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Out With The Bold, In With The New

The danger of frost past, full energies devoted to the changeover from spring’s frost tolerant displays to summer’s heat loving luxuriant textures and colors. Don’t forget your vegetables! Was never directed at me at the family dining table. My siblings, yes, my father, likely, but not me. Besides being a nearly flawless child, I loved my vegetables: couldn’t get enough of them, still can’t. However, I am not a vegetable gardener: that is too much work. Just as I fancy myself a cook, not a baker: that’s chemistry. 

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Under The Influence

Every year I struggle under the weight of our own precedent. “Chanticleer, the edgiest garden in the country” and other such terms applied to us are wonderful, but consider the maintenance of such a reputation.  So I struggle, I obsess. While installing this year’s display, I am already considering next year’s options. This plant in my hand, can I use it again next year? Should I use it again? This January I was given the opportunity of a horticulturist’s lifetime. The gift of travel. Chanticleer sent me to New Zealand to visit gardens, public and private, nurseries and production facilities, public spaces as well as natural areas. Three weeks was just about enough time to get a real sense of that amazing country and to adjust one’s sensibilities to the Kiwi aesthetic.

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The Importance of Frost Tolerant Plants

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

It was springtime. The most difficult of times when the sun in the sky and the warm breeze said yes, but the calendar still said May 15th. Mid May is the commonly accepted frost free date here in the Delaware Valley. The date that most adventurous gardeners confidently bring out their half hardy and tender plants to offer up the sacrifical alter that is the garden. Not me.

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Making Lemonade

For those of you who have visitied Chanticleer in the last few years, you may remember a grand vessel, a Turkish oil jar looming in the courtyards. In a rare display of restraint, I have avoided planting this wonderful piece. For one thing, I couldn’t decide which of the many plants I work with that was worthy of this preeminent stage. Secondly, to fill a vessel as large as this one would require a soil mass likely in excess of 500 pounds…dry. So, empty it stood. The nice thing about it being empty was its mobility. Season to season, it would reappear in other areas: as feature, as focal point, as foil. Well, ths spring, upon its emergence into the garden, disaster struck. In a move I had done dozens of times before, a carefully choreographed dance to move this pot, I lost control of it and down it went. It didn’t crack. It didn’t shatter. It nearly vaporized in a cloud of dust, imploding upon its own substantial weight.

Never to lessen the severity of the day’s event, but like the towers as they fell that fateful day. Well, one can cry over spilt terra cotta, or one can work with it.

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