Friday, October 22, 2010

The F-Word

That word, a phenomenon so horrendous we gardeners dare not speak its name.

Yes, the F-word.

No, not that one. The other one.


Frost is in the northern Delaware forecast this evening. But part of me is not convinced. This has happened previously (of course), though not yet this season: a condemning forecast, yet city gardens remain protected (often until rather late in the season) while surrounding gardens, properties, lawns, and suburbs sparkle a brilliant white.

This day, though, seems different. The Hunters Moon, which woke me in the wee hours of the morning, its luminescence peering through thick velvet curtains, seems a chilling caricature of itself. Daytime highs will reach only into the mid 50s, and nighttime lows will plunge into the mid 30s. Frost just feels a possibility

My professional life will occupy me today, leaving very little time when I return to make equally chilling decisions: which lives to save, which lives to allow to pass quietly into the night…
I don’t like these kinds of decisions; I don’t know of any gardeners who do. Yet most gardeners I know also have cultivated a particular kind of resilience, a nonchalance, towards such death. Next year will bring another gardening season and more plants; thus you save those you prefer. Yet I freeze (pun intended?) in the face of my divine like power.

Preferences: contingent on individual taste, and taste is stymieing my decisions. I happen to love my deep yellow lantana which I overwintered last year and which rewarded me this season with spectacular plenitude of foliage and flower. I love the ruby red flowers of my Pineapple Sage, a gift from my friends, the inimitable mother-daughter duo, Jane and Jenn. My patchouli and lemon grass—not exactly Zone 7 plants—have flourished. And what do I do with what I assume to be my Omure yama Matsumurae Japanese maple (under which Simone sits), the pendulous branches of which extend far beyond the pot and occupy significant space? I haven’t room in the house for all of those plants (most of which have become quite large).
This is why I need and want an all-season sunroom.

Until we add this dream to 410 or buy another house with one or space to add one, though, I need to make difficult life or death decisions, and act the Leviathan to my garden.


So, this afternoon in the waning hours of daylight, neighbors shall witness a harried MSW racing to and fro, condemning some plants to death, granting reprieve to others. As I mused in a previous entry, gardening is such morally trying work.
And if the frost comes, the neighborhood will be sure to hear me utter that other F-word, the F-word that Rahm Emmanuel made infamously famous. 

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