Gina Hyams Author

Category Archives: gardening

Shaggy Peonies: Pretty Darn Pretty

Fresh from the garden bouquet of peonies on our living room window sill.

Last Glory of the Rhododendrons at Our House

Project Sprout: Year Two (the vision thing)

Project Sprout

Yesterday a postcard arrived from Monument Mountain Regional High School’s Project Sprout. On one side were photos of the kids working in the garden and constructing the farm stand and on the other, the following elegant thank you note. I had nothing to do with any of it beyond being a “garden mom” schlepping Annalena to and fro. Makes me a little weepy to see the summation of all they’ve accomplished this year. These teens are so hardworking and smart. There is hope.

Dear (handwritten names),

The holidays are a chance to reflect on the year. For us this means remembering all of the classes we taught in the garden, from pre-K through 12th grade, and working with a special needs group on a weekly basis throughout the summer in the garden. It also means remembering donating 200 lbs of organic produce a week to people in need around the Berkshires, and working with our food service program to serve our food in the three cafeterias of our district three to four times a week. It means laughing about how nervous we were the first time we presented at another school, and smiling about how many other schools we have inspired since then. But mostly, it means remembering working together, with students, teachers, and community members, to cultivate our 12,000 square foot vegetable garden and heirloom fruit orchard.

The holidays are also about thinking of all the people who lent us a helping hand throughout the year. We know that without your tremendous support, none of what we just mentioned would have been possible. Thank you, and have a great holiday.

Sincerely,

(handwritten signatures of 25 students)

First Blueberries of Summer

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The woods are reclaiming our blueberry patch — ferns suddenly blanketing the ground and overtaking the already-falling down picket fence.  What we think is a gray birch crashed down the other night during a thunderstorm. The ripening blueberries, though, are still within reach.

Lemon Water, Lotusland, Hello

Hello, Imaginary Friends —

As I type this entry, a wildfire rages in Santa Barbara and my thoughts are with Lotusland, an extraordinary garden that seems to be in the fire’s path. I took Dave there for his birthday years ago. It would be sad to lose this historic treasure. If it survives and you haven’t visited, I suggest you book a trip there pronto.

I spent the week at an organic juice purification retreat at Kripalu doing research for an article. I’d never fasted before and it was…challenging. I found that the detoxification process made me queasy (a symptom that, according to the instructor, meant my gallbladder was purging). My sense of smell became so acute, I couldn’t stomach the potassium-rich root vegetable broth or the enzyme-laden green juice spiked with spirulina. Even the ginger tea didn’t sit well. I mostly stuck to lemon water, Emergen-C, and millet. After four days, I emerged radiant, five pounds slimmer, and a little loopy, craving yams and chicken soup.

While the experience was interesting, I can’t imagine wanting to repeat it…except for the lemon water part, which I’ve vowed to keep drinking every day. I’m quite convinced that it, salsa music, and walking Goose in the woods, are key to my mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health.

I hope you all are well. Thanks for stopping by.

Love,
Gina

UPDATE – November 17, 2008
Good news posted on the Lotusland website:

“We are relieved to let you know that Lotusland has survived the devastating Tea fire. We would like to express our most sincere gratitude to the brave firefighters, police, sheriff, and all departments involved in the heroic effort to save lives and property. For further information please check www.montecitofire.com.”

What Sort of Apples Are These?

We have a massive, two-story tall apple tree that’s now loaded with motley, but edible sweet-tart fruit. Do any of you know what sort of apples they are? What might I do with them other than make a 1000 pies?

First Blueberry of Summer

We have six blueberry bushes in one of the long-forsaken garden rooms (there are seven…I’ll write about them another day) and a tangle of raspberries by the barn. Yes, we have a barn…it’s our decaying potential at the moment…actually not decaying, but being eaten by powderpost beetles. We have little money to maintain the property, let alone improve it, so it’s frustrating to have to invest in invisible things like fumigation and cutting down dead trees, but there you have it. I believe the technical term is “homemoaner.” Being house poor is better than being poor poor, but as I just wrote my old friend Beth, it still adds up to broke. Sigh.

The Garden Conservancy's Open Days

This Saturday, June 14 is the Columbia County Open Day. Click here for the schedule. My weekend is looking topsy turvy, but I hope to stop by at least one of the gardens.

Margaret Roach’s New Garden Blog

Thanks to Rural Intelligence for this heads up about Margaret Roach’s new blog, A Way to Garden, about gardening in the Hudson Valley/Berkshires Zone 5B. Margaret is the former editorial director of Martha Stewart Living and her blog looks like it will be a fantastic local resource.

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