Detail of nasturtiums
For quite sometime I have done what I like to do in the garden – nothing! People who look at my garden always wonder the hours and hours that I put in taking care of it all. Yes, there is no doubt that I put a lot of time into creating and guiding the process at the beginning of each year more or less, but then, I recede into the background and take it all in. After the first flush or roses my biggest job is deadheading thousands of hips (a task I never manage to complete) to get more blooms throughout the rest of the season. I don’t need the garden to be perfect and I want it to look as natural as possible. To achieve this you have to step back and let “nature take its course”. It is hard for people to do this and sometimes feel creative. Fortunately, I have always had a lot on my plate besides gardening so that was easy.
Partially eaten and very fragrant hosta plantaginea
This summer season allowing for my unemployed state I have managed to do a lot more than usual around the house and the garden, with a little traveling thrown in for good measure and my house guest episode! This year, I have also had this blog which has nurtured me as much as I hope it has informed some of you. It is hard to come up with a topic each week but so far they have fallen into place by themselves based on garden and life experiences. I have tried to start some storylines about other places that I want to return to in the future.
Japanese Anemones. I thought I had white only pinks survived!
It is hard writing about yourself and not seeming narcissistic. This, as I said before, is a bit of an act of voyeurism and journal combined. For the longest time I have been interested in knowing something about the readers to the blog. The only way you get that is from comments or emails to the site, but reading other blogs I knew of writers who had placed a counting device that gave them information about their visitors. Realistically, many writers use it as a way of branding their sites and eventually monetize them. I had wanted to find out who was out there so I put in a Sitemeter on the blog to get a sense of traffic that frequented the site. For months, it never registered any visitors when in fact I knew many people had visited the site. I finally, took the time to question their support department who said that I had done “something wrong” or when I changed the page format however minor “something had gone wrong”. To my surprise, a quick fix opened up a world of general information on who is reading the blog or at least who stumbled on to it. It does not give you anything specific about the visitors just general area where they are located and which of the stories have been read the most. The numbers of visitors has been steadily growing. What surprises me is that it is as widely read in the US as it is Europe. Besides these two places, there also appear to be people in the South America,Middle East, India, and South East Asia and even New Zealand who have taken a peek. The power of computers, our modern technology and the written word are amazing!
Marvelous recent hybrid Agapanthus 'Ellie Mae'
My back is still out of commission so I have read further volumes; amongst the many, I just finished My Life in France. This is Julia’s Child account of the period that created the person we know and remember. This book is a tie in to the Julie and Julia film (also based on the Blog and book by Julie Powell called the Julie/Julia Project) out in theaters now. The film marries two lives and two books into one film: Julie, a blogger and Julia the famous cook. The film is marvelous but did not give me enough of the Child life. My friend Elena gave me her book to finish while I recover as I have more time to read. I wondered if some of the scenes in the film were invented to make Julia more human, like the sexual innuendo between the hard cannelloni pasta and the male member so out of character but fun to watch! It is funny that we need to invent on lives that were already magical. I have read both books and recommend them. They are both great reading, if from very different points of view.
I laugh at how accustomed we have become to our modern lives with phones, email and now twitter! It took Julia well over ten years to write, rewrite, re-rewrite, coordinate, correspond with multiple publishers, and impress numerous people for her cooking opus: Mastering the Art of French Cooking. A testament to Carbon paper and Royal typewriters! If her celebrity was not de facto, it was sealed when she agreed to test three TV episodes for WGBH Boston produced by 28 years-old Russell Morash (also of Victory Garden and This Old House). By the way, for those of you who saw the movie, Julia did get her diploma from Cordon Blueu in Paris, she passed the second time she took her test.
PS. Every now and then I get a question about gardens that is written as a comment. If you want a personal answer it might help to send me an email. Click on the envelope icon at the end of the blog and you will send an email to me at the blog that I can answer you personally. This time, I will answer here for everyone on a question about Hollyhocks and why they might not thrive from one year to the next.
Hollyhocks are prone to many diseases: Hollyhock Rust, Nematodes, Powdery Mildew, and Oedema (rupture of capillaries from too much water). The first three I know well and the fourth one I just found out. When plants establish themselves after the first year they almost always develop something. Usually you take the seeds and create a new patch of them in a different spot to avoid the nematodes that usually find them and eat their roots. The rust and mildew are fungi that almost always find, infect, stunt and eventually destroy them. Oedema apparently affects them as well as can burst the internal piping that nourishes the plant if they are watered or rains too much. To grow them you must be willing to collect the seeds and replant in different spots each year always keeping in mind to keep them well ventilated and on the dry side. They grow best in hot dry climates. This is why I was so impressed with the batch that I found upstate NY. Good luck with yours!