Monthly Archives: February 2010

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I’d like to introduce the words farmden and farmdener into the English language. I wonder if there are any other farmdeners out there. And just what is a farmden? It’s more than a garden, less than a farm. That’s my definition, but it also could be described as a site with more plants and/or land than one person can care for sanely. A gardener and garden gone wild, out of control.

You might sense that I speak from personal experience. I am. My garden started innocently enough: A 30 by 40 foot patch of vegetables, a few apple trees, some flowers, and lawn. That was 25 years ago, and in the intervening period, the lawn has grown …

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You’d think that after living in the same place for over 25 years and every year planting new trees and shrubs that there would be nothing new for me to plant this year. Or, at least, no where to plant them. Well, t’ain’t so!

I’m now finalizing this year’s orders. Let’s see: Did I succumb to any of the enticements for new and wondrous plants mentioned in the slew of gardening magazines and nursery catalogues that appear almost daily in my mailbox?

David Austin roses, whose blooms have the look of yesteryear (pastel colors and blowsy form) and the pest-resistance of presentyear, are always a draw. (Photo at left is David Austin’s ‘Graham Stuart Thomas’ in bloom in summer.) And m–m-m-m, the thought of picking fresh, ripe sweet cherries is also enticing. I’m going to order Compact Stella cherry tree. It’s a dwarf so I should …

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A reader, in telling me how much he enjoyed reading this “gardener’s notebook,” went on to say that he especially liked – perhaps he said “found interesting” – my failures. Well, here you are Alan: Looks like I’ve done in another rosemary plant. I went to water it and was presented with leaves that were a bit more needle-like than normal rosemary leaves, and drier. I soon realized I’d killed another rosemary plant.

Except for periodically dying, rosemaries generally have been ideal herbal houseplants for me. Each leaf packs a lot of flavor, so it’s a plant you can actually use freely in cooking without decimating it. It’s also decorative as well as culinary, whether grown as a sprawling bush or — my choice – as a miniature tree. And it tolerates the dry, low-light conditions of heated homes in winter.

This last point, …

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Mandevilla Crimson, the vine about which I wrote and raved a couple of months ago, has become a horticultural Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde. Can this plant really be the same one that was compact and drenched, nonstop, in crimson, flowering funnels such a short while ago?

Winter light – that is, the lack of light — has made all the difference. Neither a flower nor the inklings of a flower bud are to be seen anywhere on the plant. And from the once compact mass of foliage has sprung 3 and 4 foot long shoots that are reaching out and grabbing onto a nearby rosemary plant, a lamp, anything around which they can twine. Even the leaves have undergone a transformation, although not nearly as dramatic. They’re merely smaller.

Strengthening sun should, hopefully, bring my mandevilla back to its Dr. Jeckyll persona. But what to …

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