In this merry, merry month of May, the downstairs refrigerator is filled with shoeboxes and cartons and envelopes of seeds for spring planting, bare root Mara des Bois strawberry plants, and to Earle’s ultimate horror, “piles of dirty, crusty mop-heads.” Actually, it was 20 pounds of Purple Passion and Millennium asparagus crowns.
Despite snow flurries in the higher elevations of Central Pennsylvania earlier this week, all of those asparagus mop-heads made it into the ground thanks to the efforts of Earle’s eldest son and my “chef-phew” Wille who, with shovel in hand, was transformed into “asparagus trench man”. With the asparagus and strawberry crowns well watered in, it is time to settle back, pick some arugula, and think about transplanting tomatoes into the garden once the soil warms up.
On the other side of the Atlantic, Marina harvested beets, leeks and parsnips at The Castle garden. Earlier this year, she was looking for volunteer work to do in her London neighborhood and joined a group that was planting fruit trees at “The Castle”. There are lots of castles and gardens in the UK but Marina just happened to join the grounds-keeping crew at The Castle Climbing Centre in Hackney Borough. After a morning of digging or weeding or harvesting, gardeners are given vouchers for the indoor rock climbing gym.
The Castle was built in the 1850s as the Stoke Newington (water) Pumping Station, modeled after a Scottish baronial manor, complete with buttresses, towers, turrets and tall, narrow windows. In 1994, it was redeveloped into a climbing center with climbing walls, boulders, and a coffee bar that serves two seasonal dishes daily (made with vegetables grown in The Castle garden). So, with a pair of hand-me-down climbing shoes and the gentle coaching of a few friends, Marina has found a new sport as well as a garden to grow in. Laurie Lynch
Camel Conference Update: Two camels made a guest appearance at the University of London, SOAS, for their appointed photo session. Marina took these shots of the camels and the crowd.
Wildlife in State College: My mother’s garden room (we call it the atrium) is the center of the house. We eat all of our meals there, and in April and May it doubles as my seedling nursery. The sunny warmth of the room attracted a large garter snake this week (we’re still not sure how he/she got in). The housekeeper was ready to climb the chandelier, but my mother, ever the gracious hostess, took the unannounced visitor in stride. She simply got a paper towel, picked up the snake, and deposited it outside on the brick patio. Her memory may be fleeting but her courage is not.