Sunday, August 31, 2008


I've not much time, Labor Day weekend's eating it up, for a long post. However, I would very much appreciate it if you shared some of your time to comment/rant/nag/bleat/editorialize/voice/whine or just plain write a short (or long) response to the following article (don't worry, it's a very short piece): Introducing the Twiller By Matt Richtel

And please, post your comment here, not there (but you already knew to do that didn't you?). Keep in mind that I'll be interested in your critical view of how this type of writing might affect education; both secondary and post secondary.

I'll respond with my 3 cents after I get some input. And thanks, y'all are sweet.

This is one of my favorite summertime flowers. Do you know what it is?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

"Meta" something or other

I wonder if other writers think much about writing about writing? Since I'm a writer, I do it almost daily. I think about how I'll write whatever it is I'll be writing about before I begin writing. This is more of a mental process for me rather than the actual physical act of putting into words words about writing. Confusing? Perhaps. There's other types of "meta" things: metathinking is thinking about your own thoughts - hmmm, I wonder what I'm wondering about?

Wikipedia defines the prefix "meta" (in the epistemological sense): "the prefix meta- is used to mean about (its own category)." An apt enough definition I suppose, although most in academia frown on Wikipedia as a reliable source of information. What interests me more than the definition is the philosophical aspects of what "meta" might imply.

When I write about gardening in my weekly column for Grove City's Allied News, I am actually gardening in my mind. That is, I picture myself in the physical act of performing whatever gardening chore or action I'm describing in words. Might this be considered metagardening? If this is so, you could prefix any word or action you choose with "meta" and make it become something in and of itself.

At this point you might be wondering why The Write Gardener (I just metaed myself) would write about such a thing as "meta" this or "meta" that. I have no answer for you, and you don't really need one. Just give it some metathought the next time you're in your garden.

My waning garden viewed from the second floor.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A new old job

Shortly after I was discharged from the Navy, a friend of mine helped me acquire a job at a department store in South Carolina, in the sporting goods department. I sold everything from .99 cent fishing hooks to regulation size (9-foot) pool tables ($900.00 each), and everything, sports related, in between. I liked working retail and for every two or three rude and obnoxious customers, there was 10 or 15 pleasant ones.

They (whoever "they" are) say history repeats itself and on more than one occasion I've discovered this to be true in my life.

I began a part time job today. In retail sales. 30 years ago I worked in sporting goods, today you could say I work in "aluminum, bronze, pewter and sterling silver." I've not been at Wendell August long enough to know if they have rude and obnoxious customers. My guess is those kinds of folks are still around. And so are the pleasant ones I'm sure.

Garden Update

We've enjoyed a mess of 'Kentucky Wonder' pole beans, miraculously. It seems no matter how bad the Japanese beetles skeletonize these beans, the plants are most always vigorous enough to survive the onslaught and make.

Our heirloom tomatoes always do well and we've been harvesting them for a couple weeks now. And we're having an exceptional harvest of hybrid 'Sun Gold' cherry tomatoes, perhaps the sweetest of all cherry tomatoes I've ever eaten.

I dug one row of Kennebec potatoes a while back, and have one more row of Red Pontiacs to dig. I've heard folks say "Potatoes are so cheap I just buy them instead, besides, they're a lot of work because you have to dig them." I reckon that's a legitimate point. But doesn't taste matter?

The perennial flowers are on the decline. We planted a few extra lily bulbs late that are now blooming, and a few annuals are keeping some color. But the one color I've noticed above the others, and I mean literally above - there's a red-orange tint to the leaves on some sugar maples.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Where are you going?

Isn't it odd how certain aromas can take you places? A window fan is blowing a faint aroma of smoke in my room and I'm immediately transported to a holler (Yankees pronounce it "hollow") down in Kentucky. Around the campfire is three brothers, two with guitars, one with spoons, and several other friends and family members. All more or less intoxicated with their drink or smoke of choice.

We're roughing it, there's no electricity or other modern convenience. This is how Spyder Rydge camp outs always were; we'd pack and load the bare necessities, find or make a road and take it to some holler or ridge in the middle of Nowhere, Kentucky. We played music till the wee hours of the morning, then crash for an hour or two. I remember being the first one up most of the time, after my older brother woke, he'd mix a big jar of hair of the dog, then we'd eat a bite, and start all over.

The same thing happens when I hear a certain song. Michelle Shocked's "L&N" takes me back 25 years, to a garage in Louisville, where there's barely room to stand, but plenty of room to jam.

The aging process isn't a process, it's transformation in reverse. From knowing, to not knowing. From doing to not doing. From young to old, to young again in memories. And you go it alone. Kinda makes me sad, and afraid.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


They happen to all of us all the time. Some good, some bad; changes are just part of life moving forward.

Things get busier for me next week as I start a new part time job and also begin substitute teaching. It's been said substitutes are just babysitters, there is some truth to this I suppose, but aren't all teachers, parents, aunts, uncles, grandmother/fathers, etc., babysitters as well? Even those of you with no kids babysit your or someone else's pet(s). Tina, over In The Garden, talks about pets and garden bloggers and says, "Pets just seem to be a natural part of gardens." She's right about that. I have a big tabby who likes to warm himself on a big rock in my garden.

Next week, and probably weeks following, I expect to be a little strapped for time and I'm pretty sure blog updating will suffer. However, I promise to do my best with what spare time I do have to visit y'all from time to time. And I hope to have a few minutes to dedicate to a new post here at least once or hopefully, twice a week.

I said I was going to start mentioning a few things music related here as well. I'll start with this picture, taken in my brother's garage the morning after a St. Patrick's Day Jam. I bet music holds as much importance for some gardeners as their pets. At least it does for me. I "hear" music in the garden, as I'm sure y'all do too.

Give it some thought the next time you're relaxing in the garden, listen and let me know what music you hear. I bet I get a huge selection of new songs to consider for my garden as well as for my iPod. If you need further help with something to listen for, click here and let NPR help.

Flower Music


Monday, August 18, 2008

Weekend Break

I think a lot, if not most, bloggers pause from writing on weekends. I do, but not because Saturday and Sunday is any different than Wednesday or Monday (I commented on this last Friday). Lots of summer activities are scheduled for weekends, just so those of you who are off then can get a chance to get out and enjoy whatever it is you happen to enjoy. My wife and I love gardening, and summer is mainly for that activity. We might complain about being a taxi service for teens when we'd rather visit a botanical garden, or work in our own, but we know they'll leave the nest soon enough (much too soon to our liking) so we run them here and there.

Yesterday, she and I took a short trip south to Pittsburgh for a tomato and garlic festival at Phipps Conservatory. To get in, all you needed to do was bring along a sack or two of fresh produce from your garden. So we gathered a quart of cherry tomatoes and six gigantic heirlooms and took them in.

We were a little disappointed not to see a prominent display of heirlooms or garlic laid out anywhere, but local chef Chris Noonan appeased us with a demonstration and a taste of his delicious "Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho." I'm not into ethnic foods, I suppose it might have a little to do with being a southerner, but Mr. Noonan whipped up a fine batch of tomato juice/soup that would please anyone's palate no matter what part of the country you're from.

And of course there's the gorgeous display of flowers and plants at every turn. I've yet to purchase a polarized filter for my camera and yesterday's sunshine was exceptionally bright, so please overlook the whiteout in some parts of the photographs. Some time back Phipps had Dale Chihuly create glass sculptures for a display that ran through the winter. I never got around to seeing it, but thankfully, Mr. Chihuly donated some pieces that are on display now.

The man's a genius in my opinion, but then I'm a lover of such things as can't be described. And how can you describe Chihuly's work? (Forgive my subjectivity.)

This last photo came out pretty good, you can see the Pitt Tower in the background, the low growing plants are coleus Solenostenom scutellarioides 'The Flume,' and I'm pretty sure the gorgeous dark purple, larger plants are some variety of Colocasia esculenta, perhaps 'Black Magic.'

If you live near a botanical garden, arboretum, or conservatory, plan on visiting soon and don't wait for the weekend if you can help it.

I've been meaning to say that I'm a huge fan of music, practically all genres except country (bluegrass IS NOT country). I get NPR's "All Songs Considered" newsletter, today's included the "Top 10 '80s Pop Songs." It brought back a lot of memories, good and bad. Starting now, I'll try to include something relating to music with each post. Who knows, you may even catch one of my performances here.

Friday, August 15, 2008


For the unemployed, weekends are no different than the rest of the week, it's a little more crowded, and noisier, but other than that, Saturday is about the same as Tuesday, Sunday could be Thursday, and so on. I've gotten used to it, grown complacent I guess. I start a part time job August 25, and substitute teaching will soon begin, so complacency will not be as prevalent as it is now.

It's also time to start thinking about planting a few spring flowering bulbs.

I should've ordered by now, damn complacency!

I love silhouetted photographs. This is Miscanthus sinensis 'Malepartus' at sunset.

If you're looking for the perfect blue hydrangea, I highly recommend Hydrangea macrophylla 'Nikko Blue.' It's on its way from blue to pink now, but it rarely gets bothered by pests, disease, and more importantly here, deer.

It seems I can't pass a bee or bug without taking its picture. This bumblebee was resting on a dahlia bloom and I couldn't resist a gentle touch. It never moved.

I wish everyone a perfect weekend, or Tuesday, or Thursday.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Olympic Gardening

Don't be alarmed, the title of this entry has nothing to do with gold, silver, or even bronze medal winners in gardening. I just named it that to get your attention. And now that I have your attention, on with what I have to say...

Four season gardeners recognize the shifting from one to the next and I am beginning to get a whiff of autumn. There's a scent in the air, chilly, crisp, and undefinable, that tells me I'll soon be wearing long sleeved shirts and jeans again, and hard soled shoes instead of rubbery flip flops. Some would have autumn stay year round, and I suppose that's okay for them, but not for me.

There are those who would prefer summer 365 days a year. Hazy, hot and humid weather make for great tomato and pepper growing. I'll not mention global warming.

What about those who might enjoy snowy cold white nights under a full moon? We have an affinity for gift giving in December, wouldn't it be nice if that feeling would last year round?

I'm sure some would like spring to stay around all the time. Imagine not ever having to worry about replacing dead or dying plants.

Personally, I like the year just as it is, with four seasons, each more or less of equal length. I may complain about the winter blues, or whine about not enough rain in spring, and I probably gripe about leaf litter in autumn and stinging insects in summer, but at least there's variety.

It was cloudy today, and that's usually a good time to take a few pictures. A good thing about pictures: They always show the same season.

It's been a good season for Japanese beetles. They have no shame, they'll do it anywhere, in front of anyone. And I think they're really ugly.

Some bugs are quite attractive.

This is amaranthus, a drooping flower example that reminds me of a reggae hairstyle.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Bacon Lettuce and Tomato

As summer simmers and cools, I'm beginning to feel the first inklings of seasonal affective disorder. I've not been medically diagnosed, and Lord knows I don't aim to make light of SAD, I only know that I've been battling its perennial funk since 1988, the year I moved away from Kentucky.

I suspect gardeners in Zones south of here aren't seasonally affected mentally during January, February, and March as much as those of us here in the northeast. Or perhaps I feel this way because I've never completely assimilated? I still have my south-central Kentucky accent, and I still miss the aroma of burley tobacco curing in an old barn even after 20 years of living with Yankees.

Maybe the aging process has something to do with how I'm feeling. It probably does. But thankfully, I still love the taste of a BLT sandwich and if I had more room, I'd grow hogs here too.

Saturday, August 9, 2008


I met an author the other evening and she got me to thinking about my craft, or rather, our craft: writing. She writes fiction, a genre she calls "literary romance," and I write what's known as creative non-fiction. I never considered writing fiction, actually I never consider writing anything much more than my weekly gardening column. But after five years, that's starting to get a little old and I've been thinking that maybe I should try writing about something other than gardening.

After meeting LK Hunsaker, and reading an excerpt from her novel, I'm curious to know if my muse might allow me a chance to be fictitious.

I'm concerned about something though, there's other words lying around down there that are starting to bubble to the surface. I think they want to be heard, and they're not fiction...and they really scare me.