Thursday, September 27, 2007

If you pass or visit Lynchburg, Virginia during your travels take a few minute detour to view the lovely preserved garden of Anne Spencer. Anne Spencer was first recognized as a Harlem poet during the 1920’s. She lived most of her life in Lynchburg where the garden she and her husband created formed the metaphor for many of her poems, such as the following written in 1975, the year she died:

“Turn an earth clod
Peel a shaley rock
In fondness molest a curly worm
Whose familiar is everywhere
And the curly worm sentient now
Will light the word that tells the poet what a poem is “

The nature images in her poems often soften her themes of feminism and discrimination. As her garden was a respite from the harshness of life.

“Most things are colorful things- -the sky, earth, and sea.
Black men are most men; the white are free!... “ excerpt from her poem "White Things"

This fall a collection of her letters and poem drafts will hopefully become part of the archives of the University of Virginia’s Special Collections Library. In 2005 a PBS GardenStory series presented a segment “Garden as Muse” on Anne Spencer.

Thanks to volunteers, such as the Hillside Garden Club, Lynchburg college students, and individuals, her garden and home remain open to the public. Several other historical buildings line the block where she lived. Her garden, always open to the public, is located behind her home at 1313 Pierce Street close to Route 29. Call Sandra Wilson (434-384-3963) for a guided tour of the Anne Spencer House & Garden Museum.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Still no rain, but a few tears! My mother had a heritage copper beech slaughtered. Trees have always been a special friend. My sister and I called this beech "the elephant tree". As a child I spent many hours prone on the enormous gray branch, hidden by the reddish leaves. All that is left is a seedling, which I will nourish.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

September Gardening Tips

September is the time to start planning and working on your spring garden. If you haven’t already noticed; the garden catalogues, garden shops and even hardware stores are selling a variety of spring bulbs and perennials. Prolific use of deer proof daffodils is always a guarantee for a joyful early spring.

This has been a wonderful summer for crepe myrtles and to prolong the white, pink and purple blooms remove the faded blooms. Removing the dead blooms on butterfly bushes will also stimulate new blooms.

Continue to cut the faded blooms of lilies, but do not cut the stems and foliage until they have turned yellow.

When your peony foliage and stems turn brown; cut and destroy the stems and leaves to protect spring growth from diseases. Now is the time to divide and plant peonies. Dig holes 2ft deep and 2ft wide and fill with compost and bone meal. Let soil settle a week or so then plant the peonies with their roots about 11/2 inches below the soil surface.

Use wood ash from your fireplace, wood stove, or burn pile to fertilize peonies and lilacs.

September is the best month to work on your lawn. My method is to let the clover spread and to encourage patches of mosses. However, I realize most still strive for the perfect “lawn”. So reseed, fertilize and remove weeds.

We may have moderate weather for several months so there is still time for your fall vegetable garden. Cool weather vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, herbs etc. Plant a few in containers. Before our first frost, take the containers inside to sunny spot and enjoy fresh vegetables and herbs all winter.

Water newly planted seeds, vegetables, shrubs and trees often. If dry; water established plants well no more than once or twice a month to encourage deep roots.

As always attack your weeds before they can reseed!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Yesterday I had an enjoyable and educational day at the 1st Heritage Harvest Festival at the headquarters of Monticello’s Center for Historic Plants near Charlottesville, VA.

Taste tested at least 30 different tomatoes and several tofu dishes, bought heritage red bell pepper seeds, attended lectures and received free Botswana Blackeye seeds. I learned how to grow beneficial plants which support beneficial insects and lure bad insects thereby protecting my garden, how to maintain a winter vegetable garden, with spinach and lettuces, etc., and how to save and store seeds from my favorite plants.

Thanks to Dr. McBug ( I learned that I was killing the beneficial insects (parasitic wasps) in the small white coccoons while killing the catterpillars (see previous post).
For more info about this and similar plant events visit and .