April 19, 2008 |
Farrier Andrew Neilson loves shoeing horses, but yesterday's weather proved to be a temptress too hot to resist. "I was in the area doing some work," said Neilson, 19. "But it was such a nice day, I decided to do some fishing. " So Neilson was standing in the shade outside West Chester, trying to land a trout swimming in the still-cool waters of Valley Creek in the Paradise Valley Nature Area. "I had a trout, but he popped off," said an unperturbed Neilson as he outfitted his hook with a new batch of bait.
September 7, 2007 |
From the front, Ritamary Hanly's house looks typically suburban - a two-story stone Colonial with a respectable lawn. But out back, in the garden, it's another world. Hanly calls it paradise. Not to knock "paradise," but this is West Norriton Township, near Norristown, which even Hanly, a retired family doctor, admits isn't exactly the gardening capital of Pennsylvania. Turns out, paradise truly is where you find it, or make it, and hers is one of those complete surprises that you can't see from the road and would never imagine is back there.
August 3, 2007 |
Have a friend harvest the vegetable garden while you're away, so that when you return more will be ripening for you. Sow fall crops in the vegetable garden, planting seed a bit deeper than in spring. If rain is scarce, turn on the sprinkler. Lettuce and spinach can wait a few weeks. Limit fertilizing to the vegetable garden and annuals you have cut back for a second flush of bloom. Hold off pruning shrubs till late November. Late pruning induces new growth that may not have time to harden off for surviving winter.
March 2, 2007 |
Whether it arrives like a lion or a lamb, March in Southeastern Pennsylvania brings the first snowdrops, the Philadelphia Flower Show, and - hurrah! - the start of a new gardening season. Here's some recent horticultural news to pique your interest: A spoonful of sugar helps the salt go down. In trees, that is. Salt deicers are a necessary evil this time of year, but they take their toll on a tree when the ice melts into the ground. Salt buildup in the soil can become toxic, leading to twig dieback, leaf or needle burn, reduced growth, and, ultimately, the death of the tree.
April 22, 2003 |
One day, Sinclair Adam wants to see golf courses buffered by alfalfa and landscaped lawns full of phlox. Adam, an adjunct professor at Temple University Ambler, is trying to figure out which plants suck up pollution from groundwater. In particular, he's focusing on nitrogen, which comes by ground in fertilizers and by air as acid rain. Nitrogen is an essential element. Everyone needs it; but too much nitrogen in groundwater can cause cancer, and Adam hopes plants can help protect people.
August 23, 1997 |
My friend Jim Malone and I once argued about which month was the toughest. I picked February. Jim, always a contrarian, said February was a fine month, an excellent month, and any fool knew the worst month was August. Naturally, August was my favorite. Our choices were skewed by our origins. Jim, a long-time Swarthmore resident now living in Kennett, had grown up in East Texas, where a human being in August is just a grease drop dancing on a hot griddle. I, on the other hand, grew up in eastern Connecticut, where by February the glorious winter wonderland has become the accursed winter wonderland, not to melt away until March.
March 22, 1996 |
Breathe a collective sigh of relief. Snowdrops and crocuses are all around. Daffodil shoots are poking up through rapidly thawing ground. Many-colored primroses are in their glory. Tulips are in the wings, azaleas pacing themselves for a late April burst of color. And vegetable gardeners are standing in friable soil halfway up their boots, turning it for early crops - peas and lettuces, perhaps mustard and parsley. In Philadelphia, winter's officially past. Not so in Harborside, Maine, still in winter's icy grip, and home to Barbara Damrosch and Elliot Coleman, expert gardeners known for their books and the television series Gardening Naturally.
March 22, 1992 |
For a decade, Susie Geyelin has been maintaining and designing gardens, and this time of year is especially busy. As spring arrives, you'll find her dashing from one job to another, clearing away the last debris of winter and planning and planting new beds. The starting date for clearing and planting "will depend on the weather," she says. "If the ground remains frozen, or even very wet, take your time, and restrict your activities to clearing off the last of the leaves and removing what's left of the perennials from last fall.
July 8, 1990 |
For almost 25 years, Dick Lighty has been experimenting with perennials. Traditionally, many American gardeners have viewed perennials as plants suitable for an English-style perennial border, which required the full-time attention of a full-time gardener. Lighty had neither border nor eight hours a day to spend in the garden, but he was determined to incorporate these plants into the garden that he and his wife, Sally, tend in Chester County. These days, as director of the Mount Cuba Center for the Study of Piedmont Flora, Lighty continues his personal crusade to inspire American gardeners to use a group of tough perennials as "landscape perennials" in large groupings, similar to the ways in which we use such traditional ground covers as pachysandra and vinca.
April 15, 1988 |
On the back jacket of Michael Chabon's new and only novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, appear bite-size encomiums (from the likes of authors Carolyn Forche and Susan Fromberg Schaeffer, no less) that liken this coming-of-age tale set on the banks of the Monongahela to The Catcher in the Rye. Not bad for a 24-year-old wordsmith: being compared to J. D. Salinger. Not bad, except that half the blurbs on half the books in that new Contemporary Fiction section of your local bookstore bear the same critical imprimatur.