Blog Action and blooms

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day


Blog Action Day and Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day are two for one subjects for my post today. Read on for Action and click on for bigger images and names of what’s in bloom (I don’t think the subjects are unrelated!)

Nearly 16,000 voices are speaking on blogs all over the world wide interweb today on the subject of the environment. The parameters are pretty broad – we’re asked to publish a post about the environment in any way that relates to our usual topic in order to begin a global conversation. There are so many relevant environmental issues to gardening – where to begin? Where to end?!North Garden 10-15-07

Celosia bigger than my brain in the Cutting Bed I think it might begin and end with stewardship. When I first heard about Blog Action Day, I immediately thought of the couple in Cranston, RI who wrote an inspiring letter last year to Blithewold’s director of horticulture. They are concerned about climate change and took the call to plant trees for carbon sequestration seriously. When they ran out of room in their own garden, they decided to plant (so far, about a dozen) trees at Blithewold because, in their words “Blithewold is guided by a vision of stewardship wherein trees are welcomed, valued, nurtured.” Planting trees at the equator is immensely important but it’s also important, like the bumpersticker says, to think globally and act locally.

Gardeners (like mountain climbers and deep sea divers) are intimately involved with the Earth’s crust and in a unique position to pay attention and take care of our own little patch. We can exploit the Earth or we can leave no trace. We can (pretend to) have dominion over all living things or we can share the caretaking responsibilities with fellow critters like bacteria, worms, bees, spiders…

Coleus canina ‘Sumcol’ - stinky coleus - smells like skunk!

Asclepias physocarpa ‘Oscar’ (hairy balls) in the Cutting Garden


Blithewold is a 33 acre patch of planet Earth with lawns, trees and flowering gardens. Cuphea micropetalaWe cannot call ourselves an organic garden although we try to make careful choices and weigh the visitors’ experience with our personal tolerances of garden chemistry. Thinking globally, it’s come to the point where sacrifices have to be made locally. Gail and I refuse to treat the Rose Garden with pesticides and non-organic fertilizers. As a result of that choice the roses decline from blackspot and beetle infestation and the visitors’ midsummer enjoyment of that garden is diminished. This year we interplanted the roses with shrubs and flowering annuals. The roses didn’t look any better but the garden as a whole did and visitors raved.Jake in the Rose Garden 10-15-07

We know when we’re doing it right. Any garden full of bees, birds, mantises, worms and butterflies is bound to be balanced and healthy. These creatures are the world’s canaries in the coal mine and rather than wait to be alarmed by global colony collapse, gardeners can be (and even have an obligation to be) mindful and preemptively careful.

Chrysanthemum ‘Sheffield’Plectranthus fruiticosaRabdosia longituba

I love paying attention and being in tune with a patch (especially this particular patch) of the planet and participating in the care of it. I think what I do locally does make a difference globally and I pledge to continue my daily education in how to be a better gardener and earth steward. — Who’s with me?!

Clematis ‘Nelly Moser’ blooming againLionotis

10 thoughts on “Blog Action and blooms

  1. I think it’s wonderful that you didn’t spray the roses. Rose gardens always look better anyway when they’re intermixed with other perennials, and you’re right, that disguises imperfect roses.

  2. I’m with you! Great post and what a wonderful job you do at Blithewold!

    Carol at May Dreams Gardens

  3. Kris: As always, a great post and thanks for sharing your stories! Also, lovely pictures. I agree with you, the more we learn the better we will be!

  4. It takes courage not to go the easy route & spray the roses when the garden is open to the public & therefore open to criticism. If my asters look crappy because of powdery mildew, who cares? But when it is your job at issue, that takes guts & determination. You’ve solved the dilemma creatively – way to go!

  5. Thank you, Pam, Carol, Layanee and Mr. McG’s Daughter!

    I have to give all of the credit the Rose Garden renovation and most of the credit for stubbornly sticking to a no-spray regimen to my boss Gail. The Rose Garden was originally a mixed garden so she was able to use that archival argument when she proposed the changes but we are catching a little flack for the colors we chose as well as for almost too effectively hiding the roses! Like any garden it’s a work in progress and we’ll keep shooting for friendly beauty.

  6. Hello Kris,

    I enjoyed this post and your photos a great deal. Many gardeners try to be good stewards, and it all counts somehow… but in your public garden at Blithwold you and Gail have a chance to spread that philosophy to the visitors and are doing it! Rather than caving in when the roses developed disease problem, you reacted by making the garden more interesting – the creative response rather than one directed by others’ expectations. Wonderful to hear!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  7. Annie, Thanks for visiting! One of the best parts of public horticulture is all the positive reinforcement we get and we hope to give back it back in inspiration. And more and more visitors seem interested in “green gardening” these days — the world is changing! (Hurrah!)

  8. Great post, Kris (I’m running behind as usual here.) I think that Blithewold is an excellent example of thinking globally and acting locally. I forgot about the Plant a Billion trees initiative, but I did indeed get the trees I committed to planting, done–plus a few more for good measure. We do what we can, and it’s great that a public garden like Blithewold is such an inspiration to others.

  9. What a wonderful post, Kris. I missed it on Blog Action Day but am catching up now–and I couldn’t agree with you more. We all do what we can with the plot of land to which we are tending at the moment.

    That said, I honestly think that public gardeners like you and Gail have it a little tougher than private gardeners like me. I have already thumbed my nose at my local public sentiment by planting gardens instead of spraying lawns, so anything else I want to try is subject to my (and my boyfriend’s, and maybe the dog’s) approval only. I don’t have to worry about catching flak for my color choices, for example… my hat’s off to you for all that you deal with, and your ability to maintain your focus on stewardship amid all the rest.

  10. Jodi, Kudos to you on planting trees! You inspire others as well! (I’m going to go plant some trees now.)

    Kim, I don’t think you’re as private a gardener as you say – you’ve made it public on your blog! And isn’t it worth it for all the appreciative comments?! Same for us only we get them in person too. The flak is really nothing compared to the pats on the back we get! (and we really only got flak this year for using “too much orange”. It’s that kind of color… And we’ve only heard it from one or two other people who are on the property every day!)

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