Saturday, February 28, 2015

Our Bubble

It's cold, people been saying it, making hay about it, FB feeds are full of it, especially the city New Yorkers. The native Minnesotan doesn't make too much of the cold, but I'm willing to point out that, here, it's cold all the time, so much so that when it is over 15 degrees F, we say it's warming. A few days ago, at a restaurant, the server said it was freezing out, and I laughed because, you know, it was 33 degrees below  freezing. Freezing (32 degrees F) is warm, here. To put our coldness problem another way (cue the northern gardener eye roll), the frost free date is solidly mid-late May. That's right, May 15 or 22.  

So how wonderful that I should discover a conservatory in our neighboring city, St. Paul, open to all citizens for free, or donation. It is not grand by world-class glasshouse standards, nor festooned with cutting edge design, but it is warm and humid. Wow. Such a simple pleasure. The indulgence was smile inducing. 

A stream with moss-covered stone and fern.

And palms.

Some tropical flowers.

Then, an extremely formal garden wing with standard forced bulbs and yet, amazing. 

The light, the humidity, the warmth just what we need.

It reminds us that spring, too, happens here by conjuring its sensation.

That artifice is in our nature.

And it thrills us.

At a cost.

But do not dwell on that.

Enjoy the glass bubble.

The fish tank.

And the overpopulating Koi.

Brightly colored birds.

And Orchids.

And be out the door by four.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

What's Old Is New

One of my present tasks is to attend to thousands of well-kept magazines that my father-in-law left behind: National Geographic from 1918 onward, Life from the beginning to the end, Scientific American from the 1950s onward, Sky and Telescope from then to now, and so on and on. Among these larger lots are a handful of Organic Gardening magazines. Would any of you, readers and gardeners, be interested in one of a handful of lots of Organic Gardening magazine? Here's my pitch:

Old magazines are full of old printing techniques, laughable fashions, advertising with crude, unmerchantable copy, and outdated storylines. However, printing and fashions aside, Organic Gardening is 99.5 percent as fresh today as it was the year it was published. In fact, I leafed through one Rodale Press magazine from the 1940s the other day and was surprised to see the same problems and solutions printed then as you would see today (except their less than thorough take on sewage sludge as a fertilizer). Sure, the hybrid varieties touted then as an improvement may now be thirty years old, but the growing information is solid and the text is short and to the point. It's great to see articles on wild plant foraging, native plant gardening, chicken-raising, pickling, and all the other how-to know-how OG was known for back in the day that is de rigueur today .

Organic Gardening was printed as a half-sized edition of 8 x 5.5 inches. The paper used is nearly newsprint and yellowing from age, although each copy is fully bound and complete. You may notice the musty smell of an old magazine boxed in an old house -it's part of the charm. If you are interested in obtaining a year of OG, drop me a comment and email: It'll only cost you the shipping (USPS, flat rate).