Two Houses: Dioecious Plants, part 6

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Imagine having a garden composed of only female plants. It could be considered a goddess garden. Think how subtle that would be. I wonder how long it would take for visitors to discover the organizing principle. It might be the solution for persons with pollen allergies or provide cuts for their house.

I could have included Ash, Willows, Poplars, and many others but making a list or creating a catalog isn’t the point. By asking a simple question “Why?” and pursuing it, an unnoticed world opened up. It was always around me, waiting to be revealed. One last story.

The picture of cycads from earlier doesn’t match the words in the paragraph. The plants are well-grown but they certainly don’t “dominate” the bed, let alone the room. On one of my visits I discovered that the wonderful old plants I wrote about were gone. I was heart-sickened and very depressed about it. Yes, they had outgrown their area, becoming too tall and touching the ceiling. But still, to treat them as trash and throwing them out felt wrong. My visit was ruined; the joy I always felt was gone.

The facility has undergone several expansions over the years. I always think of these as the “new” areas because their more modern architecture doesn’t mesh seamlessly with Morgan’s original design. I routinely visit several areas throughout the building and a surprise was waiting for me in one of the new wings. The old cycads hadn’t been discarded but had been moved to a temporary bed while a permanent one was prepared. The people in charge valued what was around them; they weren’t just taking care of a place. They are stewards, honoring the past, living in the present, and planning a positive future. My wish is many more years for the cycads and all of us.

About the Author

I started in 1977 growing plants at wholesale nurseries and a wholesale seed company in California. In 1992 I started volunteering (in the nursery, of course!) at Strybing Arboretum in San Francisco where I met my wife. My wife is originally from upstate and we moved here in 2002. It took at least two years of living here for me to fully understand our property and to take advantage and work with our microclimate. Although growing zone maps show us to be in 5, we are realistically a 4b. I am inordinately proud, in a smarmy kind of way, of how many of the plants we brought with us have thrived. Coming from a zone 9 has been quite an adjustment for all of us. But we are thriving and enjoy the beauty and what the land gives us everyday. USDA Hardiness Zone: 4b/5a Location: rural; Central Leatherstocking near Cooperstown, New York Geographic type: riverine valley Soil type: Chenango alluvial – shallow clay and highly stony Experience level: 28 years professionally wholesale and retail, no longer in the business Particular interests: native plants and ecosystems, flowering and berry producing shrubs, home-grown foods, maples, birches, willows, ornamental grasses, filipendulas, iris, ligularias, persicarias, asclepias, artemisia, asters, arisaemas, hardy geraniums, euphorbias, eupatoriums, origanums, lysimachias, eryngiums, lilies, and visiting nurseries

In the end, this may be the most important thing about frost: Frost slows us down. In spring, it tempers our eagerness. In fall, it brings closure and rest. In our gotta-go world–where every nanosecond seems to count–slowness can be a great gift. So rather than see Jack Frost as an adversary, you could choose to greet him as a friend.

~Philip Harnden in A Gardener’s Guide to Frost: Outwit the Weather and Extend the Spring and Fall Seasons

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Kallie January 12, 2012, 10:27 pm

What a great idea! I really love the Goddess statue. I have a few statues in my yard, as they really make any garden more personal. I love the idea of using really soft colors in the garden, especially whites.