Saturday, August 19, 2006

Garden Visitors

It's 5:40 AM and ever so quiet this morning. The windows have been open all night despite the rain so the house is cooler than the outside temperature. The sky is very dark and there is a sense of more rain to come.

When Gail and I planned a small addition to our house two years ago, we added an office space for me to hold up in. The plan was a small space for a couple computers, speakers, printers, scanner, fax and reference books. It will be two full years this December that the project was completed. I've decided that a bigger space would have been nice but the list of intrusions would have been greater too.

The dog's bed lays under the window, a filing cabinet was added to "contain" the myriad of garden bills and records, and a paper shredder that always needs to be emptied rests against one wall. Gail found a beehive super minus the frames at a yard sale which someone had refinished to sit on end and use as a file of sorts. It works well for all our gardening catalogs and letterhead. And then there's the church lecturn she found at an antique shop someplace. I thought it was an odd purchase when it first came through the door but it has worked nicely as a catch all, although it looks much better without the clutter.

I never did finish decorating as controling mail alone by itself has taken an incredible amount of time, let alone the web site and family business. Still, a 1929 print of Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, a print of Abe Lincoln and family, and a shadow box of one of my arrowhead collections are a good enough start to give me some peace. I have one of Sandy Raynor's garden ladies mounted to the right of the window and she always looks at me as I glance out towards the gardens. I should probably move her to the wall behind me so she can look out at all the color. Sandy operates Goosepeck Studio from Peacham but the garden lady is just a fine piece of pottery so she doesn't do much but entertain me. Just thinking about her reminds me that I should probably head for the St Johnsbury Farmers Market and see if Sandy is there selling her creations. Sometimes she sets up there.

So as I sit here this morning, still waiting for more morning light and enjoying my space, I've been thinking about garden visitors. There have been lots this spring and summer. Thousands. And I've enjoyed everyone but the person who dug a chunk of Pacific Blue Edger from the lower hosta garden. At some point in their life, that person will pay dearly for the misdeed. It's unfortunate. If that person was without means I would have given away a piece. Different people have different priorities in life and the respect that was so common when I was a kid is not always prevalent now. One bad apple out of thousands is really not bad.

Visitors come in various sizes and shapes, in and on a variety of motor craft, and at all times of day regardless of whether we are open or closed. Some visitors fly in on the wind and visit and leave almost without notice. The other afternoon I was thinking more about dinner than visitors and a couple from Ontario stopped by. They were camping up the road and saw our sign and decided to visit. They grow for a farmers market and at one time operated 9 greenhouses in a tomato growing business. Now they are down to 3 houses but that takes lots of time and works well with the man's retirement and his wife's work as a nurse. She'll retire too in a couple more years.

Visitors are often willing to share about themselves and their gardens. Sometimes I almost feel bad when I can't talk and have to keep customeres hustling along. Gail says I talk too much and probably would sell more if I would talk less. She may be right but I know that people who feel comfortable here come back and buy again and that's part of being a success. My discussion with the Ontario folks included hydroponics, buying seeds for greenhouse growing, energy, taxes, the Canadian medical system, and farmer's markets. It was an interesting disucssion.

Earlier this week a couple stopped from Pomfret Center, Connecticut. Gail was waiting on them and I was heading to the lower garden when I noticed their business advertisement on their truck door. "Litha Hill, Herbs and Flora" It caught my eye. Herbs, oh herbs. Gail and I grew over 50 different herbs back in the 80s and we sold at the Burlignton Farmers Market. Bethany Bowen told us about her business, her theme gardens and her thoughts of writing which I encouraged. We discussed publishing companies and the benefits of getting your name out in a variety of ways. They were camping at Kettle Pond or Stillwater....can't remember... and I was supposed to be planting hostas anyway so we parted after a plesant conversation. I need to spend some time at their website but you might get a chance before I do. Go to

Garden visitors include insects like the one pictured above. With our changing climate, we see more insects each week than ever before. I rarely know the insects like I used to but this is winter's research work. I have a collection of beetles in the freezer and will sort them out when I have a minute. With people visitors I have memories of good conversations. Gardening is a friendly pursuit and good friends are nice to have.

From the moutain above Peacham Pond where the ruby throated hummingbirds are competing with bumble bees at the bull thistle blooms.

Gardening wishes,

George Africa

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