Monthly Archives: March 2016

Ode to My Garden Pruners

Knoll_pruners

Photo by Tricia Knoll

Ode to My Garden Pruners

The hardware store keeps your kind
under lock and key. I know I could lose you
like sewing scissors, postcard stamps,
that jade ring from China,
my purple pull-down hat for fall.

I rigged up a cinching-to-me. One Goodwill belt,
a leather holster, slick-draw me and you, my garden gun,
ready for mayhem to camellias. Or caressing.
I learned how to prune the rose bush from a master
with ten thousand in his care, and now you snip
rose hips and blind shoots under sagging lilacs and ambitious camellias.
Help me tame the vertical fig that smothers the quaking aspen.
What fears us? Your jaws of steel, anvil blade.

You are my costume, my going forth into green.
I swivel the holster to the small of my back
so you won’t fall when I lean, rip out blackberry.
I home you into your holster bed in one swift move.

There is so much to love about you, long-term.
How your swivel lock closes your eagle craw.
Did you ask for handles dipped in red?
Would you have liked dark green? Gold?
Sky blue? Red leads me to you.

Yes, I use your blades to dig dandelions
or slice open a bag of bark dust when no one looks.
I apologize for knicks from trying to bite off more
than we can chew through, your mouth
smaller than twinberry gone gangly.

You’re reluctant to disturb
the fat spider hung
who caught a fly and shrouded it in silk,
and you are right.

Later for the roses.

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Tricia Knoll is a Portland, Oregon poet who has maintained gardens all her life, sowing the seeds of sanity. She grew up admiring her mother’s roses and vegetable garden. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and volunteers at Portland’s Washington Park Rose Test Garden. Her chapbook Urban Wild is available from Amazon and focuses on interactions between humans and wildlife in urban habitat.

Her lyric and eco-poetry of  Ocean’s Laughter (Aldrich Press) focuses on a small town on the Oregon coast, Manzanita. Website: triciaknoll.com
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Because “Gardening Makes People Happy!” *

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My beloved plot at the Vermijo Community Garden in 2010. SO MUCH FUN!

This is going to be the short and sweet review of a great book I’ve had around for . . . <gulp!> a year.

Even though it’s taken a while to get to this review, it thrilled me to see that LaManda Joy had written Start a Community Food Garden: The Essential Handbook. Joy appeared on my radar some years ago (hee hee), when she was lecturing about World War II victory gardens, which were often a type of community garden. That subject fascinated me. For instance: Did you know that a lot of the people who started gardening then, in the big cities during the war, had zero gardening experience starting out? I sure didn’t. Captivated by the story of people getting together for the greater good, I thought my readers would love to know about victory gardening too, and so I asked Joy if she’d write something for Greenwoman. She did, and the result was an amazing historical story that actually fit in so well with exactly what many of us are trying to do today—growing food that is nutritious, organic, and so very delicious; making good use of our land in the city; exposing our children to meaningful, wholesome work; having fun interacting with and learning about nature; connecting with our community, etc. Back in the early ’40s these community gardens were created for the war effort, out of necessity. I’d argue that today they’re also being created out of necessity, to fill the many deficiencies in our modern, high-tech lives. But that’s another subject.

Joy’s curiosity about victory gardens, her love of gardening, and her desire to share her ample knowledge of food cultivation led her to creating a community garden in her neighborhood. Synchronicity is an amazing thing; while she was researching WWII victory garden community gardens, she learned that an empty plot of land near her home was the site of one. She dug in (literally & figuratively) and got a new community garden started there! The Peterson Garden Project has taught and fed hundreds of people since and has led to the creation of more gardens.

start-a-community-food-garden

Start a Community Food Garden is the most comprehensive and easy-to-read book on the subject that I’ve read. Joy takes you gently and logically, step-by-step: from figuring out what kind of garden to create, to mobilizing others to help, to organizing and presenting meetings, to the dozens of practical considerations—water, security, soil amending, tools, and so on. I promise you that this is the only book you’ll need if you want to get started on getting a community garden in your neighborhood.

I know this book covers all the bases because I was a member of a community garden myself for a few years. For years, I had longed to try this form of gardening and was excited when I finally got the chance. The experience was, of course, hard work, and not without a few ups and downs (we experienced several late summer vegetable thefts) but I loved it. I only left because of the waiting list. It was time to let someone else have a go at it and I had the space and means to build some vegetable beds in my own backyard. Last summer I met the woman who had taken over my plot, and she thanked me for the rich, amended soil and a beautiful lily I had (accidentally) left behind. She said it had grew over 5 feet tall and was the centerpiece of her garden. Oh, the little surprises and fun we can pass on, even after we’ve left a community garden!

If you haven’t tried it, now’s the time. And you’ll have a wonderful blueprint with this book!

I’ll leave you with a special treat; a video where you can see LaManda Joy and the Peterson Garden Project for yourself.

—Sandra Knauf

(Note: While Timber Press graciously sent me a free copy of this book, I was not paid to review it, nor are any of my reviews purchased.)

*Quote from LaManda Joy.

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March Pink

Knoll_camellia

Photo by Tricia Knoll.

Here in Colorado, where there’s only a tease, a mere hint of green in early March, it’s hard to imagine parts of the country–and the world–now blooming in technicolor. Tricia Knoll shows us what is going on in Oregon with a poem she wrote last night. In an accompanying note she remarked that on Saturday, as she texted her daughter in Vermont images of daffodils, her daughter was purchasing rock salt for her icy sidewalk.
–Sandra Knauf

Pink Camellia Bloom

Bud an ovoid vow
to open overnight.

Stared in the face,
fibonnaci series swirls.

To the fingertip
silk-rouged flesh.

Upside down flirt
of a square-dance skirt.

Hold to the nose
cold, wet.

Vased up on the desk,
a fastly falling mess.

Let scatter to earth
to brown down

mere worm food
like all the rest.

* * *

Tricia Knoll is a Portland, Oregon poet who has maintained gardens all her life, sowing the seeds of sanity. She grew up admiring her mother’s roses and vegetable garden. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and volunteers at Portland’s Washington Park Rose Test Garden. Her chapbook Urban Wild is available from Amazon and focuses on interactions between humans and wildlife in urban habitat.

Her lyric and eco-poetry of  Ocean’s Laughter (Aldrich Press) focuses on a small town on the Oregon coast, Manzanita. Website: triciaknoll.com
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Never Pull Up and Discard What You Cannot Identify

hollyhock_whitestalk_Hall

Photo by Kathryn Hall

 

Readers of my book Plant Whatever Brings You Joy: Blessed Wisdom from the Garden will be familiar with this, one of 52 such metaphorical lessons: “Never pull up and discard what you cannot identify,” an invitation to not pre-judge that which enters your life that seems unfamiliar. “The Lord works in mysterious ways,” as we know. The blessings in our lives can show up in many different unexpected packages. So when I planted morning glory seeds in March on a rosy obelisk, well away from the rest of the garden, so it could not overcome whatever was growing nearby, I thought I was so clever both to get a head start, and to plant in a trouble-free spot. Imagine my surprise when what emerged were clearly not morning glories. For weeks I remained befuddled by what came up, and how, but the only “logical” explanation was that the morning glory seeds did not come up, but something that had lain dormant, waiting, did. But what? Reluctantly, I continued to water the mysterious seedlings, seeking patience, fostering curiosity, attempting to transcend my annoyance that my vision for my lovely blue flowers climbing the white obelisk was not to be. But what were they? For the longest time I didn’t have a clue. And then suddenly, out of the blue, I had a solid moment of surprised recognition. “I think those are hollyhocks!” I found myself thinking. Stunned. Incredulous. Hollyhocks? Two dozen in one spot? How could that be? I ran to the back of the garden and picked a large hollyhock leaf from my established hollyhocks, and ran back to compare. Indeed. Impossible to imagine, yet there it was. Identical. So the truth of the matter is that I planted morning glory seeds from my glass bottle of collected seeds from last year, still in their husks, some of them, and what emerged were a myriad of hollyhock seeds. Not a single morning glory seed among them.

For doubters (easy to imagine) let me assure you that I know my way around flat, round, dry, paperlike hollyhock seeds and hard dark morning glory seeds in their dry husks. No question. But there you have it. The only (near impossible) explanation is that I’d chosen a dry patch of earth away from the main garden, a place that never gets watered beyond rain, and beneath that seeming barren spot were the seeds of someone else’s long ago garden just awaiting that exact set of circumstances to take place.

Eventually the familiar buds appeared and then the mystery remained about what color flower would emerge. As fate would have it, they were white, the only white hollyhocks in  the garden (and nothing I would elect to purchase), further substantiating they had been someone else’s choice. I might imagine a bird had brought them in, had the plant not been so full!

This year they are back and even larger, so we will be enjoying another round of white hollyhocks among the pinks and reds.

So let’s ponder for a moment, shall we?  For I am writer who thinks metaphorically. What beauty, what gift, what treasure lies within you, or your children, or your spouse, or your best friends, or your students, invisibly, that is awaiting the perfect conditions to make itself gloriously known, adding to the blessings that surround you? This is something impossibly close, something you are apparently oblivious to. This gift would be content to lie beneath the earth for a long long time. It has no scheduled agenda. However, with the right amount of tending, of rain, of warmth, of sunshine, it might surprise you.

It is time, apparently, for us to suspend what we tell ourselves, what our natural expectations are, and to open to the possibility that all is not precisely what we think, how we see things. It might be different. Or better. Or unexpected. And a bigger outcome than we imagined. Better than we could have thought up for ourselves. It happens. What a miracle and blessing that the garden stands ready to remind us at any time.

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Kathryn Hall is the author of Plant Whatever Brings You Joy.  For more information please visit www.plantwhateverbringsyoujoy.com Books are available on Amazon, in Barnes and Noble and indie stores around the country.

 

 

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