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Friday, July 12, 1997

lthough there's plenty of sunscreen and BBQ sauce to go around this hot and dry Summer, it's important not to get the two items mixed up when partying and drinking beer. If the chef du jour gets buzzed on too many brewski's, you could be in for a rather unpleasant surprise. Burgers and hotdogs taste terrible when basted with sunblock; besides, they'd never get cooked to perfection with all that SPF60 on them. Grab your sunglasses, a jug of ice water and a large towel; we're headed for the beach.

Mass Vacation.
Most of the population of southern Pennsylvania and northern Maryland has already headed to the shore or the beach (depending upon what part of the country you're from) for their annual vacations, or so it seems. Towns are semi-deserted as compared to other times of the year, except for deer season. July and August are vacation months around here. It's some sort of ritual; I've seen it every year since I moved here eight years ago from Princeton, NJ.
I can't even imagine spending a week or two anywhere there's 20,000 - 50,000 people in a little shore town, wanting to hoot and holler, get drunk, throw up and party endlessly all day and night. Maybe I'm just getting old(er). I used to do that 25 or 30 years ago Woodstock in 69 was just one of many festivals I attended in the 60s and 70s but it's something I'd pass on right now, thank-you-very-much. I could handle the music, but the partying would probably kill me.
When I ask the tanned vacation returnees coming into the center whether they had a good time at the beach or shore, the answer is always a resounding YES. Hmmm, I seem to remember news accounts of all the medical and human waste washing up on beaches throughout the eastern shore. How can anyone have fun dodging body parts and garbage in the water and syringes in the sand? Maybe they don't actually go to the beach?
Call me a coward, but I'll take a bucolic or an idyllic scenario anytime, far away from the maddening crowds. And miscellaneous debris.

Hot and Dry.
I'm sure I mentioned it somewhere: the drought and heat wave continue unabated. No relief is in sight; people and plants are still suffering. It's going on 16 weeks without significant rainfall now.
In addition to taking care of other business, I now spend hours each day hand-watering dry nursery stock, moving portable sprinkler towers from area to area, removing dried out and burnt plants to Greenhouse #1 for recuperation. My nursery assistants continually spot dried out plants and perform rescues hourly. Even with the overhead sprinklers, it's not enough to get the job done. We're running the two wells down almost daily just trying to keep plant material alive. Huge Storms pass right by and we get mere drops. Relief in the form of 5-6; no, 8-9 days of slow, soaking rain is sorely needed.
I've had to postpone some interesting landscape jobs that also involve transplanting existing, established plants. The lack of water, high soil and air temps would surely kill them. It's risky enough transplanting anything in the best of conditions, but this would be certain death. Best to wait until adequate moisture returns, temps drop and plants are able to break loose from stress. Needlessly wasting plant material and money is not wise
This July 4th Holiday was a moderately-busy day; the rest of the Holiday Weekend was busy, as people try to catch up with yard work and gardening. I shortened the hours of operation to 8am-5pm on the 4th, to give all of us a break for that Holiday. With the drought and excessive heat still in place and seemingly no perceivable end in sight it afforded some much needed downtime for me.

USA Today Article.
Email is still coming in from the USA Today article on us on the website and in the June 17th print edition. About 50-65 per day now, asking for catalogs and online transactions of our rare, unusual and hard-to-find plant material. Of the several thousand notes that came in, I managed to answer about one third. Netscape Navigator v3.01s mailboxes are still bulging; I'm continually working at sorting and screening through the mail into priority groups, which I'll get to answer eventually. I've also gotten 46 marriage proposals; some even from women. Heh, heh, heh.
Since we don't have an online catalog or process online transactions, each inquiry requires basically the same answer; I could have done a cut and paste job from a stock answer template, but I prefer to hand write most replies. Many people had other gardening-related questions attached, so a stock answer just wouldn't work. All inquiries with addresses will be added to the mailing list for our quarterly newsletter, Roots & Shoots. It's not exactly quarterly anymore: we've missed the Spring and probably Summer issues.With the thousands of inquiries that have arrived so far for catalogs and products, I began to rethink my long standing position on mail order. Naaaaah; too much trouble and I don't want the UPS trucks burning grooves in the asphalt here either. I'll let the idea go dormant again, for now.

The Summer Garden.
There are several dozen plants that do quite well in Summer; they thrive in hot, dry and unattended conditions and provide lots of color and a nice transition to the upcoming Fall garden. Selection and placement is what scares many people off, but it needn't be a problem. The tall ones are used for a backdrop; medium heights as fillers and shorter varieties are for repetition at the edges. Simple enough. Heck, if I can design and plant spectacular perennial gardens, anyone can.
Gaillardia (Blanket Flower), Rudbeckia (Black-Eyed Susans), Achillea (Yarrow), Caryopteris (Bluebeard Shrub), Echinacea (Purple Cone Flowers), Gaura (Dancing Butterflies), Geranium (True Perennial Geranium), Hemerocallis (Daylily), Lythrum (Loosestrife) and dozens more are worthy of consideration. Just make sure they're properly tagged and identified, so you'll know the cultural requirements of each.
Don't be afraid to plant now; as long as you can get water to the plants, this is a great time to install them in a garden, even in a drought. After a few waterings, they'll live on their own with little or no attention from you. If, after plating, they require too much water because of excess foliage and blooms, simply cut them back by 40-50%. Cut the flower stalks off completely. It takes a lot of energy and water to make flowers and set seed. That will aid the plant in feeding itself a bit less, requiring less water. Next year's show of color and fragrance will be spectacular, if you install them now and not wait until the Fall. They'll have a chance to root-in and grow over the balance of the season, making next year's garden all the better. When installing, use a transplant fertilizer; that is, one high in Phosphorous, the middle number in a fertilizer formula. 0-46-0 Triple Super Phosphate is a real good one. It comes in 5lb bags and a couple of tsp's mixed into the soil before the plant is installed really helps the roots get moving. I use it all the time.
There are several good books on perennials out that detail the varieties by season, color, height etc. Sunset Books ($7.95) publishes a worthy one for beginners, and it's a handy reference for moderate and advanced gardeners too.

SPAM Turns 60.
Okay. okay, I ate my fair share when I was a kid in the Boy Scouts, but I'm not showing any ill effects from it. Yet. At least nothing I'll admit to. Some call it America's pate de foie gras. Maybe and maybe not.
That cure all mystery meat in a can turns 60 this month. Hormel Co., in Minnesota, estimates that Americans purchase 3.6 cans of SPAM every second. That adds up to 216 cans a minute, 12,960 cans every hour. That's a lot of, whatever it is.
Read for yourself what the history is behind SPAM.

Moon vs Mars.
The whole scenario of the Rover and Sojourner have been exciting to watch the past week, but nothing that NASA has done in recent memory can compare to the moon landing on July 9, 1969.
I can remember watching it live at my parent's home in New Jersey, during my junior year at college summer break, just before leaving for Woodstock the next month. What a national high that was. The moon landing, that is.

Cracks In The Wall of Silence.
More dirt is starting to come out: the Democratic National Committee's (DNC) and White House connections to illegal campaign fundraising activities, espionage and the selling of The White House.
The sleazy little piece of shit, John Huang, of the criminal Indonesian Lippo Group, which was tied politically and personally to Slick Willie Clinton, used dummy companies to funnel funds from Lippo to Clinton. Documents now uncovered trace the connection and are building a foundation for a wide range criminal indictments.
Of course the scumbag Clinton knew; there's very little he didn't know about. Whether he was directly involved is another matter for criminal investigators. Hopefully they can prove the link and Clinton will join his own kind of criminals in prison. Once all the liberal criminals are in jail for their crimes, maybe they'll tune into TownHall for some serious therapy, before they get to meet all the degenerate criminals they wanted so much to rehabilitate and set free to hurt citizens once again.
Give investigators enough time and money and they can find the links, no matter how convoluted and hidden the sleazeball Clinton lowlifes originally made them. Obviously, several people are going to take the fall for Clinton; he's insulated and isolated himself from the possibility of criminal wrongdoing by having underlings do all the dirty work. Huang certainly must know that. I wonder if he'll rat-out some of Clinton's liberal criminal friends? With the promise of immunity, anything can happen.
The Summer is getting more and more interesting all the time.
The Cannucks (Canadians) apparently don't think much of Slick Willie either.
But the selectedAmerican morons do,more so than ever. Go figure how fucked up the people are who approve of the Clinton criminals. Talk about clueless, as long as their pockets are full of worthless change.

No, not the motorized Harley kind; rather people cycles. Here in York, PA the home of Harley-Davidson Motorcycles people go through cycles of plant material each year. What's hot one year is compost the next. One year, it's Birch (Betula x varieties), the next year it's Black Eyed Susans (Rudbeckia Goldstrum) and the following year it's Viburnum (Viburnum x varieties). Who can predict what articles in the consumer garden magazines will spur a rush to certain plants, ornamental grasses or fads? Certainly not me. But after eight short years in the business, I can make very educated guesses.
In anticipation of what's hot, I look at trends; mostly from wholesalers around the US who I do business with in the rare, unusual and hard-to-find plant categories. The common plant fads I don't bother with; the common garden centers can deal with that retail craziness. I spot the purchasing patterns from previous years, what articles have been and are being written about, say Alpine Trough Gardens, and isolate 10-15 conifers that work well in those situations. Then I buy. I'm not wrong very often.
I can also create regional trends by having articles about my unusual products and creations placed in horticulture-related magazines, and place the actual product(s) in flower and horticulture shows. The attention generated is most gratifying.

It's a first for me: no tools in the condo and a critical project needs work.
A Levolor vertical blind just pulled loose in the bedroom window; four screws in moly-bolt holders and I haven't a screwdriver or drill in the place. Shit. No drill, moly bolts, screws, screwdriver or anything resembling a hand tool. There's no way I can fix it tonight. I looked through my knife collection and couldn't find even a Swiss Army Knife with a screwdriver blade. A thin dime won't do either.
All my hand and power tools are at the Garden Center. They've been there for 8 years now; I haven't had a project to do in all that time at the condo, so there wasn't any need for them. Until now.
Time to improvise: I removed the damaged blind and fixture and taped newspaper over the bare window until I can get to a hardware store and stock up on the hardware I need to fix this mess.

Our Ancestors.
All of a sudden, things are changing: as a species, we're not related to whom we thought we were.

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