Posts Tagged: Gardening

Did You Remember To Compost Your Thanksgiving Garbage?

The most environmentally ethical way to deal with the waste of Thanksgiving feasts is to go to somebody else's house or a restaurant, so you can "let others worry about it." But millions of us who hosted the holiday dinner are now left with the additional work/guilt of doing something with all the rotting containers of increasingly gross five-day-old leftovers in the fridge.

The EPA says that "food waste" is now the "largest component of municipal solid waste being sent to landfills," at more than 33 million tons per year. That's good, because it means that recyclables like cardboard and aluminum and plastic are no longer the bulk of stuff [...]


The Daylily, Harbinger Of Your Sweet Death

One of the worst things about summer, at least in New York City, is that by the time the Fourth of July rolls around, you’re pretty much ready for it to be over. It’s beyond hot, everyone has stains down the middle of their backs and under their armpits, you can’t afford a beach vacation, you’re crushed into subway cars touching other people’s sweaty arms and legs in ways that would fall under a definition of intimate relations in almost any other scenario. For these reasons and more, it’s a good idea to stop and pay tribute to the daylily.


The Pleasure of Ruins

Lately in my travels through the blogosphere, I've detected increasing unhappiness with the intrusive nature of what could be called our "brand economy." As someone who identifies with this discontent, I was led to wonder if branding has actually grown more intense in recent years, or if by getting older-in the way one generation always complains about the next-I'm more impatient with the status quo of our more-or-less-in-theory capitalist system. After all, it's hardly controversial to say that since the dawn of mass production, and perhaps even earlier, we've lived in a "brand-driven" society; it's natural for companies to make products and advertise with the expectation that customers will [...]


The McKee Botanical Garden

On a recent trip to Vero Beach, I was interested and a little dismayed-in a way that's probably unavoidable in Florida when you consider the ongoing clash between the lush vegetation and strip-mall civilization-to learn that my parents' condominium is situated on the former site of a large botanical garden. Originally called Jungle Garden, it was built in 1922 on land purchased by Arthur McKee and Waldo Sexton (an engineer and a citrus grower, respectively) who like many of today's rich-ass motherfuckers financial leaders were obsessed with orchids and water lilies, and brought rare specimens from around the world to showcase to the interested public.


The Tryon in Winter

In the decade-plus I've lived in Washington Heights, I had never been to Fort Tryon Park in February, but this year, motivated by a resolution to run more (a resolution that slipped by in January), I went twice. The first time was on the weekend of the snowstorm that walloped much of the East Coast but managed to miss New York City, stopping-or so I heard-at Staten Island. After heading north on Fort Washington Avenue, which ascends along the western ridge of upper Manhattan, I arrived at the park on 190th Street, where I was greeted by a crescent of elegant sycamore trees and a coterie of chirping sparrows. [...]


City Island

As I turned on to City Island Avenue, the first thing I noted was a series of magnificent trees, all eviscerated so as not to interfere with the almighty power lines. 'Can't Bloomberg do something about this?' I asked Stephen and we both laughed, knowing that the mayor has only been north of 96th Street ___ times during his 10,000 years in office, much less to any part of the Bronx beyond a 500-foot radius of Yankee Stadium.


Gardening Is My Blank

On the taxi ride from the 'Ronald Reagan' National Airport, the majestic trees lining the Potomac cannot completely overcome a manicured sterility of the landscape that seems appropriately Orwellian, given the proximity of the Pentagon. Unlike so many great urban parks-e.g., Rock Creek Park, just a few miles away-which beckon with the allure of brief, anonymous sexual encounters, the most prominent 'cruising' in this stretch of Virginia seemed to be that of a police vehicle intruding in the shot, as if to warn against even imagining what might be going on in the back seats of those parked cars in the distance.


Maria Thun, 1922-2012

"Planting the vegetables when the moon was in different constellations, she discovered, resulted in their growing into different forms and sizes. Over years of research she concluded that root crops (including onions and leeks, which are not technically root crops) do best if sown when the moon is passing through constellations associated with the earth element; leafy crops do best when the moon is associated with water signs; flowering plants do best associated with air signs, and fruits did better with fire signs." —German gardener Maria Thun, who put the "biodynamics" theory of cosmic, occultist philosopher Rudolph Steiner to test in her garden and wrote a popular [...]


A Tree Peony (The Lives They Lived)

Like so many from the old country, my parents were hard workers. They led quiet lives and poured their hopes into their offspring, of whom I was the eldest.


Damselfish Fish Even More Obsessive About Gardening Than Previously Thought

Marine biologists have known for a while about the territorial instincts of the damselfish. (That's one in that video there, the two-tone yellow-and-black number, telling a bunch of other fish and a scuba diver to get the hell off its lawn.) The small, tropical reef fish is famous for claiming a patch of algae and chasing off any other creatures than swim or crawl nearby. But that's not all!



The transition from March to April, as we all know, is most often associated with madness, daffodils, spring crocuses and the blazing yellow branches of forsythia now rising like a thousand sunbeams around the city. In Washington Heights, however, it is the hellebore that now takes the stage, with a more subdued and gothic charm.


The Cubicle Garden: An Interview

Matthew Gallaway: You have a very lovely and unusual green plant on your desk — can you tell me what kind it is? Jessica Picone: It is a ZZ plant! Zamioculcas zamiifolia. [Also called 'Zanzibar Gem.'] Matthew: How long have you had it? Jessica: Since July, I believe. Matthew: It looks very healthy-does it get any natural light? Jessica: No! This beauty has thrived in the complete absence of natural light. It lives in my cubicle.


The Oxford Botanic Garden

The second I walked through the entrance of the University of Oxford Botanic Garden, I knew I had made the right decision to skip the historic site of ____ (est. 1287), which several of my colleagues opted to visit on a recent Sunday afternoon before a series of 'business meetings' that would occupy us through the duration of our stay.


Gay Gardens

As we like to do every October, Stephen and I recently drove to Brewster, a small town in Westchester County, about an hour north of the city. Our first destination was the company ____, which you will no doubt recognize as an importer of fine ceramics, glass and textiles-not to mention garden statuary and urns. They were holding an 'outlet sale' at their office-park warehouse.


Tiny Gardens: The Terrific Stoops, Roofs and Bitty Front Lawns of Brooklyn

Last August, Jill Harrison bought a house on a very manicured block of Crown Heights. She hasn’t had to leave her property to meet the neighbors. The time she spends on her front lawn, installing native plants, herbs and sedum, brings neighborhood kids wanting “to pick something” and nods of approval from old-timers headed to the nearby Baptist church or West Indian restaurant. Most impressive to passers-by: her stoop, where, in more than 17 pots and containers, she’s growing wild strawberries, Portuguese peppers, a blueberry bush, lemon verbena and cucumbers—basically, she said, “things we can eat or put in our drinks.”

“It’s an easy conversation starter,” she said [...]


Trees and Plants of Human Use and Significance

Recently I spent a week in Ithaca, where I went to Cornell from 1986-1990, or six hundred million years ago. Not having been there since graduation, I immediately noted a very important difference between my present and former self: namely, I couldn't wait to spend some time in the botanical gardens, toward which I had been largely oblivious as an undergrad.


Cascading Campanula

With spring almost a fading memory, the June garden offers more subdued and textured pleasures. The deciduous trees have leafed out, the tips of the conifers-which just a few weeks ago were shimmering and almost translucent-have matured, and the deep burgundy tones of the Japanese maple and columnar beech have been diluted with a more pedestrian if not completely unsatisfying green. Not that I'm complaining: there's still much to look forward to during what remains of the growing season before the August doldrums, and if anything, later arrivals in the garden should be all the more valued as a result of our awareness of the limited time that remains. [...]


Friends! Take Heart! Winter Was Indeed Harsh, But Spring Is Here!

After the blizzards and hurricanes of early March, I went out to the garden to assess the damage. The plants, a sad exhibit of cracked limbs and blackened, desiccated leaves, seemed to confirm that for all concerned, it had been a fucking brutal winter.


In Search of Lost Roses

As Stephen and I pulled into the parking lot of our favorite nursery on a recent Saturday afternoon-we were here to buy mulch-I felt a stab of regret that it was not the 'Month of Mary,' followed by a second stab of regret that we were not walking through the countryside of France (followed by a third that it was 2009 and a fourth that ____).


Jumel Terrace

The best route to Jumel Terrace is by way of a small staircase located on St. Nicholas Avenue just north of 160th Street, on the east side. Before you get to the garish teal awning of the adjacent supermarket, turn right and walk up the fifteen or so steps to the top. The ghetto behind you-the housing projects, the dealers, the 99-cent stores, the tinted-window SUVs roaring up and down Amsterdam Avenue and the (faggot-hating) iglesias pentecostales-will instantly recede as you are delivered into one of the city's most forgotten landscapes.