Round Robin: Wondrous Returns

| June/July 1994

LANSING, New York—Strolling through the garden in this glorious summer weather, gazing appreciatively at the foaming masses of color and texture produced by the interplanting of herbs, perennials, annuals, and shrubs, I have that wonderful feeling of what-hath-God-wrought that comes over me every year when this piece of earth, which seemed a dreary waste a month or so ago, turns into a small paradise. Every year, in March and April, I wonder if it can happen again.

I was especially curious this spring because the past winter included not only more prolonged periods of severe cold than we’ve ever experienced, but also more snow. We gardeners often complain about not having enough snow cover, but when we get it, we complain for other reasons. What happened here was that armies of rabbits, unable to find much to eat and foiled by the fences I’d rigged up around my young trees and azaleas, decided that Korean lilacs, spireas, and even rhododendrons would do in a pinch. They mowed to the ground a great burgeoning southernwood bush that sits under a New Dawn rose and dealt with my new dwarf spireas so brutally that shrubs I had expected to double in size this summer are having to start again from scratch. I was glad that they didn’t devour the lavender hedge. I’ve always felt uneasy about lavender since reading in Beatrix Potter’s tales that Peter Rabbit’s mother called lavender “rabbit tobacco”. Apparently my rabbits neither smoke nor chew, for which I’m grateful.

Actually, the lavender hedge is not a complete success. I planted it in an east-west row that heads toward a maple tree, and though the end of the row is at least 12 feet from the trunk, the lavender bushes dwindle at that end while they rise to stout specimens at the other end; they look as though they’re going uphill. A pity I didn’t think of this eventuality before I planted. I’ve never fertilized lavender before, but I worked in an organic product around the scrawniest bushes and am hoping the hedge will even up in time. It should, unless the feeble lavenders grow too fat and weak on their new diet and die of the cold next winter.

I seem always to be talking about my pets, the sages. I try to resist, but this urge is stronger than I am. I must sing the praises of Salvia officinalis ‘Berg­garten’, whose low, compact shape and handsome gray, grainy, very large egg-shaped leaves make it a stunner. If you love color, try S. nemorosa ‘Blauhügel’ (‘Blue Hill’), one of the best cultivars yet of this fine garden plant. It makes a tight, neat plant only 12 to 15 inches high, its flower spikes come closer to being a true blue than any other of its species, and it blooms indefatigably from late spring to fall if you cut back the spent spikes midseason. If you don’t have these in your garden yet, put them on your list for this summer or next.



September 12-13, 2019
Seven Springs, Pennsylvania

Fermentation Frenzy! is produced by Fermentation magazine in conjunction with the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR. This one-and-a-half day event is jam-packed with fun and informative hands-on sessions.


Subscribe today and save 58%

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living !

Mother Earth LivingWelcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $19.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $24.95.

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds

click me