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Color, Water, Mirrors, Shade – and a Dining Table for Pleasure

Blooming garden

Mid- May and the garden is beginning to bloom

On the 15th of May the garden is blooming with creeping blue phlox, Troillus, grape hyacinths, tiarella, barren strawberry and a single rhododendron blossom.

We love flowers but other elements can make a welcoming garden. There are useful items that can also be decorative and colorful.

Purple in the garden

Purple! A comfortable bench for catching one’s breath and a tiny fountain.

Water has long been known to be an important element in the garden. We only have a blue birdbath, but the birds make good use of it.

Water in the garden

This is a grand fountain, but there are other ways to have water in the garden.

This fountain has three splashing parts. Very simple

In my travels I have been fascinated to find mirrors in the garden.

In the shadowy depths of this garden an amphora is doubled.

Mirror giving a different view

A lovely garden begs for a place where one can sit and visit, or share a meal.

This Texas garden planted four trees, and brought out the table and chairs. Very simple.

Our new cafe umbrella invites us when we are alone, and when we want to  – and are able to in this pandemic year – to have a guest for a glass of wine.

What extra touches do you have in your garden?

Forty Years in the Garden – Between the Rows

The photo is not good, but this is the house we were racing to after Thanksgiving 1979. We were fixing it up

The day after Thanksgiving in 1979 Henry and I packed a big U-Haul truck with all our New York belongings, and the three daughters, Diane, Betsy and Kate. The day was balmy and warm, the perfect day for moving. We stopped in Greenfield for supper and groceries, then onward to Heath.

It was no longer balmy. Temperatures had plummeted. It was dark and we had to unload the truck or we would have no place to sleep. The girls put their backs into the job. The truck needed to be emptied in order to go on the road the next morning.

We made two trips with the truck to my mother’s house in Mason, New Hampshire, while the girls continued organizing in Heath. We had stored some of our stuff there when we moved to NYC, and she said it was our turn to store her stuff while she moved to New Jersey.

As we finished unloading that third truck Henry said that was it! We were at the end of the road and were never moving again. Indeed, our old farmhouse was literally at the end of the road, hence our title, End of the Road Farm.

Our country life began. We had plans to grow our own food, raise chickens for eggs – and meat, and be part of the back-to-the-land movement of the ‘70s.  Of course, we needed regular jobs, too, but we were ready to grow vegetables and flowers.

We had only been living in Heath for five months when I drove into Greenfield, took a deep breath, and walked into the Recorder offices. I met with Bob Dolan and proposed writing a garden column. I got lucky because the Recorder was just then preparing to publish a weekly leisure magazine insert to cover topics including books, music, food, television – and gardening. In my interview with Mr. Dolan I confessed that I didn’t know a lot about gardening, but I knew who to interview for expert information.

I was lucky. The first issue of the magazine was on May 22, 1980. My first column Compost Piles Vital for Good Gardening appeared on page 15.

The column needed a title. I thought back to our year in Maine and our next door neighbor, Mr. Leslie.  He had a vegetable garden and was knowledgeable in many ways. He’d laugh at me and my running around scattering seed. He told me I needed to slow down and swap lies between the rows. That is what my column intended to do – at least talking to experts and beginners Between the Rows.

John Zon

John Zon

That was the beginning. Besides my own limited gardening experience I turned to Tom Luck about planting potatoes in sawdust, John Zon, our next door neighbor about managing and caring for a garden, especially raspberries. I was off and running.

The joy of writing a garden column was, and is the pleasure of meeting other gardeners, all of whom have more skill and knowledge than I did. Unlike cooks who guard their recipes, gardeners are delightfully willing to share their knowledge, show off their gardens and tell stories.

Elsa Bakalar and me in 1980 – ohoto by Mike Bakalar for column

Elsa Bakalar, known for her beautiful flower gardens, lived on the other side of Heath. She was a great teacher and a great story teller. Over the years she taught me about perennials from garden phlox, achillea, delphiniums, Russian sage, cone flowers, boltonia and all manner of other flowers. She and I shopped for wonderful plants at Blue Meadow Farm in Montague. She planted hers, and I wrote about them.

Elsa Bakalar

Cover girl – Elsa Bakalar

Larry Lightner who had taught for years at Northfield-Mt.Hermon taught me about collecting fall leaves to make cold compost. I have used his technique in many ways. The idea is to make a wire bin, of the desired height and width and collect leaves and continue over time, because the leaves break down, slowly creating compost without the heat of kitchen leftovers. I have two tall cold compost bins full of leaves right now. This is such a great technique that I write about it from time to time.

People often ask me how I can write a column every week. The truth is a columnist is always looking for material, and material is found because everyone likes talking about their gardens. Some columns can be written about specific kinds of gardens like flower gardens, rain gardens, shade gardens, herb gardens and more.  I look through my lists and I see repeating topics like New Year Resolutions, Plant of the Year, small trees, color in the garden, fall planting, succulents, new perennials, poinsettias. After I created my Rose Walk I always had new roses to write about.

Special events often make it to my column. There are garden tours, and plant sales. This year the Greenfield Garden Club will still hold its annual Extravaganza plant sale at the John Zon Community Center at the corner of Davis and Pleasant Streets on Saturday, May 23, 2020, from 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 a.m. Of course there will be special requirements. All must wear masks and abide by social distancing. This is a great opportunity to get some great plants at good prices for your gardens while you support Garden Club school gardens.

Next week my anniversary celebration continues.###

Between  the Rows  May 16, 2020

New York Times and My Pandemic Garden

New York Times At Home section

New York Tines At Home section

The pandemic has demanded many changes in our life. If we can’t go to work or to school we have to stay at home. The New York Times has read the zeitgeist and created a new section for their Sunday edition titled At Home. The large front page image has a child playing on the floor with his toys, while mom sits at a table thoughtfully putting together a jigsaw puzzle while another member of the household is lounging with a book.

The NYTimes mentions a new phrase “quarantine fatigue,’ caused by the pandemic. Their new section is to help us handle quarantine fatigue. There are instructions for games like the Paperback Game for the family, suggestions about great movies now available on TV, ways to spruce up your home office, and if you didn’t have a home office before, you probably do now. There is a list of short books so you can lounge and read all day and come to the dénouement before supper when someone in the family has provided a simple supper via suggested simple recipes.

I am thinking one of the most popular suggestions will be How to Stock Your Own Bar. Three recipes complete the column and I am wondering whether curbside delivery at our local liquor stores will include even more recipes.

This At Home section with graphics showed people relaxing. How do people pull that off?

Pandemic exercise

Pandemic exercise in front of the TV – Balance and Stretch  with Ann

Here’s what’s going on at our house. Zoom meetings. Community projects need new ways of continuing. Emails from dear friends near and far are checking in. We love those and return our love and news. On-line exercise class continues from the Y. Thank you, Ann! You’ll notice I’ve not even mentioned the routine tasks, housecleaning, cooking three meals a day, and the laundry.

New roses

New roses, old roses, never mind the weeds.

But at this time of the year we are spending a lot of our time out in the garden. Somehow there are always new plants to buy. This year we ordered new shrub roses from Antique Rose Emporium, online, to create a short Rose Walk that will remind us of the Heath Rose Walk. I can’t wait to see Imogen, creamy yellow, and the Lady of Shallot, striking apricot-yellow, in bloom. Besides planting new roses, I’ve been pruning and weeding everywhere.

I spent a lot of time going around looking at the swelling clumps of greenery and wondering what they are. Fortunately some readers have been knowledgeable and helpful. This year I will make a really good list of plant names and locations.

The pandemic vegetable garden begins with digging

The big excitement is a vegetable garden. We did grow a few vegetables in Heath along with our blueberry and raspberry patches, but we have never considered our Greenfield garden, otherwise known as The Swamp, as suitable for growing vegetables. The pandemic pushed our imaginations and we now have a fenced in plot, 10 by 8 feet. It is small, but I also have fabric Smart Pots and large garden pots.

This spring we again ordered four yards of compo-soil from Martin’s Farm. We have needed these many, many yards of good soil to create raised beds for our plantings. I talk about water-loving plants, but we suspected there is a limit to how much and how long they can live in water. Every year we raise the beds a little higher which also makes the plantings more attractive.

We used some of the compo-soil for the vegetable garden. We also added our own finished compost swarming with worms. The narrow path is covered with wood chips that we no longer needed.

We were lucky to have various sizes of chicken wire in our shed. Some was used for climbing peas and some was used as a low fence, with our hopes of keep the squirrels and occasional rabbits out of the garden.

pandemic garden is completed

Hallelujah! The garden is completed.

Limited by space, I had to choose my vegetables closely. I planted mesclun, a mixture of young lettuces, rainbow chard, Ronde zucchini, peas, French breakfast radishes, and two types of small beets in red and gold. I’ll plant pole beans soon. I will also buy tomato starts that can grow in the Smart Pots, and lettuce in the planter pots. I am already dreaming of picking my own lunch salads, and my own chard for summer tian lunches.

I am so glad we can buy plant starts at the Farmer’s Market. We walked the walk on Saturday and washed our hands properly before visiting the different farmers. I bought one cherry tomato plant, and two flats of flat and curly parsley. We cannot live without parsley and have a small herb garden right by the side door. My tiny patches of permanent herbs are thyme, chives, lemon balm, sage, mint and oregano. I still need to get some basil.

I hope the NYTimes steps out into the garden and suggests ways we can find interesting ways there to amuse and educate ourselves during these pandemic days.

At the same time I do thank the NYTimes for their At Home section and the new Puzzle section. The 48 puzzles and brainteasers will help us keep our brains operational in these days of pandemic. I confess that housework has never had that much appeal, and if it slips a little more than usual, my husband and I will never notice. We’ll be out in the garden.

Between the Rows  May 8, 2020

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day – May 15, 2020

Fringed bleeding hearts

Fringed Bleeding Hearts

On this beautiful sunny, but cool Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day in Massachusetts, I’ll take you along on my morning walk. The fringed bleeding heart has been blooming for a month against our house foundation.

Doronicom

Doronicum, forget-me-nots and an epimedium near the front corner of the house.

daffodils

Nameless Daffodils are scattered among the low growing conifers in front of the house

Hellebore

Hellebore, in front of our new fence

Off to the back garden past dandelions, violets and gill over the ground

grape hyacinths

The grape hyacinths are going wild. Two friends have helped themselves.

Bistort

Bistort is an energetic plant with pink wands waving

Fothergilla

Fothergilla is just beyond the grape hyacinths and bistort

Phlox stolonifera

Phlox stolonifera, a lovely creeping phlox, a great ground cover.

Bleeding heart 'Goldheart'

‘Goldheart’ Bleeding Heart is just on the other side of the Southern Planting bed

Jacob's ladder

Jacob’s ladder is the only plant in bloom on the middle planting bed

Poppy

A new poppy blooming near the quince on the third planting bed

Quince

This quince planted last year is fully 6″ tall. I think it will grow.

Troillus

Troillus at the back of the third planting bed.

Geum

Geum grows opposite the troillus. I love geum, and more is on its way.

Primoses

Primroses are fading at the back of the planting bed

Fairy bells

Fairy Bells are right near the the troillus. I don’t know a proper name. I bought them at the Bridge of Flowers plant sale, years ago

Summer snowflake

Leucojum aestivum or Summer Snowflake – but I don’t feel any summer yet.

Solomon's seal

Solomon’s Seal tucked in its own corner. Spreading slowlyl

At the very back of the garden, on the Hugel, wood poppies, and barren strawberries are still blooming

I thank Carol over at May Dreams Gardens, for giving us Bloom Day, giving us all a chance to see what is blooming all over our great land.

Fun and Beauty in the Garden for Children and Adults

The Gardening Book of Projects for Kids

In these treacherous days of the coronovirus when many of us been laid off, children have been sent home from school, and no one can even remember what day of the week it is because we no longer have schedules, we should stop and take a deep breath. What can we do when so many must-dos no longer exist?

First, we have to remember it is spring! The world is changing all around us. Birds are returning and singing. Children are running around the yard, but are forbidden from going to play with their friends. Opportunities are created.

Certainly Whitney Cohen and John Fisher of Life Lab have some ideas. Life Lab is an organization that cultivates children’s love of learning, healthy food, and nature through garden-based education. I think their new book, The Book of Gardening Projects for Kids: 101 ways to get kids outside, dirty, and having fun (Timber Press $29.95), will suggest fun for everyone in the family. They know the importance of a sense of humor and whimsy.

Cohen and Fisher are realists about the amount of time children will stay engaged in a project. At the same time, it is true that children will often become engaged for lengthy periods of time. The first part of the book reminds parents about children’s skills, time tolerance, imaginations and ingenuity with suggestions about working with these.

The rest of the book is given over to fun and learning. The children will understand the fun, and parents will be happy to notice all the learning. There are the basics of growing a garden from design to compost and digging.

Seed starting begins with creative containers, empty yogurt cups, newspaper cups, milk cartons and more. There are all manner of experiments to teach about soil. How to measure? With your hand! Measure your hand and finger span and you’ll never need a ruler when working in the garden. Learn to identify bugs. Brew up an insect repellent. Design theme gardens: pizza gardens, three sisters gardens, a sunflower house and more.

Pay attention in the garden and you can learn about the stages of butterfly life, harvest peppermint, lemon balm, chamomile and calendula for flavor and make tea for good health. There are lists of plants that attract birds, and ways to feed and provide water for the birds. There are directions for building houses for barn owls, bats and chickens. Talk about hands on learning!

Besides chapters on all the things you can make and play with there is a chapter on cooking. There are recipes and information for children of every age. Another chapter on harvest season has recipes for freezing, dehydrating and canning the vegetables and fruits from the garden.

I know some parents are now particularly aware of how much learning can take place outside the classroom. This Book of Gardening Projects will keep everyone happily busy – and learning.

Fearless Color Gardens by Keeyla Meadows

Fearless Color Gardens by Keeyla MeadowsKeeyla Meadows who is an artist and a teacher wants to encourage gardeners to jump off the color wheel and create Fearless Color Gardens (Timber Press $27.95).  She wants you to free your mind and create a color rich garden. She shows us many ways to look for, and work with bright congenial colors.

As a timid arranger of my garden space I welcomed this book full of ideas about how to organize color combinations. Any artist begins with a color wheel. Meadows works with a color triangle made of blossoms from blue at the apex down through purple, on to red and pink, then orange to yellow and up to shades of chartreuse to deep green.

But choosing colors for the garden does not begin with the plants. It begins with allowing yourself to listen to your garden muse, and to practice placing different colors alongside your favorite color to feel how they change each other. Do these other colors add warmth, or a coolness. Which do you prefer?

Fearless Color Gardens is divided into three main activities beginning with putting together color palettes, learning about color and harmony, and about shades and hue. Part two suggests ways to frame your space, outline spaces and their colors, and organize the space. In addition to plants, the hardscaping design and color of your garden has to be considered. The final section of the book is a tour of gardens that Meadows has created.

When you look at your garden, and walk the paths, do you think of it as a sanctuary? Or as a paradise? Meadows’ gardens include lots of painted color, on the paving, or rocks, or sculptures, as well as on furniture.

Reading this book certainly opens my eyes to new ways of arranging plant combinations. My garden is small, but colors are unlimited. There is fun to be had.

I am spending more time in my garden in this pandemic year. I am working more slowly because there is no reason to rush. I have more time to pay attention to the bare spots, more time to think about harmony. Since we will be spending more time in the garden, I am insisting that we get an umbrella for our garden table. I can see myself among my colorful flowers and large shrubs, lounging, reading, enjoying tea time. I will ignore the weeds. I’ll tend to them later. ###

Between the Rows   May 2, 2020

I’d like to add a PS to this column. I just read a wonderful poem that is beautifully encouraging on these pandemic days. It begins

“No one’s told the daffodils about the pause to Spring

And no one’s told the birds to roost and asked them not to sing” and the poem continues –

https://www.writeoutloud.net/public/blogentry.php?blogentryid=100718 

 

Flowery Mystery Finally Solved.

mystery plants

Mystery plants

A few days ago I asked readers if they recognized some plants that I  could not identify. They came through, but no one could identify these two plants. That was understandable because they are so crowded together. I dug and pulled the more velvety plant away from the lacy plant. I planted it and waiting to see what would happen. I still do not know what the lacy plant is.

Mystery plant in bloom

The mystery plant, about 7 or 8 inches tall bloomed! But I still did not recognize it or know what it is.

Mystery answered!

Then I was working In the front garden where there were many blue forget-me-nots. One had white forget-me-not flowers as well. I had never seen white forget-me-nots.  This mystery is now solved, but it is hard to avoid all mysteries in the garden.

What is this plant?

What is this? The leaves are about 3 inches long and they are very handsome. They are spread over a large area in the back of the South Border. What will they become? Will I have to wit until they bloom? Mysteries never end. Any ideas?

Here is a large patch, but it continues to spread beyond this area

New Adventures In The Garden – Despite Pandemic

Bleeding Heart

‘Goldheart’ with red bleeding hearts has just begun to bloom.

New adventures are beginning. Last Thursday four new roses were delivered from the Antique Rose Emporium (ARE). And then it snowed. Well, only a little bit of snow, and the roses are resting in our side porch, gathering strength after the trip from Texas. Three hellebores and two primroses from the Greenfield Farmers Coop joined them, all waiting to get their feet into the soil.

New Roses for  the New Rose Walk

Quietness and Carefree Beauty are pink Buck roses and will be about five feet tall. I have always had several Buck roses on the Rose Walk because they are so hardy and need very little fussing. They have been planted in the new bed opposite roses on the other side of the walk.

The Lady of Shallot, a David Austin rose, wears shades of orange and apricot, on her stately form of up to six feet.

Gruss an Aachen is a polyantha in shades of pink and peach. I was not sure of the size. The ARE says three to four feet tall and wide but several other sites say it is small, only two feet tall and wide. After much consideration I decided to place this petite rose between the Alchymist and Fantin-Latour roses, who were transplanted against our new fence last fall. They are quite tall.

I will need one more rose to fill the U-shaped space that is now my very short Rose Walk. Roses do not like to get their feet wet, and this space is as far from the swamp as my garden can go.

It is important to include pollinators in a garden. I can claim a good number of plants attractive to bees, butterflies and birds in my garden. However, roses are of little interest to any of these creatures. The roses attract me!

The new Rose Walk will now begin at the fifteen by six foot fence we installed last year. The rose side of the fence will get lots of south and west sun; the other side of the fence will enjoy the eastern shade. The beautiful and fragrant Japanese tree lilac shades that spot, except in the early spring before it leafs out.

Native Plant Trust

Ferns died in another too-wet spot, and I turned to the Native Plant Trust, of which I am a member. Long named the New England Wildflower Society, it now has a new name, Native Plant Trust. It continues to support native plant conservation and education. Their website www.nativeplanttrust.org is a great place to learn about identifying and caring for native plants.

Looking at the list of available plants I zeroed in on those that love wetlands. Last year the ferns I had planted drowned and died.  This year I bought Hibiscus moscheuto. I did not know there were water-loving hibiscus but H. moscheuto, is also known as swamp mallow. It is described as a shrubby wildflower, and is beautiful. At five feet tall, with a three foot spread, it will make a substantial statement in the back part of our third planting bed. The pink and white flower is lovely and while each blossom will only bloom for a day, the plant will bloom for several weeks.

            I also purchased two Liatris spicata “Kobold’s Original.’ This variety of blazing star grows to about two to three feet tall with an 18 inch spread. The purple flowers are lovely and I think a generous clump is just what my wet garden needs. Liatris also attracts bees, butterflies and birds as does the hibiscus. Fortunately for me, it is possible to order plants for pickup from Nasami Farm, an arm of the Native Plant Trust.

Hellebores There and Here

Hellebores

My friend’s hellebores

A friend invited me to see her hellebores, also known as Lenten Roses because they bloom so early in the spring. They also thrive in shade.  My friend stayed inside her house while I walked around her garden inspired and gaining more inspiration by the minute. I had never had a hellebore. Now I must have hellebores. I immediately made my trip to the Farmers Coop and bought three. Only Hellebore hybridis Ivory Prince is blooming in subtle shades of green. The other two, First Dance and Maid of Honor, promise yellow and pink flowers, but none are in sight at the moment.

My friend also lent me a beautiful book about hellebores which did make me tremble a bit. There is a lot to learn about hellebores. What I would call petals are actually sepals. They surround petals that have been so transformed over the ages that they are reduced to nectaries, with stamens and pistils. The gardener needs good eyes, and good knowledge.

The hellebores are now planted on the shady side of our fence. There is a need for more shade plants. Maybe I will move some of my ever-expanding collection of epimediums, with their winsome and delicate spring flowers.

Hostas come in every shade of green with gold and silver highlights, and in every size are a shade garden stand-by. How will I choose?

Brunnera marophylla has large, heart shaped leaves and dainty little blue flowers in early spring.

Waldsteinia

Waldsteinia

Waldsteinia fragariodes, or barren strawberry is a great groundcover with strawberry-like flat foliage that is handsome into the fall. The cheerful yellow flowers bloom early in the spring.

It is cold today as I write, but spring is happening! ###

Between the Rows  April 25, 2020

Spring Enters With Excitement and Mysteries

Daffodils

Daffodils on the North Bed

This spring I am finding daffodils growing everywhere. My approach to ‘Garden Design’ is fairly catch as catch can. When autumn arrives I think I must add some spring bulbs! Last year I  bought several little bags at the Greenfield Farmers Coop of different varieties. I did not pay attention to bloom times, but this spring proves I got lucky. I went around the garden, which was still full of autumnal plants, if not blooms, and when I found an empty spot the considered it an ideal place for a few daffodils.  Lucky me – now I have daffodils blooming early and later in the seasons. Some are tiny, some are elegant, some have complicated pastel faces.

Grape hyacinths

Grape hyacinths

These grape hyacinths were planted two autumns ago. The first year after blooming I did not notice that the dormant plants sent up new shoots in the fall. They came up beautifully that first year. In the fall of 2019 I saw shoots coming up around the day lilies. At first I thought they were weeds, but then thought they must be a ‘real plant.’  They remained green all winter, and this second bloom years shows fabulous growth. And now I have just learned that this fabulous growth could be called invasiveness. I had no idea. I had already decided to dig up most  of them after bloom and plant them somewhere else. But with this new information, what shall I do? Thought needed.

Primroses


The primroses are in beautiful bloom

Waldsteinia

Barren strawberry, Walsteinia

This is a wonderful groundcover. Dense and very flat with strawberry-ish flowers.

Wood poppy, Stylophorum diphyllum

Wood poppy, Stylophorum diphyllum

Beware! The wood poppy is even more invasive that the grape hyacinths. It sends its seeds everywhere.

Landscape roses

Landscape roses

These landscape roses are leafing out beautifully as are the other larger roses  on  the newly named Rose Walk.

peonies

Transplanted peonies have settled in

Tree peony

We planted this tree peony in Heath. We left the other peonies for the new owners of our house, but this was such a sickly thing we took it to Greenfield. For the first time it looks like it is perking up. Even so, I am not expecting blooms this year.

‘Goldheart’, a bleeding heart with golden foliage and white flowers

Podophyllum

May apples, Podophyllum, surprised me last year when I looked under the foliage and first saw lovely flowers, and later the may apples. Not to be eaten!

Mystery No. 1 – Some kind of bulb plant? I should dig one up. Any ideas?

A very small mystery. I wish I knew its name.

Look very closely and you will see two different mystery plants growing together. Any ideas?

Worms

Worms from my compost bin

I decided it was time to actually use the compost in my black compost bin. I do have another bin now in service.  I pulled some of the dark, wet compost out of the bin, and as I went along I realized that the compost was full of worms. How do worms get into the bin? Could they possibly be just the plain worms in my soil, or are they different. I definitely have to read up on worms.

The tree bed

For a larger view of the arrival of spring, this is the Tree Bed which is named for the two river birches. Other plants in  this section are: daylilies, black eyed susans, grape hyacinths, and less visible is the pink Japanese anemone, garden phlox, filipendula, a patch of European ginger with its shiny green leaves, “Goldheart, and some mystery bulb plants.

That is a report of what is happening in the garden as we step into May.

PS FOR MAYDAY

We awoke this morning to find another flood after about 36 hours – 1-2/3 inches. More rain promised

This rain did a lot of good for the newly planted. I will be glad if there isn’t too much more rain todayl

 

Fifty Years of Earth Day Celebrations

Kenya water tank

In Kenya, 1989, we visited our Peace Corps daughter Betsy and celebrated the completion of the town water tank

Fifty years ago I was cheering and celebrating the First Earth Day with hundreds of other people in the center of West Hartford, Connecticut. My five children, ages 11 to 4, were with me. I don’t know what they took in and what they made of all the excitement, but it was exciting. And I can report that Betsy, age 6 was already beginning her career as an activist.

Betsy was in kindergarten at the time and she was distressed because she wanted to play in the school playground with its swings and monkey bars. She strongly objected to the rule that girls had to wear dresses because the boys were always flipping up their skirts, chanting and laughing, “I see London, I see France. I see Betsy’s underpants.” She took me to the school principal, made her case, and girls were soon allowed to wear pants. I cannot say that Betsy changed the rules in the high school, but girls there were agitating to wear jeans to school as well. They also got a rule change.

Shorts and jeans instead of skirts had nothing to do with Earth Day, but they do hint at all the changes that were happening. Scientists, and some others, were already seeing the dangers and damage being done to our environment. In 1962 Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring which was a best seller here and in 24 other countries. Silent Spring raised public awareness of the dangers to living creatures and public health as the environment became more polluted.

In fairness, the government was making its own observations. In 1955 President Eisenhower authorized the Air Pollution Control Act to research air pollution. President Johnson authorized the Clean Air Act in 1963, the first federal legislation regarding air pollution control. In 1967 Johnson enacted the Air Quality Act to expand government activities. In 1970 President Nixon extended the Clean Air Act and the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) went to work. Further amendments were made in 1990 by President George Bush.

The results of these acts were listed in a United Nations report. The EPA estimates that these amendments to the act prevented 230,00 early deaths caused by respiratory diseases like chronic bronchitis and asthma. “Between 1990 and 2018 carbon monoxide fell 74 per cent, ground level ozone declining by 21 per cent, and lead decreasing by 82 per cent from 2010. Along with improving visibility, reducing the risk of acid rain and helping protect the ozone layer, a range of other health, environmental and financial benefits can be traced to the Clean Air Act. The environmental benefits that stem from these reductions include decreased warming as well as healthier soil, freshwater bodies and vegetation.

The financial legacy of the Act has also stimulated the nation’s economy. The US$65 billion worth of costs associated with implementing the Act’s measures has been more than paid for through reduced medical bills and increased worker productivity. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates almost US$2 trillion in benefits.”

Of course, Clean Water Acts followed along with the Clean Air Acts. In 1974, President Gerald Ford signed into law the Safe Drinking Water Act, the first piece of legislation of its kind to provide a comprehensive regulatory framework for overseeing the nation’s drinking water supply. There have certainly been improvements, but we all know the stories about drinking water in Flint Michigan.

I am happy to say that daughter Betsy took up the yoke for clean water after she graduated from Clark University. She worked for a professor for a time, but soon signed up for the Peace Corps and left for Kenya. Her goal there was to bring drinking water to the village where she was assigned. She organized the villagers to repair one big tank, and build another one in the village. She also oversaw the digging to bring drinking water to the village to fill those tanks. This was a big improvement over having the women and girls carry water from more than a mile away.

When she returned to Massachusetts she earned her PhD at Clark and began working for the MWRA, MassachusettsWater Resource Authority.  Briefly, she now oversees the drinking water and wastewater quality programs to make sure MWRA is meeting regulatory requirements. They monitor water quality from water source to homeowner taps and maintain analyzers. She and her staff are also responsible for monitoring results for wastewater into Massachusetts Bay and Boston.

There are many ways and projects that people have worked on to improve our air and water and climate. Progress has been made and work continues. I recently learned that on Earth Day 2010 a goal was set for planting a billion trees. That goal was reached in 2012. The Plant For The Planet organization has watched many organizations and youth groups around the world plant 13.6 billion trees.

I don’t know whether Greening Greenfield is aware of Plant For the Planet, but that organization has planted many hundreds of trees in town over recent years. We might not think too much about the important benefits to our climate when we see trees planted along the tree strips or in our parks, but we do appreciate their beauty and their shade. Planting trees, planting pollinator plants tsupport the creatures, bees, flies,  butterflies and as well as birds which are threatened when the foods they need disappear.

When we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day this year, we can be proud of the changes we have wrought, but we know there are many more changes to be made.###

Between the Rows    April 18, 2020

Snowdrops and Grape Hyacinths for Encouragement

Grape Hyacinths

Snow drops  and Grape Hyacinths are doubling

The bed of grape hyacinths doubled, and now  they are growing right before my eyes. The growth was a great and lovely surprise.

Snow drops

Snow drops and grape hyacinths are both so happy to be increasing

These snow drops lived up to their name and shone through a snowfall.  Just a small snowfall, but still.

daffodils

Daffodils

Don’t ask me to discuss nomenclature of daffodils and jonquils. I am just enjoying groups of these sunny flowers that I rather carelessly planted here and there. Lucky for me they are coming into bloom at different times. The snowdrops and grape hyacinths give their all at once.

Pieris

Pieris japonica in front of the house

Pieris Japonica is a seven foot shrub in front of our house. It loves the shade and starts to bloom early in April.  It would be blooming even more if I had managed to prune of spent flowers in  late summer. It  is a tedious job, and my arms get so sore reaching up to clip the spent blossoms. I should mention it is wonderfully fragrant.  I promise to do better this year.

Snowdrops and grape hyacinths, daffodils and pieris – all are encouraging me to believe that soon I will be surrounded by flowers.  How is your garden doing?