Writer makes com­pelling case to keep gar­den go­ing year-round

The Columbus Dispatch - - Front Page - By Di­ana Lock­wood • Di­ana Lock­wood, a free­lance writer cov­er­ing gar­den­ing top­ics, posts on Face­book at www.face­book.com/ Full sun 40 to 48 inches 12 inches — Bar­bara Arnold Franklin Park Con­ser­va­tory

Anew book, “The Gar­den in Ev­ery Sense and Sea­son,” has landed on my desk at just the right mo­ment.

In her col­lec­tion of es­says, author To­vah Martin, an or­ganic gar­dener and gar­den writer, urges read­ers to love their land­scapes year-round — in­clud­ing fall and win­ter, not just the “easy” sea­sons of spring and summer.

Al­though I would def­i­nitely clas­sify my­self as a pas­sion­ate gar­dener, I usu­ally start to feel worn out by fall. I’m be­hind on weed­ing, and ev­ery­thing from an­nu­als to peren­ni­als to veg­eta­bles is over­grown and past its prime.

As for win­ter, I strug­gle to muster much en­thu­si­asm when the gar­den is dor­mant and tem­per­a­tures hover be­low freez­ing.

Martin, how­ever, skill­fully and sen­si­tively shows that fall and win­ter are as ap­peal­ing, if not as showy, as spring and summer.

“I have learned that un­less you con­sciously ex­pe­ri­ence your gar­den, you might be blind to its beauty,” she writes in the in­tro­duc­tion.

To achieve that goal, she urges read­ers to be­come at­tuned to their five senses.

While view­ing col­or­ful fo­liage or smelling a fra­grant flower is an easy way to en­joy a land­scape, Martin also tells how to make the most of of sound, touch and taste.

She shares plenty of tan­ta­liz­ing ob­ser­va­tions about spring, such as the sat­is­fy­ing feel of sow­ing seeds; and summer, such as the en­thralling hum­ming and buzzing of pol­li­na­tors on a hot day.

But her ob­ser­va­tions about the other two sea­sons are where read­ers can turn for inspiration at this time of year.

Of au­tumn, she writes, “Put your nose to the air to smell the tell­tale wood smoke; go for a walk to find the wild grapes; … pick some ap­ples.”

In an es­say called Crunch Time, she shares her ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the sounds of fallen leaves.

“To pen­e­trate my prop­erty Author To­vah Martin en­joys the sound of dry leaves be­ing raked.

“The Gar­den in Ev­ery Sense and Sea­son” (Tim­ber, 292 pages, $24.95) by To­vah Martin

from Oc­to­ber to the first snow, you are go­ing to wade through a sea of leaves, which en­tails a whole lot of shuf­fling, crack­ling, and crunch­ing.”

(She lives in Con­necti­cut, which, like Ohio, is in­un­dated with leaves from de­cid­u­ous trees ev­ery fall.)

As for the cold­est time of year, it “could be an in­ter­lude when you dream about more pro­fuse sea­sons, or win­ter can be just as sen­su­ally suf­fused as any other time,” she writes.

She ad­mires the sparkle of frost, the sil­hou­ettes of bare trees and the won­der­ful warmth of sun­beams.

“There’s noth­ing like a good, strong sun­beam in mid­win­ter,” she writes. “Bet­ter than a heat vent, sun­beams are like a poul­tice.” One of author To­vah Martin’s goats seems es­pe­cially glad to see her on a snowy day.

Through the miracle of cit­rus fruit raised in­doors, she even finds a way to ex­er­cise her sense of taste.

“Al­though I would never claim that cit­rus is easy to grow, you can do it,” she writes. “Win­ter here is spent snack­ing bliss­fully on my cala­m­ondin or­ange, which sits in the bright­est win­dow I can man­age.”

Wow, that makes in­door

gar­den­ing sound al­most fun. With her sup­port, get­ting through win­ter might be a lit­tle eas­ier this year.

“Real gar­den­ers don’t hi­ber­nate in win­ter,” she writes. “They just draw the fo­cus closer around them.” Stand­ing Ova­tion lit­tle bluestem




USDA Har­di­ness Zones: 3 to 8 Ori­gin: North Amer­ica

A plant with lateau­tumn in­ter­est is the Stand­ing Ova­tion lit­tle bluestem grass (Schizachyrium sco­par­ium ‘Stand­ing Ova­tion’).

The up­right, lance­shaped leaves are steel-blue all summer be­fore chang­ing to a lovely pur­ple with hints of or­ange in the fall.

In the late summer, this grass has small, pur­ple­bronze flow­ers that bloom close to the stem; these flow­ers even­tu­ally trans­form into white, cot­tony seed heads.

The flower stalks re­main for much of the win­ter, giv­ing this plant a more ver­ti­cal look.

This low-main­te­nance or­na­men­tal grass is drought-tol­er­ant once it is estab­lished, and will flop with too much fer­til­izer and water.

True care is only to be cut back to 1 inch above the ground in late win­ter.

Lit­tle bluestem was one of the most dom­i­nant grasses found in tall-grass prairies.

See the beau­ti­ful fall color of Stand­ing Ova­tion lit­tle bluestem in the Scotts Miracle-Gro Foun­da­tion Chil­dren’s Gar­den as well as the Crane Or­na­men­tal Grass and Conifer Col­lec­tion at Franklin Park Con­ser­va­tory and Botan­i­cal Gar­dens.




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