Good news

Things are really looking up around here.  I have to say that I still have goosebumps and this weirdly giddy feeling that must be called “hope”.  Rhode Islanders, regardless of a devastatingly stinky economy (did you know that we now have the embarrassing distinction of having the highest unemployment rate in the country?), passed three expensive ballot measures that all look toward what I think must be a brighter future.  (Hope is our state’s motto, by the way and any gardener’s word to live by.)  So don’t let rough roads and bridges keep you from visiting Blithewold – they’ll be fixed and we have even allowed funding for the purchase and protection of open spaces!  And near and dear to my heart, Bristol voters have willingly increased their property taxes to pay for a new animal shelter (all three of my kids used to reside in the current shelter building which is like a festering sore.  Now these two scamps live in my aspidistra.)  It seems to me like a gardener’s mentality has taken hold in the general populace – we gardeners know that we have an active hand in making things grow and thrive and even when we’re at our most cynical, we’re optimistically planning for the future.

Things are looking up here at Blithewold too.  The roofers have arrived with scaffolding and slate and will begin the first phase of a project that will ensure that the house and archives will be protected from rain and snow for another 100 years at least.  The good news for me, selfishly, was the excuse for a panoramic photo op with side order of vertigo.

And there’s so much to look forward to next week when Margaret Roach, famous fellow blogger from A Way to Garden and former editor of Martha Stewart Magazine speaks to us at our annual Garden Design Luncheon.  Again, selfishly, I’m hoping for a photo op and a chance for some heart to heart girl talk about frogs.  It looks like registration for this not-to-be-missed event is filling up so pull up a chair while you still can.  (click here for more info)

Some of what is up must come down:  Nick the Willing shredded the majority of our first fall of leaves yesterday.  The pile pictured is the pathetic looking result of the 2 or so hours of shredding I did earlier in the week.  Nick’s pile is much more impressive and I think we’re well on our way to having enough.  Although, Gail always says “That’s it?  We need MORE!”  And of course she’s right.  Gail and I will use Nick’s leaf pile for mulching all of the Display Garden beds next year and if we’re on the ball, we’ll get some leaves down soon on the paths in the Cutting Garden.  We also spread a leaf and grass mix from the mowers all over Dick’s vegetable bed – he thought it did wonders for the soil last year and was easier to deal with than sowing and tilling winter rye.  In the Rock Garden I spread a thin blanket of pine needles which makes the garden look tucked in for the winter even though we traditionally don’t put that garden “to bed” by cutting things back.  We’ll have to keep an eye on the pH of the soil though since pine needles are especially acidic.

Do you use shredded leaves or pine needles as mulch or do you add your leaves to the compost?  (Don’t tell me you put them out with the trash!  -Some of my neighbors do that and it’s all I can do to not trash pick – I need MORE!  They already think I’m nuts.)