LET’S BE HONEST: WE ALL WEB-SURF, RIGHT? What better diversion is there while waiting until (what hopefully was) the last significant snow melts? The map of where I’ve been lately has pushpins inserted at a hodgepodge of pitstops, but that’s the fun: the ricochet that landed me a design for a great compost bin, a handsome cabbage relative, and a new way to think about deer resistance (above)—among other treasures—all in one chaotic, captivating click-stream. My recent indulgences:
The Deer’s Delicate Palate: We all wonder (often in loud expletives when something has been chewed) what it is that deer won’t eat. I loved this online tool created at Rutgers University Extension (based on observations in northern New Jersey) that rates things from “Rarely Damaged” to “Frequently Severely Damaged” (above) in a five-point scale that seems more sensible to me that saying anything’s “deerproof.” We could all benefit from this kind of thinking, a sort of risk-assessment philosophy of planting in the presence of these beasts. (You know me; I don’t. I gave up and got a deer fence.)
Compost-Bin Envy: I have never met Ryan Boren, one of the lead developers (read: software engineer) for WordPress, the platform I so love and that this site is built on. Who knew that Boren is also adept with wood-working tools and built himself a composter-to-covet at the Texas home he shares with his growing family and some mighty cute goats. The “after” shot of his three-stage compost bin is here; the detail shots here.
An Old Friend, Overplanted: I happened on an old friend with a new(ish) website: Tom Fischer, formerly of Horticulture magazine and more recently chief editor at Timber Press, the Oregon-based gardening-and-related-topics publisher, is also at overplanted dot com. I am still rooting around in his very expert pages of plant profiles and other essays, but if you like gardening quotes, a quick tip: here are some really good ones.
Speaking of Garden Quotes…Reader Amy sent a doozie, from an author I was not familiar with: the English fiction writer Penelope Lively. This great 2009 interview from The Guardian newspaper helped me get to know her, as did Lively’s confession that her fantasy career—her own “what might have been”—would have made her a gardener. The Lively quote that started this journey:
‘As an activity, gardening is a combination of immediacy and imaginative production. Perhaps that is why it is so satisfying – a fusion of physical endeavor with a dream of things to come. A garden is perilously unstable. A few decades of neglect and it melts into the landscape, its existence to be read only by the perceptive. It becomes archaeology, with some tenacious growths hinting at what once was there.
‘Gardeners know this; the fragility of the present is set against the robustness of digging and planting, the emphatic qualities of earth and roots and stems.
‘To garden is to seize the day.’—Penelope Lively, “A House Unlocked”
By the Sea, By the Sea: Prompted by commenter Catherine’s question about the little-grown perennial Crambe maritima, or sea kale, I found myself back in the late artist and filmmaker Derek Jarman’s garden in Dungeness, Kent, along the southeast coast of England, a place I visited in person years ago and where the plant naturalizes. Among the many gardens I have visited, Jarman’s was one of the most expressive and distinctive; you can see it (as I just did again) at Angusf’s Flickr photostream (above photo credit: Angusf). Hallelujah for such technology, and such sharing.
I used to grow sea kale. The whole virtual adventure that Catherine’s comment elicited—memories of my trip to Jarman’s, and of my plant tucked into the patio garden here—got me wondering whatever happened to both of them (and also why I no longer grow its giant cousin, Crambe cordifolia, another cabbage relative, either). Going off to buy both species now am I…
Turned up any good bits in your digital travels lately that you’d like to share?