Good news

Things are really looking up around here.  I have to say that I still have goosebumps and this weirdly giddy feeling that must be called “hope”.  Rhode Islanders, regardless of a devastatingly stinky economy (did you know that we now have the embarrassing distinction of having the highest unemployment rate in the country?), passed three expensive ballot measures that all look toward what I think must be a brighter future.  (Hope is our state’s motto, by the way and any gardener’s word to live by.)  So don’t let rough roads and bridges keep you from visiting Blithewold – they’ll be fixed and we have even allowed funding for the purchase and protection of open spaces!  And near and dear to my heart, Bristol voters have willingly increased their property taxes to pay for a new animal shelter (all three of my kids used to reside in the current shelter building which is like a festering sore.  Now these two scamps live in my aspidistra.)  It seems to me like a gardener’s mentality has taken hold in the general populace – we gardeners know that we have an active hand in making things grow and thrive and even when we’re at our most cynical, we’re optimistically planning for the future.

Things are looking up here at Blithewold too.  The roofers have arrived with scaffolding and slate and will begin the first phase of a project that will ensure that the house and archives will be protected from rain and snow for another 100 years at least.  The good news for me, selfishly, was the excuse for a panoramic photo op with side order of vertigo.

And there’s so much to look forward to next week when Margaret Roach, famous fellow blogger from A Way to Garden and former editor of Martha Stewart Magazine speaks to us at our annual Garden Design Luncheon.  Again, selfishly, I’m hoping for a photo op and a chance for some heart to heart girl talk about frogs.  It looks like registration for this not-to-be-missed event is filling up so pull up a chair while you still can.  (click here for more info)

Some of what is up must come down:  Nick the Willing shredded the majority of our first fall of leaves yesterday.  The pile pictured is the pathetic looking result of the 2 or so hours of shredding I did earlier in the week.  Nick’s pile is much more impressive and I think we’re well on our way to having enough.  Although, Gail always says “That’s it?  We need MORE!”  And of course she’s right.  Gail and I will use Nick’s leaf pile for mulching all of the Display Garden beds next year and if we’re on the ball, we’ll get some leaves down soon on the paths in the Cutting Garden.  We also spread a leaf and grass mix from the mowers all over Dick’s vegetable bed – he thought it did wonders for the soil last year and was easier to deal with than sowing and tilling winter rye.  In the Rock Garden I spread a thin blanket of pine needles which makes the garden look tucked in for the winter even though we traditionally don’t put that garden “to bed” by cutting things back.  We’ll have to keep an eye on the pH of the soil though since pine needles are especially acidic.

Do you use shredded leaves or pine needles as mulch or do you add your leaves to the compost?  (Don’t tell me you put them out with the trash!  -Some of my neighbors do that and it’s all I can do to not trash pick – I need MORE!  They already think I’m nuts.)

6 thoughts on “Good news

  1. I use them for mulch and put them in the compost pile. I also swipe the bagged leaves from the neighbors yards on trash day.

    Deb, I should get over myself and swipe leaves too — but I worry a little about what else might be in the bag… -kris

  2. I’ve got a bin next to the composters into which all the leaves go. They’ll help make compost next spring and whatever is left settles into leaf mold. As for pine needles, I use them exclusively now as mulch for all my beds, with the exception of the xeric beds, which are mulched with pea gravel. The pine needles mat down into an impressive weed barrier and the cats stay out of the beds since they hate to scratch in it. Plus, the needles break down slowly and help acidify the very alkaline soil we have here. In fact, I volunteer to go rake up the needles that fall on the city hall lawn in February, bag them up, and take them home. Most people think I’m a bit crazy to do this; I just tell them I’m serving my penal sentence and they are seemingly satisfied. After all, I’ve got my “crazy garden lady” credo to uphold.

    Susan, I didn’t know that about cats not liking pine needles – great tip! And that’s too funny about serving your sentence. I used to work for a gardener who did the same thing only we raked up pine needles from a parking lot on hoity-toit Bellevue Ave. in Newport. We pretended we were “the help”. -kris

  3. A few years ago I had the pleasure of visiting Antique Rose Emporium in Texas. At the entry to the garden is a large sign placed over a bench. It reads: “Where there is a garden, there is hope.

    Welcome, C.L.! (I feel like we have met before somewhere in actual person – any recollection?) And I love the message on that sign – I think it must be an especially true statement in regards to roses. -kris

  4. Kris, I’m looking forward to the design luncheon also and will bring the camera! The leaves are everywhere here but still wet and sticky from the rain this past week. I think they will be carted to the compost, or one of the compost piles. If I lived in suburbia, I would definitely shred them and leave them in the garden or bin.

    Layanee, I’m so glad you’re coming to the luncheon! Is it windy up there this morning? I bet I’ll be given another load of dry leaves to shred today… but brrrrr! -kris

  5. Ha! We just spent all of Saturday afternoon raking and shredding the leaves that all fell off the night before. Previous to that, we “borrowed” a huge pile of our neighbor’s Maple leaves and shredded those. Now the yard looks great and all the beds are warmly covered. We could still use more…

    Lynn – More?? Good job – you must be exhausted! I always feel like I have linebacker shoulders after a day of raking/shredding. I only looked at the leaves on my “lawn” (a.k.a. clover patch and cheat grass) this weekend… -kris

  6. I was so grateful for your personal tour today, and for our conversation. Please do email and let’s continue the thread…lots of ideas to swap.

    Margaret, Thank you! It was such a pleasure to meet you and it was a big treat for me to get to show Blithewold off to you. Your talk was wonderful (everyone said so!) and I will be in touch for sure. -kris

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