Saturday, November 13, 2010

Zone Denial - Being 60 (week 28 - by Margaret Ullrich)

We've had a remarkably nice stretch of Autumn weather.  
No excuses. 
I had plenty of time to do my garden chores.
My garden has never looked neater, if I do say so myself.

Time to start planning next year's garden.

I used to enjoy watching Cassandra Danz on television.  She had a syndicated show Mrs. Greenthumbs that was nice and simple.  Her book, with the same name (available at the library) is also nice and simple.  Martha Stewart she ain't.  

I also like to visit the flower gardens in Assiniboine Park and to browse in gardening shops.  I love flowers, even though to my Pop they were a waste of space.  To Pop a garden meant food.
Paul and I dropped by Shelmerdine a few days ago.  There Christmas is going full blast.  It sure has grown from the simple garden shop we first visited in the 70s.  If you get the chance drop in there, if for nothing else than to see the humungous Angel on the tree.  They even have a coffee shop.

I trust Shelmardine more in the Fall than in the Spring.

I don't know what happens to Winnipeggers during the winter.  Maybe it's the cold.  Maybe it's being stuck indoors.  Something makes us suckers for "Zone Denial" plants.

If you're not a Winnipegger, let me explain.  Winnipeg has a short growing season with long sunny days and a bitterly cold winter.  If you garden, you know us as Zone 3.

Winnipeggers should stick to tough-as-nails plants.  

But, for some reason, when Spring returns, we buy plants as if we were living on the bayou.  

Garden shop owners - even the good folks at Shelmerdine - lay out babied, imported plants that would be right at home on the Gulf of Mexico.  They also put up signs saying "Not Zone 3 Hardy" and suggest that the plant be brought indoors before the first sign of frost.

Why, sure.  I'd love to have a magnolia tree in my living room. 

My Pop practiced a bit of "Zone Denial".  He missed fig trees, which he'd had in Malta.  Somehow or other he got a couple of fig trees and planted them in his garden in New York.  Every Fall he had to cut them down and wrap the stumps in yards of fabric.  Then he'd cover them with tons of leaves which he'd wall in with a few boxes.  Somehow it worked.  Each year he enjoyed fresh figs.    

Mrs. Greenthumbs, a practical gal, would not have approved.  She often quoted Francis Bacon, Nature to be commanded, must be obeyed, and stuck to what belonged, zone-wise, in her garden in upstate New York.

She's an expert so she knows what she's doing.

Yeah, right.

She has another favorite quote regarding gardening:
Nature always has the last laugh.

To be honest, she's had her share of plants that, even though they belonged in upstate New York and should have been as happy as a pig in mud, shrivelled up and died. 

Gardening is a gamble.
If a magnolia - or fig - tree is just what you need in your garden, go for it.
Life's too short to follow all the rules. 

Especially in your garden.

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