links: a thoughtful video, beginner blunders, more

MORE RAIN THE LAST WEEK MEANS a happier landscape, and also more links to share, since I sat sidelined, waiting for breaks in the action to go out and tidy up–or take pictures of a fiery doublefile Viburnum leaf, above, and whatever else is still smoldering. From a tender video of one man’s 40-year garden-writing career, to the story of a “seed library” up in my neck of the woods, to beginner blunders and the impact of gardening on the restaurant business (think: big), the latest digital harvest:

The Thoughtful Gardener

AA READER SENT NEWS of the understated but powerful video from garden writer Robin Lane Fox of “The Financial Times,” who recently marked 40 years at his enviable post.  I have never fed a badger Prozac, but beyond that small tactical difference in our takes on horticulture, I felt an immediate kinship with Lane Fox. I suspect you will, too. Go over to the FT site to have a watch. (Fox’s column archive is here. His latest book, “Thoughtful Gardening,” is due next month in the United States.)

Beginner Blunders:

WHAT WAS YOUR WORST beginner-gardener mistake? (Mine was—is—always the equivalent of “her eyes are too big for her stomach,” as in taking on too much to handle.) A recent article on Planet Green by Colleen Vanderlinden cited 10 rookie blunders. One word on the whole notion of mistakes: I always tell audiences at lectures that “you have to grow it to know it,” which typically means killing something a couple of times, or at least watching it limp along awhile till you get the knack. I prefer to think of my mistakes as simply practice sessions. I know Colleen agrees.

Fresh From the Garden Cuisine

NO SURPRISE AT ALL that a survey of 2,000 chefs by the National Restaurant Association yielded the verdict that gardening has been the single most important influence on their business lately. The details.

Seedy Business

IWAS THRILLED to see my neighbors Ken Greene and Doug Muller of Hudson Valley Seed Library profiled in “The New York Times” recently, and glad to tell the reporter why I love purchasing heirloom seeds (packed in the industry’s most inventive origami-like packets, unfolded at left) from them. (On the not-so-happy side, I bone-headedly seem to have also said that it was ‘Black Valentine’ bean seeds that have a heart-shaped marking on them, when in fact it’s love in a puff vine, or Cardiospermum halicacabum. I got my various hot romances mixed up; so sorry. To make my wish come true, the team at HVSL have kindly hired a painter with very small brushes to update each seed in next year’s orders of ‘Black Valentine’ with a tiny heart. Kidding.) You can get their online catalog here.

  1. Thank you for the heads up on Robin Lane Fox’s new book. I owe him a great debt: Just before I began my first (well, actually my ONLY garden!) at Longears in 1987 I read his book “Better Gardening” and I planted 2 weeping crabapples, variety “Red Jade’ on his recommendation. In those days, I had to search diligently through catalogues to find them – no internet and really limited local nursery stock. All these years later, they are still wonders in the garden – fabulous during every season.
    Loved his video clip, too. It’s just the way I imagined him, which tells you how well he communicates with his writing.

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Harold. He looks pretty happy rooting around out there on his own, but it also looks daunting in scale! Nice to “see” you and do come to say hello again soon.

  2. Jayne says:

    I do love to start my week ends off right each week by reading RLF’s column during breakfast. He always has an opinion which demands thought and comment, even when there is difference and dissent (often!)!
    Surely could get his book from abroad, but I will be the patient gardener and wait for it to arrive by slow boat to the US!
    Thank you for the link !

  3. Anne says:

    Just wanted to thank you for introducing me (and through me, my sister
    and her friend) to Hal Borland’s Twelve Moons of the Year. I first heard
    you talk about the book on the Natural Estate Book on the radio and have
    become a true Hal Borland fan! I now own several of his books but
    Twelve Moons of the Year is the one I get out most often. Thank you!

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Anne. So funny: That was my sister, Marion, who does The Naturalist’s Datebook show on Martha Stewart Radio. :) I love Hal Borland, too, so it’s a family thing — but I think it was Marion you heard. Even our parents sometimes confused us, and everyone does! Glad that you have found the Roach sisters at any rate; stop in soon again.

  4. How good to hear someone who agrees with growing plants as a means of knowing them. My motto has always been “Grow it. Kill it. Know it.” We can say that because we’re in horticulture…not medicine. Enjoy the lovely autumn.

  5. Mary-Jane says:

    My worst gardening mistake: I am making a long border that’s at its best in the fall. ( 2hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’s, 5 Stewartia pseudocamellia (5), 9 Japanese anemone ‘Honorine Jobert’s and 6 oakleaf hydrangeas) among other things. The mistake: This border needs an evergreen background to set off the shrubs’ and trees’ fall colour. And I did not think of this!!

  6. Nora says:

    Thanks for that wonderful video clip! Got the book and loved the read. Delicious aside–did you notice the grey and brown socks? Definitely more interested in the world around him than in his attire!

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