Sunday, January 25, 2009

Mulch Pow(d)er

Some people see "winter wonderland," and yes, it is, sort of - a miniature urban one - I will not deny it.

But I see mulch.

The powder of snow is the perfect mulch for all that is percolating beneath its white blanket. And fortunately back here where only the dog - a pug - mostly trudges, the blanket stays mostly white a bit longer than what falls on the streets of the city.

Grapefruits, or Pomelos?

During a visit this fall to Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania, in one of their greenhouses, I admired giant pots of what I took to be a gargantuan variety of unripe grapefruit, Citrus × paradisi. I have since then concluded that they are pomelos, Citrus maxima, or C. grandis.

And indeed, maxima they are, and grandis, too.

Having made that discovery, I've started noticing that pomelos are now being sold at greengrocers around town. Displayed on the fruit stand next to our more familiar paradise, or forbidden, citrus - the grapefruit - the pomelo definitely projects a blowsier appearance, almost twice the size of the former. And indeed one finds that underneath the rind is almost an inch of fleshy white pulpy membrane. In taste, pomelos are a milder version of the grapefruit. If you're one of those who habitually sugar your grapefruit, you may wish to give the pomelo a trial.

And really, looking at the beauties from Longwood, I apologize for even daring to associate the word "blowsy" with them. I suspect that these are the Californian variety, and like many others from that neighborhood, they are spiffier than most. They are lovely. And they are in season now.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Promise

Just a reminder: There is buried treasure under that white stuff. These will be daffodils in a couple of months.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Jewelry of the Winter Garden

In these chilly days of January, one is hit by the idea that the garden produces jewels. And we are not talking metaphorically. We are not referring to the fruits of the vines or the trees in the summer, as in, "oh, what a gem of a tomato this is! Doesn't it look gorgeous?"

No. We're talking about a vibrantly red leaf, say, of the Viburnum bodnantense 'Dawn,' hanging on for dear life on the very end of the twig, gravity exerting its will in the guise of an encrustation of crystal ice.

Or buds of that very same viburnum with a dusting of powder snow, a bit before its fragrant flowers break into full bloom later in the season, in February. If one could pluck the bud, encase the entire bit in a solution of permanent crystal ice to wear as a pendant on a chain, one would have a necklace Tiffany's couldn't manufacture under any circumstance.

Or how can one resist the allure of a spray of the thready flowers of gem-encrusted witch hazel, Hamamelis x intermedia 'Primavera,' pinned to the lapel of an elegant suit jacket? No jewelry store, however classy, can match what the garden has to offer, shown below.

And here's a cluster of diamonds from the air; no carbon mine in the earth can yield this bunch up.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

More Wintry Scenes from Brooklyn

Though one may occasionally detect a slight icy mist around it, the pond is crystal clear these days. Pokey the Turtle has gone to bed beneath the muck in the pond's bottom. The goldfish and koi spend their days moving about languidly. Spears of Juncus effusus 'Spiralis' - corkscrew rush and Iris sibirica are crushed under the weight of the previous days' snowfall, but the pond does not freeze. (And even if it does freeze, my trusty little red pond de-icer will keep an opening in the ice so that the water below the ice will remain oxygenated.)

And elsewhere in the garden, those golden fronds of Amsonia hubrechtii swoon onto the virgin snow, though if one looks more closely, the snow is not quite as maidenly as one might imagine at first light. The birds have already visited.

A few days later, after the rains, the bones of the garden resurface.