It has been a busy busy week – and not only in my garden. Let me begin with last Tuesday.
Pastor Cara Hochhalter of the Charlemont Federated Church with several helpers, husband Jeff, and Deacon Erwin Reynolds behind her, turned a piece of church lawn into a winter squash patch. You’ll notice that we are using the lasagna garden method. The squash will be harvested in the fall for the church’s food distribution program. The Federated Church is just one of the organizational and individual gardens growing for for the Plant a Row for the Hungry Program.
Friday was Grounds Day at our Heath Elementary School. The kindergarteners had already dug a trench around their sandpile where they were going to plant sunflower seeds and morning glory vines. But they still had strength and energy. And a good thing too.
It takes a lot of real soil to make a sunflower seed grow. These Wonder Girls were fully capable of moving their share.
Dave Gott, owner of the Benson Place Blueberry Farm and orchardist, worked with older students to weed, prune and check the school’s fruit trees. Nature and the local envirnoment play a big part in the school’s curriculum at every level. On Grounds Day it is clear that they understand how much care is needed to keep a landscape healthy and productive. And very beautiful.
Saturday was a day with the Ladies. A friend from California was in town and we visited Esther’s garden before setting off to Williamstown and the Clark Insitute to look at the Dove/O’Keefe exhibit – which was fabulous. Esther has a gas plant. She said the foliage had kind of a gassy scent, and I said I had read that on humid summer nights the plant produces a gas that can actually be ignited. I don’t know that Esther was ready to give that a try.
Esther loves blue and there is lots of blue in her spring garden, baptisia, salvia, perovskia, Johnson’s Blue geranium, and I’m sure others. I liked this photo I took of blue Siberian iris and red poppies. I love red.
There is also a vegetable garden, maintained by her son and his family who live next door. They all like upside down tomatoes, and I was reminded of the iconic upside down trees at Mass MoCA. I have the same reacation to both. Poor plants. Trying so hard to reach toward the sun. Esther said the harvesting is very easy and once the tomatoes form I suppose they will pull the stems down a little so they don’t look quite so tortured.
A Heath neighbor invited me over to take a last look at his primroses. This rosy mass planting is right near the edge of the road, there for all who pass to enjoy.
Then I was off to Woodslawn Farm in Colrain to get a preview of the yellow rose the Purington family gave me on my last visit. This is a rose that has been on the farm for generations, as has the pink rose they gave me. I am honored to have a lovely bit of the Purington family history on my own hill. And it is a reminder to me of how many plants travelled from hill to hill and farm to farm in the old days as neighbors shared the prettiest or most admired things in their gardens. I didn’t leave empty handed this time either. Dave dug up a pink rambler root, and Mrs. Purington Sr. had alread dug a shoot of the rose outside her kitchen window. I also got to visit with Carol Purington, our famous haiku poet. We didn’t discuss haiku much. It turns out we are both mystery readers. Among other things.
On Monday, yesterday, I did spend a little time at home and was glad to welcome the first peony of the season. Name lost, of course.
I have beautiful blue, and white, Siberian irises, like every one else around, but this McEwen iris is very special. I think it might be something like Black Prince.
Yesterday afternoon I also visited Pam Oakes whose garden is on the 21st Annual Franklin Land Trust Farm and Garden tour. She has sun and shade. Trees, shrubs, perennials, vegetables and berries. There is something for everyone and every appetite in her beautiful gardens. One of her showstoppers is this American ironwood tree, rarely seen in a residential garden, “mostly because it is such a slow grower,” Pam said, but the unique trunk and grace of the canopy make this a real treasure. Tickets are still available for the June 27 & 28 Tour which includes other wonderful gardens and some surprising farm.