Saturday, April 26, 2008

Midnight in the garden...

Photo by Howard Goldman

The good news: My tulips are in bloom.

The bad news: They're surrounded by an acre of bishop's weed.

When I walk past my garden, I actually have to turn my head away. It is that bad.

Sure, I have an excuse. I am a schlep of a gardener, I can say, because I am, ahem, writing the biography of one of the great piano virtuosi of the 20th century. But the truth is, even in the best of times, I am a bad gardener. There is a lot of traffic in front of my house and on summer days that means tons of boom cars. I have trouble gardening when it sounds as if the War of 1812 is being fought 10 feet away from me. Also, people in Buffalo like to look at you. They like to yell at you, too. I am always getting things shouted at me by strangers in cars. Sometimes I am in the mood for that but sometimes I'm not.

Well, hope springs eternal. Maybe instead of renewing my gym membership I will start to garden. To get myself in the mood here are 10 plants I have that I like.

1.) Zinnias. That is the splashy flower in the picture above that Howard took of my garden last summer. (A very flattering picture, I have to say.) Zinnias are the best. The seeds are super cheap, about a dime a package, and you get so much bang for your buck. Zinnias are named for a German scientist whose last name was Zinn. I would never have guessed that.

2.) Dandelions. I'm serious. I eat the greens. Don't you love how magazines try to tell you that the dandelion leaves they sell in stores are better than the ones in your yard, because they're cultivated? Isn't wild always supposed to be better?

3.) Sage. This herb lasts through winter. I went out when the snow was a foot deep and I started digging around for it and there it was.

4.) Mint. It takes over, and I want it to. You can make mint juleps and tabbouleh.

5.) Chocolate mint. I put this in two years ago and it smells fantastic. I wish it would take over.

I am realizing that aside from the roses all I have been doing is listing things I can eat. Hmmmm.. Well, let's continue.

6.) One year I grew Sweet Million tomatoes. They were wonderful. When you're getting into your car you can grab one and eat it like candy. Another year I grew about 20 tomato plants on a sunny, rocky pile of dirt behind Howard's garage. I had an excellent harvest. I wish I could summon up the physical and mental wherewithal to do that again. That is a word I love, "wherewithall." Here is a picture of our gardening under way behind Howard's garage.

7.) Cabbage. A couple years ago I had a cabbage patch. It's amazing to watch them grow. For weeks they look beautiful, like big green roses and then suddenly, at the last minute, they curl up into cabbages.

8.) Pansies. They come in the most amazing colors and they will usually come back without your doing anything, which is the way into my heart.

9.) Black-eyed Susan. When they show up in the late summer, all of a sudden I don't look like such a loser.

10.) Bishop's weed. If you can't beat it, join it!


Pauldub said...

I have seeds for Zinnia, Bachelor Buttons, Petunias (my favorite)and a host of others. The Grape Hyacinth is up,Butterfly Bush is showing signs of life, as well as the iris. BTW, My beloved is the gardener. I simply provide the unskilled labor.

Anonymous said...

P-dub...I am also a member of the Unskilled Garden Laborers Union...