Planets

Yesterday afternoon, the rustle – almost clatter! – of Cottonwood leaves soothed me as I worked in the nursery.  I worked until dark.  That was a worry to PJ, my Springer Spaniel.  She was close on my heels, sitting practically on my feet whenever I stopped.  She knows that night belongs to wild things and she doesn’t want to meet ANY of them!  As I walked across the field to the little cabin that houses my office, I noticed a brilliant star in the east – the planet Jupiter.  This morning I woke to fog on Planet Earth.  I can barely see across to the shoreline where the White Pines grow.

Western White Pine (Pinus monticola) is big; it CAN grow up to 150 feet tall. Evenly spaced whorls of  branches give the tree a majestic symmetry. On my property, it’s growing in the wet fen, but it is commonly found in seemingly opposite conditions, in dry gravelly spots.  A deep, wide root system binds the soil together, making it excellent for erosion control on steep slopes.

Over the last century, we have lost many of our Western White Pines to White Pine Blister Rust, a fungus which requires two different plants to host it in different phases of the disease cycle. The disease  moves back and forth between white pines and species of gooseberries and currants (Ribes species).  The plants that I currently have in the nursery are specially bred to be 90% resistant to this disease.

 Keep your eyes peeled for Jupiter and White Pines.  Enjoy your Planet.

Seeds

I’ve been reading a good book, Gardening with a Wild Heart: Restoring California’s Native Landscapes at Home by Judith Larner Lowry.

Though she works with a different set of landscapes than the landscapes of the maritime northwest, the principles work anywhere.  She strives to reconnect people with the land around them.  Environmental healing depends on that connection.  I think we can take it one step further: that our own mental and physical health depends on our connection to the land, to the earth.  Nurturing native plants in your own garden is one way to reconnect.  We can observe and participate in the natural interactions of the living soil, birds and insects with plants that have been part of their home since time immemorial.

 Lowry writes of plant propagation – planting native plant seeds – as a crucial life-giving work.  I will use her words to encourage myself as I take on the task at Tadpole Haven of sowing seeds for future crops.  My tools and techniques are very low-tech.  The job can be tedious and slow, with no guarantee of success.  Collecting seed is fun – it requires getting out into the great outdoors, often into new territory.  But it is hard for me to stand at a counter and fill flat after flat with the seeds I have gathered.  Lowry reminds me that planting seeds heals, gives life.  By planting, I take a stand in favor of life.