Saturday, March 14, 2009


Do it now. Mark your calendars. Make a note for early January, 2010, reminding yourself to get information on the York county Master Gardeners GardenWise program. Because you need to attend next year. And you’ll need to register early.

GardenWise is an educational program which focused on forward thinking topics including backyard stewardship to decorative vegetable gardening.

Speakers really knew their stuff. The talented group of Master Gardeners were able to bring in and share with local gardeners noted Audubon Ornithologist Stephen W. Kress, PSU Forestry professor and leader of Pennsylvania’s Forest Stewardship outreach program Jim Finley, and soil scientist Dr. John Dighton who heads Rutgers Pinelands Field Station. All the presenters were knowledgable and engaging.

More than 200 gardeners filled York Suburban High School on this mild Saturday in March. The halls were lively with informational displays and chattering people sharing their ideas.

One point Jim Finley made also described what I witnessed at the event. Finley spoke of the need for developing a community of people to take stewardship of our land seriously and the need to develop linkages in our wooded areas to benefit wildlife. I certainly saw a community of gardeners forming new links at GardenWise.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Seeing Spring

Seeing Spring, by T.W. Burger

It is time.


Easter eggs and candy festoon bare dogwoods in the suburbs.

The days suddenly seem almost long enough. The road home is not so often a drive through a tunnel of darkness.

Soon, people on the streets will forego their bulky winter wear, start looking like humans instead of so much dirty pastry.

It is a time to forget to take home the jacket you wore to work in the chill morning because the afternoon is so warm.

This weekend churches will bloom with children decked out in new outfits, the little girls budding out in flouncy dresses in a bouquet, a riot of colors.

Along the drive through the woods to the house, under the winter brown riot of honeysuckle and tear-thumb vine, regiments of daffodil leaves muster for the first assault of the new season. Soon, the dark ground will crumble and heave out new growth of every sort, from early flowers to the first clacking, leggy hordes of bugs that make a gardener’s life so full and varied.

It won’t be long before wood and thicket rustle with the annual commotion of new birds and baby rabbits, a fact the barn cats already seem to anticipate. They seem more watchful of late.

In the muddy pond bottoms, perhaps, turtles and frogs begin to stir, their winter slumber ending. One wonders, maybe, what would that be like, what would one dream in the oozy dark while winter locked the pond overhead under a cracking, singing roof of ice?

It is time to start scanning the wintry gray flanks of South Mountain, looking for that first fog of green, for the first startling lavender of the redbuds. Before you know it, a green cloud of leaves will hide the stony bones of the ridges, the outlines of the hills, and the fat, high houses of rich show-offs cluttering the ancient hills with matchstick arrogance.

Fishermen will finger eagerly through their tackle boxes, dreaming perhaps that this year the cold lightning trout will not be so fast or so wary. Or, perhaps, they dream ahead even further, to the lunker bass lurking in the lakes and ponds of summer.

Along the creek, I keep watch for the scattering of blue herons who make life for the frogs and fish interesting, if shorter. Maybe, with luck, ospreys will again hang out in the dead oaks across the water from the house.

I am giving my editors fair warning. There will be afternoons when it will be necessary for me to take my laptop out to one of the local parks, because whatever story I am writing will somehow need the touch of sun on shoulder, and the sight of children teeming around playground equipment like so many brightly colored birds on a trellis. There is no help for it. It’s not my fault. It is the season, you see.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Ideas for Edible Landscapes

Returning home by train from the Philadelphia Flower show last week, I carried a worm composting bin and lots of ideas about using edibles in the landscape. I’m really pleased that I found both.

No less than ten exhibitors incorporated edible plants into their design. Many more used herbs.

I asked my friend who went with me, if she’d had any ‘ah ha!’ moments at the show. We talked about it for a while and both decided that we had seen displays that strengthened preferences we already held, but we both thought ‘ah ha!’ moments didn’t really happen for us.

I realize now, that’s not true. I did have an ‘ah ha!.’

I have many pots in lots of different sizes. I really didn’t want to fill my pots with annuals. And I wasn’t sure I could fill them all with perennials.

My downstairs dressing area bathroom, which used to house nice high heels and office attire, is currently being revamped into some form of seed starting greenhouse. I have way too many seedlings sprouting. My ‘ah ha!’ happened in kind of a ‘duh” fashion. I realized I could use many of those veggie plants in my containers this year.

I’m jazzed about playing with snap peas on a trellis, beet greens and lettuces, and carrots and possibly even corn in my containers. Mixed in with some sweet pea, I think. I will keep you posted.