Monthly Archives: October 2011

PAWPAW TALK & GLICKSTER VISIT

Deep in the hills of West Virginia, at the end of a steep, gravelly driveway, is where I found Glicksterus maximus. Sounds like a plant, doesn’t it? It’s not. It’s the self-ascribed nickname for Barry Glick of Sunshine Farm and Gardens (www.sunfarm.com), a mail-order nursery offering oodles of species and varieties of mostly herbaceous plants, many of them obscure and many of them native. I’d spoken with Barry, I’d planted his plants, and I’d sat on the receiving end of one of his entertaining and informative lectures, but I’d never visited his nursery/home. My own speaking engagement last week at the International Master Gardener’s Conference in Charleston, WV afforded me the opportunity for this visit.
Let’s cut right to the chase: Barry’s deepest affections go to one genus, Helleborus. And hellebores, as they are commonly called, …

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GOODBYE TOMATOES, HELLO NASHI

One more sandwich of sliced tomatoes laid on home-made bread and topped with cheddar cheese, warmed until melted, and I’ll close the garden gate on fresh tomatoes for the year. Tomato season used to end more dramatically: The four years that I gardened in Wisconsin, a heavy frost would descend on the garden some night about the third week in September. Morning would present a scene of blackened, dead tomato, cucumber, and pepper plants. The same thing used to happen here, only a little later in autumn.
For many years now, killing frosts have arrived late, so much so that cool weather and short days sap the vitality from summer vegetables before frost arrives. The plants peter out so I have no qualms about clearing them out of the garden before they are dead. As a matter …

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SQUIRREL BATTLES BUT FIGS ARE FINE

It’s a tied score, 1 for the squirrels, 1 for me. At least since I started counting, which was last year. I had some squirrel issues in previous years, but last year is when all out war started. They cleaned out the raspberries and the gooseberries early in the season, and then started eyeing the blueberries. Anyone who reads “A Gardener’s Notebook” knows how I feel about blueberries, and the squirrels evidently picked up those vibes (with some ballistic coaxing) and left the blueberries alone. Not that they kept to their nearby forest homes; they scurried across the field in late summer to strip the hazelnut bushes of every single nut.
This year is different, very different. The squirrels didn’t eat even one raspberry or gooseberry, didn’t even eye the blueberries. And my harvest of hazelnuts is secure in bushel baskets.
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TREES OF JOY & LAWN NOUVEAU

I didn’t need the house number to hone in on Bassem’s home in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania last Saturday. The Asian persimmon, pawpaw, and fig trees rising above the front hedge distinguished the landscape from those of the neighbors’ more conventional — and much less luscious — home grounds. Over the years, I have corresponded with Bassem, a fellow member of North American Fruit Explorers (www.nafex.org), and had planned to sometime stop by on one of my frequent trips to Philadelphia. Finally, I took that fruitful side step.
And what a fruitfully timely fruit step I hoped it to be: Fig season! Figs are a main interest of Bassem (http://www.treesofjoy.com/), who grew up in Lebanon. His quarter acre house lot, crammed with all sizes and varieties of fig trees, makes the collection of 35 varieties that I once grew in Maryland look like child’s play.

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