Urban Gardener: Paradise Survives Snowstorms!
Saturday, February 15, 2014
Some of us look out the window, shudder, and turn inward and visualize the future garden. I find this quiets the mind and brings the soul just a bit closer to inspire growth, especially from under a nice thick warm quilt and a colorful mass of printed seed catalogs. Soon, I drift from the printed pages of hibiscus blooms the size of children and Indian corn thick with brilliant colors. Rather the images in my mind are metaphors for those intrinsic concerns so vital to all of us and salways at the gardener’s finger tips. Relax, breath deep, focus upon breathing, inhale the fresh air so important to survival, exhale the enriched breath, full of CO2 and just right for plants to photosynthesize into those complex carbon molecules basic to all vegetative life. As gardeners align themselves with the rhythm of life we are receptive to growth of all kinds. Snow is no longer a barrier.
Teach younger people the importance of diaphragmatic breathing, “just like when you’re sleeping, pull the air in with your belly until your lungs are full and gently push all the air out, and repeat”. Demonstrate, show interest, engage with youngsters and they will learn lessons important throughout their lives. Properly staged, the spirit will guide where formerly gambles and guesses sustained effort. Already, as the snow covers mulch and seed beds, a garden is prepared.
A Time to be Thoughtful
Gardeners are thoughtful people. There are no barriers to understanding the need for all to expand, encompass, embrace. We emulate nature herself when we nurture. There is much room in the human heart for love and it is love that guides the garden’s course. A glance at the garden beds and a voice unheard yet spoken addresses the soul within and tells us, goodness is found here.
I live to browse through seed catalogs with friends and loved ones. Do you dismiss catalogs as repetitious, an asparagus or zinnia looks much the same from vender to vender. This is a mistake easy to make. Yes, do save trees and resources and look online. Or no, preserve the retro feel of paper, the ability to make notes on margins (yes, no, MUST HAVE) or compare prices with impunity.
I like to cut out pictures and descriptions and tape into three ring notebooks. These pictures guide future themes. For example, I plant a fragrant garden. I’m always looking for plants that explore the lexicon of fragrance. Lemon thyme, lemon balm and lemon scented geraniums all describe variations on lemon. Each has a different approach, thyme for cooking, balm for teas, indeed lemon balm is one of the great herbal teas, mysteriously changing its flavor while it brews and the scented geranium is ideal for drying and mixing with lavender to put in bureaus and chests of drawers. Yet I’d be remiss, indeed utterly negligent, if I didn’t star and highlight lemon verbena.
Lemon verbena is the ultimate expression of lemon in northern gardens. A small shrub in its native Argentina, lemon verbena grows rapidly from small cuttings commonly available in garden centers and especially those all too rare home garden stands. I’ve grown lemon verbena in pots and directly in the ground. They’ll do well in either but for fast outstanding growth in moderate sunshine and plenty of moisture the garden is better. Grown in large pots they are suspectable to drying out, a major hindrance to future growth. This is one potted plant that is always grown with a deep saucer beneath the pot kept wet during the hot weather so conductive to rapid growth. I move the potted verbena to the cellar from November through the end of March. I prune back the shrub like plant to a nice cluster of basic stem and branches. All of the leaves will fall off and to all appearances the plant will appear dead.
Despair Not, Gardeners
Don’t despair! Keep up with a small watering just to keep the soil from becoming utterly dry. Latter, in early spring, increase your watering a tad. As March roles around, slowly increase the watering. There is much promise here. Within days of being brought out into sunshine and given a good soak the potted lemon verbena will sprout leaves. This champion does not quit, stems extend outward and light green leaves emerge con gusto. All parts of the plant contain the truest lemon flavor and uplift the spirit as well as the good will in all who pass by. The scent lingers on the air long after any trace for wind.
Make sure your three ring binder is large enough for many pages. Soon you’ll collate varieties into chapters and discover worlds only suggested in single catalogs. A wonderful example are the daylilies for those who must include blooms in their garden and that surely is true for all of us. There are legions of varieties and many, such as Stella d’Oro, appear in catalog after catalog. Grow this winner and rejoice. Don’t ignore its many cousins. Any sunny border of moderate fertility is fine for these lilies and an excellent choice of plant to use as a teaching aid to learning gardeners. Their thick clumps of roots are best lifted and divided every third year and certainly if the center of the planting has developed an empty hole, giving the planting a donut look. Break apart generous clumps and replant at the same level as before. Beneath the roots and on them, dust with lots of bonemeal and work into the compost and soil in the new locations plenty of fertilizer and compost. This early spring or late fall project is very rewarding and will provide not only stronger, fresher blooms each day but also make fine gifts from youngsters to their older gardener friends. Each home grown division is larger than the sum of its parts when presented in this way: it may be hard to see at first but there is a lot of love and heart with those divisions.
Snow is the gardener’s friend. As it protects the soil beneath from harsh winds and variations in temperatures much life continues unabated. Left alone in the garden it is time for the gardener to snuggle up with loved ones, cookies and brownies, cold milk or flavorful tea and talk, exchange ideas, be together. Breath deep, practice mindfulness and hold hands. Gardeners are loving people, give peace a chance.
10 Ways To Celebrate Mardi Gras in New England
Magic Hat Mardi Gras
Though Vermont may be the perfect place for skiing and winter activities, it also hosts a memorable Mardi Gras celebration. The Magic Hat festival comes to Burlington, Vermont for three fun-filled days from February 28th to March 2nd. This festival is filled with fun costumes, parades, beer and is appropriate for all ages. The big parade takes place on Saturday March 1st and proceeds from this event benefit HOPE Works. Click here for more information.
Magic Hat Mardi Gras: Church Street, Burlington, VT, 05401
Mardi Gras Ball XXI
On Saturday March 1st take part in Wolf’s 21st annual Mardi Gras Ball, a longstanding musical tradition. To take part in this rocking night purchase tickets online and get ready to listen to some New-Orleans style rhythm and blues. The ball features an all-star Mardi Gras band with Shaun Wolf Wortis and Vudu Krewe and other various artists. Proceeds from the event benefit New Orleans Musician’s Clinic. For more information, click here.
Mardi Gras Ball XXI: The Bear’s Place, 10 Brookline Street, Cambridge, MA, 02139
Mardi Gras! Beer, Beads And Bad Decisions
You’ll have your fair share of party hopping to do because the largest Mardi Gras masquerade party in Boston is on Saturday March 1st. Doors open at 9 pm for those between the ages of 21-42 where there will be a complementary buffet, beads and a prize for the best dressed, so make sure you come in your best purple, green and gold attire. Tickets are $20 online and $30 at the door. There are also drink specials for those who show up between 9:30 pm and 10:30 pm. Click here for more information.
Mardi Gras! Beer, Beads And Bad Decisions: The North Star, 222 Friend Street, Boston, MA, 02222
Cajun & Zydeco Mardi Gras Ball
From 6 pm to midnight on March 1st celebrate Mardi Gras with authentic music and nonstop dancing at the Cajun & Zydeco Mardi Gras Ball located in Rhode Island. Tickets are $30 in advance and $40 at the door. Don’t miss music by Steve Riley & Mamou Playboys, CJ Chenier & Red Hot Louisiana Band, the Hot Tamales Brass Band and more. For more information, click here or call 401.783.3926.
Cajun & Zydeco Mardi Gras Ball: Rhodes on the Pawtuxet, 60 Rhodes Place, Cranston, RI, 02905
Black Eyed Sally’s
On March 4th the Mardi Gras celebrations head over to Hartford, Connecticut. Black Eyed Sally’s is partying all day on Fat Tuesday starting with an all-you-can eat southern lunch buffet from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm for just $12.95. After lunch happy hour starts at 4:30 pm and ends at 6:30 pm where they will be offering free Southern Vitties and drink specials. Finally, from 7:30 pm to 12:30 am enjoy dinner and dancing with Rivercity Slim & the Zydeco Hogs for just a $5 cover. Face painters, beads and stilt walkers and also things you won’t want to miss out on at Black-eyed Sally’s. Click here for more details.
Black Eyed Sally’s: 350 Asylum Street, Hartford, CT, 06103
Ogunquit’s Mardi Gras
When you head to Ogunquit, Maine on Mardi Gras weekend you’ll almost forget that you’re not on the New Orleans Bayou. This annual celebration does not skimp on any Mardi Gras fun, it has a list of events that runs the entire weekend including fire juggling, a hat making party, a costume party, a parade, wine tasting and more. For more details, click here.
Ogunquit’s Mardi Gras: 36 Main Street, Ogunquit, ME, 03907
This Carnival season Mount Snow will transform into its very own Bourbon Street. On March 1st Bud light will be sponsoring Apres Ski parties at different bars throughout the weekend and you won’t want to miss the Bud Light Concert Series at the Snowbarn. Click here for more details.
Mount Snow: 39 Mount Snow Road, West Dover, VT, 05356
The Firehouse Center for the Arts
If it is the jazz music that makes you excited for Mardi Gras, the Firehouse Center for the Arts in Newburyport is where you will want to be on March 5th. Before you watch Doreen’s Jazz New Orleans take the stage, sample delicious appetizers and sport your complementary Mardi Gras beads. Prior to the live performance you will also get to watch the New Orleans Mardi Gras parades in the theater. The party begins at 6:30 pm and the performance is at 8 pm. Purchase tickets online for $37. Click here for more information or call 978.462.733.
The Firehouse Center for the Arts: Market Square, Newburyport, MA, 01950
NRICA Mardi Gras 2014
On February 22nd the Northern Rhode Island Council of the Arts will be sponsoring its 20th annual Mardi Gras celebration. Tickets are $30 or $35 at the door (cash only) and with your ticket you’ll get to enjoy a full Cajun buffet, a cash bar and live music by Jeff Gamache and Runaway Train and Slippery Sneakers. The party goes from 5:30 pm until 11 pm. For more details call 401.762.9072 or click here.
St. Ann Arts and Cultural Center: 84 Cumberland Street, Woonsocket, RI, 02895
Celebrate Mardi Gras on March 1st with The Boston Horns at The International. The Boston Horns are an original funk and jazz band who will be playing a concert in the ballroom of The International. This concert and a dinner buffet only cost $39 and you will get to enjoy food inspired by the tradition and culture of New Orleans. Get your tickets online or call 978.779.6919
The International: 159 Balville Road, Bolton, MA, 01740
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