Monday, March 23, 2009

Congressional Support for the White House Vegetable Garden

First Lady in the White House garden. Photo: The White House

The South Lawn of the White House. Photo: Stockxpert

First Lady Michelle Obama and local school children broke ground for the South Lawn garden on March 20, and the project has received widespread public support. A surge of interest in kitchen gardens has swept the country this winter, with seed companies running out of popular vegetable varieties. The current White House garden plan incorporates vegetables, edible and ornamental flowers, and herbs.

Senators and Representatives have formed ad hoc, bipartisan committees to assist with specific aspects of the garden, and to explore future additions. The initial committee assignments are:

Summer vegetables
Rep. Melissa Bean (D-IL)

Winter vegetables
Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME)

Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL)

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC)

Rep. Marion Berry (D-AK)
Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD)
Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-FL)
Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA)

Pest control
Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC)
Rep. Phil Hare (D-IL)
Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH)
Rep. Louise Slaughter (R-NY)

Subcommittee on beneficial insects for pest control
Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA)

Subcommittee on use of ducks for pest control
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV)

Rep. Lacy Clay (D-MO)

Organic practices
Rep. Al Green (D-TX)

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA)

The committee members denied they were jumping on the bandwagon of a popular program, and insisted they had been eating fresh fruits and vegetables with their constituents for many years.

© Daffodil Planter 2009. All rights reserved.

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Scotch Broom, begone!

Fire is no joke.

Cytisus scoparius (Scotch Broom) is invasive and flammable. Fires (not earthquakes) are the natural disasters threatening Nevada County; our neighbor, the Tahoe National Forest, burned in the massive California and Nevada forest fires last summer. The conflagration came within a few miles of my town of Nevada City.

Citizens are banding together to tackle Scotch Broom, which is a significant fuel source. I'm impressed, and think this is a good model for other communities that face danger from flammable plants.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Vernal Equinox 2009

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Calling All "Garden Snobs"

The glow of the Vernal Equinox will soon bathe us in happy garden thoughts. In the short time before that happens, let's vent about the flowers and bushes we don't love so much.

What ornamental plant sets your teeth on edge when you see it in a garden, or even on a friend's seed list? What proudly displayed botanical specimen makes you fantasize about applying a judicious spray of Round-Up™? [No, Scotts isn't paying me for product placement in this post, but they can go ahead and contact me!] 

I've got a theory, and I contend that the cringe-making plants fall into one of the following categories:

Too bright a color. Some find fault with the vivid yellow forsythia hybrids for that reason. 

Too far from the original color. Flowers that trigger a startle reflex when one sees them--mauve daylilies, for instance.

Too strange a form. Double peony tulips are odd--they don't look like tulips and they certainly aren't peonies. I'd like them better if they had a different name.

Most of you are broad-minded gardeners; surely, though, there is some breach of good taste in the botanical world that you long to correct. Come on, tell.

You have to name two. First, a plant so dreadful that you believe it should be removed from commerce so no one can buy it anymore. Second, the merely annoying, a plant that makes you turn quickly away.

I'll start. 

Dreadful: Double Narcissi, all varieties. Those mangled darlings look like someone attacked them with an egg beater. If you don't believe me, study the photo above. 

Merely annoying: Anthuriums. Go back to the jungle, you red and pink anthuriums, with all deliberate speed. In a post-petroleum world the flowers might possibly be useful as a plastic substitute.

And now that I've offended many of you (I'm sorry, I just had to get it off my chest), I hope that someone else will join me. This is sort of like a Gardeners Anonymous meeting, "My name is Daffodil Planter and I am a garden snob".  Will you stand up and tell the truth too? 

Irish Blessing for You on Saint Patrick's Day

May brooks and trees and singing hills
Join in the chorus too,
And every gentle wind that blows
Send happiness to you.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Forsaken Forsythia

Was there ever a plant more derided by garden snobs?




The really low blow:


Well, I don't get it. When we bought our garden (and the house in it) we found a large stand of forsythia along the back fence. The bright flowers on the arching branches are cheerful harbingers of Spring, in my book. I don't know what variety we have, but I suspect it's the loathed Forsythia x intermedia that horrifies the aesthetes of the botanical world.

To me, a blooming spray of forsythia against the sky is a fountain of light.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Love blooms in Asheville, North Carolina

I feel like you're my soul mate, Alice!

I feel that way too, George, and it's only been an hour since we met.

Alice, I want to know every marvelous detail about you. Where do you live, my sweet?

I have a Tudor house in Montford--

My favorite neighborhood!

And I grow a lot of shade plants--

I do too!

Especially rhododendrons.

Native rhododendrons?

Oh, all kinds. You know George, there are so many pretty hybrids and I--

This won't work Alice.

What?! What do you mean?

I can't possibly have a relationship with someone who grows non-native plants.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Looking for a garden blogger near you?

It can get lonely out there in the garden.

Take my neighbor in the photo, who's clearly wanting to make contact with someone. I suspect that particular mountain lion is focused on pest control issues, and isn't in the mood to kick back and swap stories about how much snow we had two weeks ago--but I'm just guessing.

For neighborly chat and advice, it's great to be able to turn to garden bloggers in one's own neck of the woods. If this mountain lion had a garden blog, what would it be called? A Mountain Lion's Tale?

If the lion is as smart as I think he is, he'll find dinner and then afterward log on to Blotanical, the international directory of almost 1500 garden blogs.

With Blotanical he can use the site's map of the world to find other garden bloggers in the Sierra Nevada foothills. We're a fun bunch, and he could really get his teeth into our discussions about deer in the garden.

He can also check out countries that hold particular interest for him--no East African garden bloggers yet, but he might enjoy the videos of wild birds at the United Kingdom blogs.

If he wants to locate native plant bloggers who share some of his particular enthusiasms (manzanita, anyone?) he can type the plant name in to "search blogs" and he'll receive a list of posts about it.

Believe me, there are posts on "mountain lions" too, so that should give him something to chew on, these long winter nights.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

White cottage garden in my head, puddles underfoot

Hard choice: go for a walk in the heavy rain, or stay inside and plan a new garden? 

I have a sunny, irrigated, six-foot by six-foot dooryard that cries out for a design. It used to be a shade garden, filled with Bergenia cordifolia and Acanthus mollis by the previous owners. The Incense Cedar that towered over it all suffered a tragic end, the Bergenia have gone to live under a plum tree in Grass Valley, and the Acanthuses manfully grow then faint in the heat of our summers.

The county government may be sending Plant Protective Services over to rescue the poor Acanthuses. We promise to dig down deep and move them as soon as we safely can.

We have neglected this dooryard, thinking that next year we will revamp and expand the front walk. So here is a desert eyesore, banked on either side by woodsy shade gardens. Something pretty and temporary is called for.

My brilliant idea yesterday was a potager, and then I remembered my good friends the mule deer. A deerproof potager of garlic, onions and rhubarb did not beguile me.

Today's thought is a cottage garden of white blooms. I love white gardens and there is an old patch of Iberis Candytuft in place. Here is a list of other possible flowers, short to tall. Please let me know if you have experience with these:

Alyssum 'Tiny Tim'
Eschscholzia californica California Poppy 'White Linen'
Tanacetum partheniven Feverfew
Nigella Love in a Mist
Zinnia elegans 'Polar Bear' 
Nicotiana alata 'Jasmine Alata'
Nicotiana sylvestris Indian Peace Pipe
Cosmos bipinnatus 'White Seashells'
Helianthus debilis Sunflower 'Vanilla Ice'

And what cottage garden is complete without Alcea Hollyhock? Mine--the deer delight in it.