My first garden was a place no grown-up ever knew about, even though it was in the backyard of a quarter-acre suburban plot. Behind our house in Farmingdale, on Long Island, stood a rough hedge of lilac and forsythia that had been planted to hide the neighbor’s slat wood fence. My garden, which I shared
PREPARING A BED FOR ROSES IS A LITTLE LIKE getting the house ready for the arrival of a difficult old lady, some biddy with aristocratic pretensions and persnickety tastes. The stay is bound to be an ordeal, and you want to give as little cause for complaint as possible. All of a sudden the soil
The harvest moon sometimes ushers in such a frost, always one of nature’s heartbreakers, since typically it is followed by a few weeks of fine growing weather. When the tomatoes have succumbed to a September frost, and hang like black crepe from their cages, those weeks can seem cruel—the tease and rebuke of missed opportunities.
FOR A WHILE NOW, I’VE been thinking about planting a tree—a real tree. It’s not that I haven’t planted trees before, but all of these have been minor ones, lightweights really, the kind of trees you can justify in the short term: white pines to screen the road, dwarf fruit trees, a crab apple or
Ralph Waldo Emerson, who as a gardener really should have known better, once said that a weed is simply a plant whose virtues we haven’t yet discovered. “Weed,” that is, is not a category of nature but a human construct, a defect of our perception. This kind of attitude, which draws on an old American
Anyone new to the experience of owning a lawn, as I am, soon figures out that there is more at stake here than a patch of grass. A lawn immediately establishes a certain relationship with one’s neighbors and, by extension, the larger American landscape. Mowing the lawn, I realized the first time I gazed into
I CAME TO THE COUNTRY from the city and brought along many of the city man’s easy ideas about the landscape and its inhabitants. One had to do with the problem of pests in the garden, about which I carried the usual set of liberal views. To nuke a garden with insecticide, to level a