Thursday, December 30, 2010
3 PM here on the mountain. One lonely mourning dove at the feeder. Looking across the valley I can see the last sun already leaving Hooker Mountain and heading west. The temperature will fall quickly now without the sun but it has been a beautiful, productive day.
I just put a roast in the oven and the vegetables are prepared to follow in a while. I want it ready about the time Gail returns tonight. I'm just guessing at the time because she is in New Hampshire making arrangements for the transfer of her one remaining uncle from the hospital to a community care facility. At age 92 he cannot safely manage himself any more and a recent fall confirmed his needs to probably everyone but him. Independence is a difficult thing to relinquish.
For me, even giving up old gardening magazines is difficult too. For days now, Gail has sorted and bagged magazines for different friends based on her knowledge of what they grow and what magazines they already receive. When she's not looking, I go through the piles again and pull out things that "I need". It happened again today as I threw a safety net around a 2008 (vol. 2) copy of Fine Gardening's design ideas: 17 strategies for shade gardens.
Early in the issue, editor Steve Aitken offers an introduction entitled Seeing the Light:Knowing what kind of shade you have is the first step to success. The title is a fitting description to a dilemma that creates unrest for gardeners, new and more experienced alike. I see the consequence all the time at the nursery when asked "Will it grow for me in my garden?" When I ask about light or absence of light, the dilemma often deepens. If I can get a "my house is situated north-south", or "east-west" out of people that is a good start but often I find myself asking where the sun is in the morning or at night. An occasional "Why, it's everywhere!" is less than helpful but usually describes the exuberance of the gardener to succeed. Aitken's article (pages 10-11) is a good start as he includes a diagram complete with compass-like readings and the flow of the sun from morning to afternoon. He also shows the shade impact based on the position of the sun and makes the concern easier for the reader to apply to their own location.
Reading along I thought again of Sue Reed's new book, Energy-Wise Landscape Design. It is the perfect book for people planning a new home construction, a home remake or a landscape change. It describes sun and wind and relates them to your house, out buildings, walks and drives, lawns and gardens . It suggests where to plant what type plants, shrubs, trees and explains why. Every idea can help save money through efficient design, construction and landscaping.
In an age when energy efficiency has become cost-imperative, we really need to try anything to save energy and money...and still enjoy and be able to maintain our homes and landscapes. This past week many in America experienced severe weather and some of the worst winds in their lives. Some winds were just too strong and no matter what a homeowner had planted would have been devastated. But the sound of wind in your ear can be a reminder that some of Sue's suggestions would have slowed the wind and energy loss, while adding, not detracting from the landscape.
I hope this little thought, generated from a rescued magazine, will make you go to pencil and paper and rework thoughts of how well energy saving really integrates with home and landscape planning. Give it a try!
Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where chickadees and evening grosbeaks crowd the feeders for supper.
The Vermont Gardener
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