Monday, May 31, 2010

Forget Me Not, Dear Garden Putter

I selected this photo of my False Forget Me Nots, which finished blooming a few weeks ago, as an homage to negligence. I have lapsed in my care and upkeep of Garden Putter. If one is to blog, one must be consistent and maintain said blog, just as one maintains a garden. But, alas, there comes a time when we must admit that it simply isn't possible to do it all.

I like to blog in the early morning hours when I can't sleep. I wake up too early and I drink coffee and I sit and ponder the day. I've read the paper, I've Googled a few phrases and then an idea comes to me and I write. I love the blog for its ease in the making and  practice of churning a mental flow of ideas into sentences, and if luck will have it, a narrative. But with the hoisting, lifting, bending, kneeling, twisting and digging that it takes to launch a garden in the spring, sweet sleep keeps me glued to the sheets every morning. The alarm sounds and I drag my aching body up and have only time enough to dress and get to work.

On this Memorial Day Monday, I lingered long and lazy, luxuriating in the hot sunshine streaming in on my pillow. I don't miss haunting the dark morning hours. It's good to sleep in.

But today, when I finally got up, I had to race to the garden, even before I'd had my coffee, carrying water can after water can to dowse my potted plants. It will be the first hot day of our growing season, a high in the 90s. The air conditioning is on. The dog is splayed out on the wood floor, panting. I think I'll need to spray the vegetable garden with the hose later this morning to shield it against the coming heat. It's now officially summer and the garden--potatoes, cucumbers, squash, peppers, tomatoes, basil, marjoram, chamomile--is planted and ready for the hot, sunny growing season ahead. I hope to continue sleeping soundly in each morning, but I'm sure I'll be back to rising before the sun, and sputtering here on Putter. The Putterer

Friday, May 21, 2010

Weekend List

Friday. First thing. Make a list. First thing on the list, coffee. Now, pencil in items one through a dozen or so more:

Mow, compost, run, garden, go to garden store, plant, weed, clip, bag, rearrange plants, heave and lift, advil, lawn chair, dream of new ideas, execute a quick few, pick lettuce, make salad, groceries, margarita, wine, walk dog, neighbors, deck, baseball, movie, Jim, moon, coffee, newspaper, politics, bird song, dog, iron clean sheets, bike ride, recipe, grocery store, meal, sun set, sleep, groggy, sore, coffee, back to work. The Putterer

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Flags are Flying: Iris Sibirica

You can't go wrong with Iris Sibirica. These white and blues I planted in 2007 from mail order supplier Bluestone Perennials and this morning, Claire and I went out to the garden with our coffee and sat within feet of these beauties.

Delicate. They look almost as if someone folded them origami style from a piece of paper. They sit atop strong stems and their delicate skirts are each patterned with a hint of yellow (the whites) and purple (the blues). There are some 300 varieties of iris and most people grow beardeds, Japanese and Sibirica. The beardeds are also in bloom guarding my front fence like the sturdy, good soldiers they are.

Today, with Claire home, I wanted to spend just a small amount of time gardening so that I could be with her for most of the day. (We went out for a run together this morning and she reported that I "kicked her butt." Go 49-year-old Mom!) So I did very little yard work, a little trimming and some weed wacking, but I got my seeds planted. Put in some Zinnias in rows at the back of the vegetable garden. Behind those, I put in four seeds that will hopefully sprout to those wonderful tall sunflowers. I've rarely been successful at growing those easy weeds, so fingers crossed. I also laid in some nasturtium all around the vegetable box and I put in a row of radishes in the lasagna garden.

No sightings of any toads. I bet for all the tadpole rearing, any of my little guys survived. Sniff. The Putterer

Friday, May 14, 2010

Goodbye Garden Warrior, Hello Contemplation

I love the mornings and this morning is particularly fine. I've said it before, working on deadline all the time can be so exhausting, but the complete relief that comes at the end when the project is done is so satisfying. I am close to completion on the next issue of the little visitors guide, goSmithsonian, at work.

And so is the garden in a state of near completion. When I step into it now, after so many years, I no longer see ungardened spaces that I want to conquer. The warrior gardener in me is waning. Instead, the contemplative gardener is emerging. I go there now and find it a place for deep breaths, for letting my shoulders sag just a little, for sitting, for listening. In my chair, I've watched a few shows take place, little dramas of nature. There's a cardinal, a male, who comes to the bird bath and he doesn't like the mosquito disk that I put in the water to keep the bugs at bay. With his beak, he flips it out on the ground. His mate hangs out in the rhodedendrum and sounds a cheery hello. The catbird, meanwhile, squawks at some unknown offense. And a tiny no-see-em tickles the back of my leg.

The trouble with loving mornings is the lack of sleep that eventually takes hold. I'm not a napper. I've never liked sleeping in the day. It makes me feel sick and groggy when I finally emerge from the coma that I descend into if I ever I let myself sleep during the day. But recently, in my chair, I took a tiny nap. It was the kind of nap that nappers brag about. "I shut my eyes for 30 minutes and I feel so refreshed," they say so smugly. And so with my magazines and my books, my journal and my kindle, piled up around me, I let myself drift off.

Today, my daughter is home from college. I won't be going to work. I have a few medical errands to tend to in the morning and then it is time to putter. The Putterer

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Tadpoles Go Terrestrial

Their little tails are slowly ebbing away. Forearms and back legs are growing. And this morning, two tadpoles, aka toadpoles, had climbed out of the water and up on the gravel rocks. So I transferred them from the glass bowl on my desk to a terrarium to keep them from jumping all around the kitchen. The Putterer

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Convergence of Work and Play Today

Today, work is play. I have an interview at one with HGTV's The Gardener Guy, Paul James. Tomorrow is National Public Gardens Day and Mr. James is its spokesperson. And the Smithsonian is home to some of the most unique public gardens in the U.S., perhaps even the world.

Most days, I'm a crazed editor, attempting to do far more than it is humanely possible to accomplish, and do it in the face of major stumbling blocks such as faulty publishing software platforms (don't even get me started on yesterday!). But today, in a state of utter calm, I will take leave of the cubicle and join Mr.James for a stroll through the native plants and vegetation and ponds and other delights that make up the garden surrounding the National Museum of the American Indian.

My friend and colleague Barbara Faust, an associate director at the Smithsonian and its chief horticulturalist (also a member of the American Public Gardens Association, sponsoring National Public Gardens Day) says she'll likely stop by to join us. Recently, Barbara told me that the Smithsonian had allowed her unit to change its name from the work-a-day Horticultural Services Division to the far more enchanting and certainly more authentic, Smithsonian Gardens. I know these places as nothing less. I have taken refuge on more than hundreds of occasions in my 20-plus years at the Institution within the sweet confines of these sanctuaries. (I always laugh at my frequent tardiness to any meeting scheduled at the Castle, because I always stop and smell the roses on my way over.)

Whenever I can, I grab a salad and a seat in the Mary Ripley Garden. My favorite bench is a shaded one in the horse shoe curve just on the outside of the Arts and Industries building. Here, petty office disputes melt away, office gossip grows insignificant, peace reigns and thoughts are collected. Namaste.

And this is also my botanical university. I see plants here that gardener Janet Draper collects and I make mental notes to have them also in my garden. I'm now a proud owner of a Harry Lauder Walking Stick. And this year, I'm going to nestle parsley in between my flowers, just like Janet does. And I'm absolutely going to have to figure out a place where I can put one of those tree peonies that bloomed earlier this spring. There are plants that stink and plants that soothe and whenever I'm there, I'm picking up tips, hints and ideas.

Now as for my interview with Mr. James, I hope he won't mind that I've never seen his TV show. (We came late to purchase cable, thinking we could keep our kids from watching so much TV.)  But perusing his website, I'm thinking we're going to get along just fine. My favorite one of his rants is one he did on gardeners who dump tons of fertilizer into their yards. I think he'll enjoy the native plants and restored ecology of the gardens surrounding the American Indian Museum. That place is a happy, healthy thriving space that rightfully shames the National Park Service and its nasty grass habit. NPS insists that grass is what should dominate the National Mall. Even though the original Mall was a beautiful garden of trees with meandering paths and a whole lot less grass.

Aha! I think I've found my topic now. I wonder if I can foment Mr. James into a rant about grass. I hate grass. I bet he does too. I'm off to start the day. The Putterer

Photo courtesy of

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Mouse & Trowel Awards: Garden Putter is a Finalist!

The Putterer is pretty pumped up today. She just got news that Garden Putter is a finalist in the 2010 Mouse & Trowel awards! Now, that is news to make a garden blogger's day.

Lest I forget to tell you, click here to vote.

And here without further ado, is just what you need to know about the awards.

The Mouse & Trowel Awards were founded by garden blogger and writer Colleen Vanderlinden in 2007 to draw attention to the hard work that gardenbloggers put into their blogs and to earn them some well-deserved recognition. Soon dubbed “The Mousies” by the garden blogging community, the awards have been covered in the Detroit Free Press, and on several blogs and websites.
“Think of it as the ‘People’s Choice Awards’ of the dirty hand set.” — Shirley Bovshow, garden designer, writer, speaker, and creator of Shirley Bovshow’s Garden World Report
Honoring garden blogs in a variety of categories including “Best Photography” and “Best Writing,” the awards try to bring attention to all of the effort that goes into our quirky but ever-growing niche. After all, we don’t just blog — we have to grow the gardens, too!
“… the Oscars of the garden blog world…” — Fran Sorin, garden designer, writer, and blogger at Gardening Gone Wild
The 2008 Mousie awards drew over 500 votes in the final round of voting — amazing considering that there were only ten categories of awards. This year’s Mousies will build on our prior success, but also take advantage of something we didn’t have back in 2008 — social media. With associated Twitter and Facebook fan pages, we’re going to make it even easier to spread the word about both the nomination and voting phase — even allowing nominees to easily link to the category in which they’d like to drum up some votes.
“Blogosphere changing…” Susan Harris, garden coach and blogger at and
If you are involved with a garden-related company that would be interested in providing either financial support or prizes to the winning bloggers, please contact Colleen Vanderlinden at colleen {at} . And if you have questions, those are welcome, too!