Would Any Garden Smell as Sweet?

CARDING CHRONICLE, JULY 25, 2014

Every summer, Paula Boutin (Carding’s erstwhile town manager) makes a point of walking all of the town maintained trails.

Joe Pye weed and bindweed
Not only does she consider it a part of her job (she’s the one who signs the checks for the trail crew), it also gives her the world’s best excuse for getting out of the office on a nice day.

Ted Owens (do we hear wedding bells in their future?) often accompanies her, especially now that the USPS, in its finite wisdom, has cut Carding’s post office hours even more.

In winter, Ted’s usually got a pair of skis in his hands. This time of year, it’s a camera.

Ever since Hurricane Irene, the Joe Pye weed has spread along the Corvus River, making a great climbing pole for the bindweed that’s just coming into bloom.

As Paula, who’s not much into gardening, likes to point out: “A walk in the woods equals beautiful flowers, no weeding, no mowing.”

—posted by Little Crow

A Weed Is Just Another Name for…

Ruth Goodwin and Edie Wolfe are the best of friends.
Queen Ann's Lace for web
Under most circumstances, you can be sure that one of them thinks, the other does as well.

About cooking, child raising, Carding politics, quilting, dogs…the important things in life.

But there is one subject on which they seldom agree.

Gardening.

Ruth, you see, is a woman born to believe that the botanical denizens in her yard are there to be controlled. In high summer, you’ll see her in the yard plucking weeds out of the ground before the sun has completely cleared the horizon.
To Ruth, items not planted or planned by her are weeds—no matter how low-care they are.

Edie is far more relaxed.

To her, violets are a welcome spring present. Ferns add an airy quality to her primroses and bachelor buttons.

And Queen Ann’s Lace should be part of every summer garden.

“After all,” she reminds the apoplectic Ruth whenever she sees this white princess growing among Edie’s bee balm, “a weed in the garden is called a perennial. And where else can I find something so pretty that takes care of itself.”

Lovin’ That CSA

Carding’s town manager, Paula Boutin, is a busy lady. Between her job, spending time with her (at last) squeeze Ted Owens and his niece Suzanna, kayaking, hiking, skiing, etc. she’s just never had time to garden.
Red cabbage for web
But she loves nothing better than fresh—veggies, fruit, eggs, milk, cheese, beer—all the things you can buy local here in Vermont.

This summer, she and Ted decided to buy a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) from Honey Locust Farm over in Bradford. When you buy a CSA, you buy a weekly allotment of a farm’s produce in season.

Fresh without all the dirt, you know.

This red cabbage found its way into coleslaw with grated carrot, some sunflower seeds, and a dressing of mayo and horseradish.

Yummy.

More Bookshelves in the Future?

Not that Edie Wolfe needed any more books in her house but who can resist a book sale set in a garden on a cool summer morning?
Norwich book sale 1 for web
Not Edie Wolfe. As a matter of fact, her friend Ruth Goodwin was just bragging about how she’d managed to find a little more shelf space for books in her sewing room.
Norwich book sale 5 for web
Hmmm, maybe not any more.

Anyhow, the two friends had a wonderful time prowling through this sale, knowing that all the dollars they spent would help support the Norwich Public Library.

And as Edie observed: “There was a lot of good stuff there. And one can always find space for more books.”
Norwich book sale 2 for web

Elderberry Wine

Ruth Goodwin, Edie Wolfe’s best friend, has a north-facing slope where she’s always wanted to plant elderberries.
Elderberry blossom for web
She finally got around to adding one bush—she calls it a test bush—to her yard three years ago.

This first year, it was not much more than the original twig she put in the ground.

Last year, it got to the size of a small bush and she almost forgot where she’d put it.

This year, it has taken full command of the yard area immediately surrounding it, towers way over Ruth’s head, and is blooming.

This is the true elderberry wine, the light fragrance of its flowers.

Every time she walks by, the elderberry reminds Ruth there’s a lot to smile about.

Canada Lilies

Did you ever wonder why a Canada goose is named for that country? Or what makes French toast French? Or English muffins English?
Canada lily cluster for web
I don’t know either. But I am so glad our neighbor to the north decided to share these flowers with us.

Ever since the path through the woods has been reopened, we’ve been discovering how much Hurricane Irene rearranged the pattern of the botanicals down there.

B. I. (Before Irene), there was just a small handful of these flowers down by the river. Now they’ve spread and we find them tucked away in places where we’ve never seen them before.

Lovely, aren’t they?

Author of the Carding, Vermont novels, quilt books, and book publishing guides.