Irregular Growth Gardening Journal

Friday, April 16, 2004

Stonewalling has been given a bad name by that narcissistic Confederate General. Stone walls are not stiff. They flow. Their components are solid, but a stone wall is just a stable fluid, ready to tumble, given the right touch.

Stone is age, and working with stone makes me feel that I have more underneath me than I do.

Even as we place stones in our gardens, we would do well to remember that this cold rock is but the frozen form of a surging heat that lies deep below our feet.
posted by Albert G. 10:31 AM

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Two groups of hyacinths forced to bloom inside in the winter:

One in a long low terra cotta pot, with earth in it.

Another group in a set of nice blue glass forcing vases, filled with water.

The second, starved for nutrients, blooms faster, but shorter, and the leaves curl over with yellow edges.

The first, well rooted, sends up second flower stalks that are so tall they at threat of falling over.

All hybrids, too large for their own good.

A third group sits outside, unforced, under the snow, waiting for Spring. Should I have waited inside as well? Guilt. Manipulation of life. A slippery slope to human cloning. Moral mud slides. Oh wretched, wretched.
posted by Albert G. 9:29 AM

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Outside, an early bud opening has been stopped by an arctic rush of air that is so cold that the beer in the bottles outside has separated into liquid alcohol and a core of frozen, beer-flavored water.

50-foot snow devils bring snow from the potato fields down the hill to the yard, where trees and bushes slow down the wind and the flakes can drop.

As an omen of the winter, one of the hyacinth forcing vases was pulled down off the shelf by my son. It hit him on the head, and broke into little blue shards on the floor. My son was uncut, but the long-rooted bulb needs repotting. It is exposed, tips drying out.
posted by Albert G. 7:20 AM

Sunday, January 04, 2004

Dahlia alert.

I have been offered dahlias.

The winter's been pretty easy so far - the shasta daisies still have mounds of green leaves photosynthesizing and the parsley is still parsleying. So, a neighbor offered to give me some dahlia tubers if I would dig hers up. They were still alive, and quite abundant, and now she's given me half.

What am I to do? I don't like dahlias that much. They seem over-bred to me, in need of too much care, too much like plastic toy flowers. Perhaps they will go best in my son's gardening patch, where he will plant big seeds next spring. Dahlia tubers are certainly big enough, and he will appreciate them.

Yet, even with the tubers in my son's patch, I will have to live with the shame of growing dahlias.

Oh, life is hard.
posted by Albert G. 4:01 PM

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Inside, the forced hyacinths are busting through their potting soil, getting ready to flower some time around Ground Hog's Day.

Outside, a freak thaw is ending, with rain turned to snow shooting along with a fiercely twisting wind across the red barn on the lee side of the hill. It's too wet, to warm, too cold even to work the stones outside into a wall to block the snow that is returning again. Grassroots keep growing back into the garden, but I won't touch them now. I'm sticking to the houseplants, to the tropical little trees and groundcovers that cringe along with me at the lake effect that's coming our way.
posted by Albert G. 12:34 PM

Friday, December 12, 2003

Back home in Upstate New York, the ground, the air, the sky, the garden, the trees over the garden, the barn behind the trees, the road, the car, the driveway, the stone path, everything outside the window is white.

I am not home in Upstate New York, I am in San Francisco, where the hills still have green, and the skies are the same color of grey as the buildings that stand around me.

There are plants that grow here that just won't survive our lake effect snows back home, but I've learned in the last two years that I can't garden year round. I need the freeze of winter as much as the spring bulbs I planted last month. The snow is a cue for me to stop digging and pulling, to go inside and sit.

I'd rather have the white of winter than the grey of a garden twilight that returns directly to day.
posted by Albert G. 8:33 AM

Monday, December 08, 2003

Goldenrod seems taller in the winter, after its leaves have shriveled and fallen, and its seeds are frozen dry, but a stand of burdock that covered the earth beneath it darkly in summer seems like the skeleton of a threat in December.
posted by Albert G. 3:19 PM

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Albert G. Smith, the editor-in-chief of Irregular Times, offers a gardening journal that goes beyond mere bulbs and bug bites to reflect on the underlying plot of the garden in our lives.