Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sweet Peas and Other Maine Thoughts

Sunday, November 13, 2011

28.1° this morning. The moon's light is overshadowed by floating clouds but surrounding stars offer plenty of light. It bounces off the snow and allows for easy travel. Deer hunters will be happy to have a second morning to work their way into the woods easily. There is a crunch to the frozen leaves but the shadows are alluring and remind me that I should learn to take those pictures sometime. Karl the Wonder Dog isn't into photography and just wanted to keep walking but I have things to accomplish today. I am like the message in my favorite poet, Robert Frost's, Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening. He wrote:

"But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Social media gets all the hype now and it's justified. As a gardener I can see and hear new ideas, great suggestions, from around the world from people I may not even know. This morning I read a note from Carol in Hope, Maine reminding me of the garden beauty that appears in the work of Belfast, Maine photographer Lynne Karlin. In 2001, I bought GARDENS Maine Style which Lynn co-authored with Rebecca Sawyer-Fay. I loved the book because it reminded me of so many places I had visited in my "second best state" after Vermont. Their sequel, GARDENS Maine Style Act II is equally entertaining and the books sit side by side on one of my bookcases, a bit worn from sharing with other gardeners.

Although friend Carol was pointing out the books, she was also calling my attention to a gardener in Surry Maine, just down from Bar Harbor. The business is Sue Keating's Sweet Pea Gardens and it's another on my list of "Been there's". Years ago when Gail and I were first growing flowers together, we grew sweet peas for sale at the Burlington Farmers Market. Sweet peas were a New England farmer's garden favorite and every farm lady either of us knew grew sweet peas. Gail's dad was a good gardener too and each year he planted sweet peas for flowers the same time he plated peas to eat. Gail's mom loved the flowers and Ralph was there to please with the peas. There was no question about how Gail learned to grow tall, long stemmed, beautifully fragrant sweet peas or why she loved them so much.

Fast forward 30 years and we have just begun to discuss growing sweet peas again. Success comes in good seed which is more pricey now than the $28 a pound we paid in the early 80's. Success also comes from good garden soil and getting the seed started in early spring. If you are interested in seed, Keating's website offers some for sale. There is also a link to the National Sweet Pea Society (United Kingdom) that will get you thinking about a beautiful flower. What you will not find on the Internet, is any place that offers in-line fragrance of a bouquet of sweet peas. Buy some seed. Enjoy!

Writing from the moutnain above Peacham Pond where deer hunters have started traveling the roads and getting out of camp and into the woods. Not much activity yesterday. Herd is said to be down 10% statewide due to last year's winter.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm
On Facebook as Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens and also as George Africa
On Twitter as vtflowerfarm

Our nursery is closed for the season but web sales continue year round as we try to help you grow your green thumb!

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