at the U.S. Botanic Garden is a relief and a respite for this perennial Scrooge because red seems to have been banished! The amazing plant-based replicas of DC icons are back, but this year they’re adorned with plants in white, pink, pale blue and mint green. U.S. Capitol Here’s a closer look at the signature plant repeated throughout the displays – the miniature Poinsettia variety ‘Princettia.’ I’m told they were all grown in the Botanic Garden’s own greenhouse, so I don’t know if they’re available commercially or not. (Anyone know?) Gotta have ’em! Lincoln Memorial A fun train display, also totally plant-based, is the other hot ticket at the USBG this time of year, and hallelujah, it’s red-free, too! That’s thanks to its dedication to our national parks, in celebr..
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Fresh from the farm? Not always a guarantee. by Elizabeth Licata

Matt Billings via Wikipedia Commons I love Thanksgiving. I love cooking the meal so much, that, though we’re always invited to friends, I buy a turkey and all the fixings anyway and cook it the next day. The ritual of mixing stuffing, wrangling the slippery bird, adding too much butter to the mashed potatoes, and figuring out the other sides is way too much fun to miss. Last year, I was very excited about purchasing a turkey from a local farm that ran a regular stand at our most popular outdoor market. The bird was a cross between a Bourbon Red and the common Broad-Breasted White, and you could immediately see the difference—as many of you have probably observed, heritage hybrids have more sharply projecting breastbones and just seem a bit bonier overall. After cooking, you find that the breast meat is more flavorful (it doesn’t taste like cotton, anyway) and that there’s a higher percentage of dark meat. My turkey cost as much as many entire TDay shopping bills, but people were lini..
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My Tiny Oak Forest by Allen Bush

Bur oak, Quercus macrocarpa. The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn. –Ralph Waldo Emerson I’m not giving into global warming or to Donald Trump. I’m planting acorns. I won’t live to see my oaks grow into a thick forest canopy, but time’s a wasting. Regardless of the president-elect’s head-in-the-sand claim that he doesn’t believe in the overwhelming scientific evidence of global warming, there is little doubt that the earth is heating up. The president-elect has described the science as “bullshit” and a “hoax.” I’d be happy to show the president-elect how to sow acorns, even though he’s busy with plans to shut down the Environmental Protection Agency and ease restrictions on coal powered plants. Even Kentucky’s Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, who has criticized President Obama for his attempt to curb fossil fuel emissions, doesn’t think Kentucky’s coal production is going to pick up anytime soon. Simple economics: natural gas is cheaper. Shingle oak, Quercus ..
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Is it a Kissing Bug or a Leaf-footed Bug?

The Bug Chicks - A site for parents, teachers and bugdorks. Lately, we have received a few questions on our Facebook page asking about kissing bugs. Some people have sent pictures of insects that they suspect may be the insects that transmit Chagas Disease, a parasitic infection caused by the protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi that can range from mild symptoms to congestive heart filature later in life if left untreated. There must have been some kind of news report about them, because all of a sudden, we are being contacted by people who seem concerned. IDENTIFICATION HELP Here’s a pic from a fan named Jeremy, who found this true bug in Roanoke, VA. I asked if we could share this photo and walk people through how to identify if you’ve got a kissing bug or not. What Jeremy found is a leaf-footed bug. They DO NOT transmit Chagas disease. They eat plant juices and not animal blood. Below is a closer picture of a leaf-footed bug. One of the clearest characteristics that you can distinguish ..
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Cellar Holes by Thomas Christopher

I took a break from leaf clean-up the other day (one of the penalties I pay for my garden’s wonderful woodland site) and took a walk to enjoy the late fall woods. This presents a very different aspect at this season, for with the leaves all down, the interior of the forest is revealed. In particular, when I walk down an abandoned woods road, I can see the remains of no less than five old houses. There’s nothing left of these residences besides the cellar holes. These must have been dug by pick and shovel – a near impossible task in our boulder-rich soil. The floors of these former basements are earthen, and the sides are clad with beautifully laid, un-mortared walls. Many of the stones in these are considerable. I wrote in my last post about my own adventures with lifting stones; these are far larger than any I have attempted to budge. It must have taken a team of oxen to drag them to the site and a block and tackle to lower them into position. With nothing to hold them together othe..
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