Environmental odds and ends


Last summer, sweet joe pye weed (Eupatorium purpureum), usually 4 feet tall and eaten by deer, was 8 feet tall and unusually abundant.

It’s very cold outside, and the ground is covered with a foot of frozen snow. I’ve had to postpone many client appointments and put off finishing my own pruning because I can’t get to the plants. Bummer. But last year’s unusually cold winter ushered in the most beautiful gardening season I can remember, so I anticipate the same this year: many plants should be more vigorous and more abundant than usual. My theory is that the cold weather kills off pests and keeps the rabbit and deer population down. I anticipate a glorious gardening season.

And if you think we’re having a hard winter, give some thought to what the folks in New England are going through. Which makes me think of Garden in the Woods in Framingham, Mass., the gorgeous native plant garden of the New England Wild Flower Society. NEWFS is a long-established research and educational organization, well worth joining even for those of us who live outside of New England. Check out their simple key to plant identification and their plant list for 2015.

PBS is running an interesting series, Earth: A New Wild. It’s about a new understanding of the relationship between humans and the environment, focusing on new projects and ideas for repairing specific environmental problems, like returning oysters to New York harbor. Actually, it’s a bit unfocused: some episodes are more about new ways of looking at the environment. The “Forests” segment was particularly interesting, especially a sequence about the recycling of nutrients between the forest and the ocean. Turns out that everything is even more interconnected than we think. The show airs on Wednesdays at 10:00, but you can see previous episodes on line.

Finally, we’ll all be reading and hearing a lot about the federal government’s recommendations for new dietary guidelines (less sugar, never mind about cholesterol). In recommending that people eat more vegetables and less meat, the panel kept sustainability in mind: producing meat uses up more resources and is thus much less environmentally friendly than producing plant food. According to the recommendations,

Linking health, dietary guidance, and the environment will promote human health . . .

Amen to that!

Stay warm, order your vegetable seeds, sign up for a CSA for the coming season, and think about this year’s garden.


Another effect of a hard winter: in last summer’s garden, several cultivars of garden phlox (Phlox paniculata) that hadn’t bloomed for years reappeared. I’m looking forward to moving them to a more prominent spot this spring.


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