I was going to start this blog in March and my first post was going to be about my visit home for Persian New Year but my old PC crashed right before the trip. I generally only go home for visits to the east coast in July for my birthday or September for my father’s birthday so I had managed to avoid seeing snow for five years.
Every year my father asks “Do you want to come visit for Christmas?” and I answer “Are you crazy?” and then he tries again in March “Do you want to visit for Persian New Year?”.
Persian New Year or Nowruz is on the first day of spring so in the past I’ve always said no. The weather is still pretty dicey in March. I almost gave in last year and at the last minute changed my mind which turned out to be lucky because there was a nor’easter that tore down a blue spruce and other large trees on my fathers property and he also lost power for a week. This year I decided I should visit and pay my respects. Attending a family party at my aunt’s apartment in Manhattan first and then later in the week my father had a big party with around fifty guests.
Of course it is always nice to see my family. My father lives in northern New Jersey, my brother lives in Brooklyn and my sister is currently at the University of Pennsylvania studying to be a veterinarian. I’m the only one on the west coast so I do miss them.
But I also miss my old garden at my dad’s place. It wasn’t my first garden or even my second and it isn’t a particularly great garden. The setting is a busy four lane road in a New Jersey suburb of New York City, the lot is not especially large or attractive, and the materials I used to hardscape were sort of cheap. But it was sort of an experimental playground for me while I was in school studying horticulture and some collections of plants I had held onto from my older gardens. It has suffered a lot of neglect because even while I was living on the east coast I was often too busy with school or away on internships. It is amazing how quickly a garden reverts back to a semi-wild state if you leave it unattended.
The weather was 80 degrees in New Jersey but of course that changed when I arrived. It snowed not once but twice so my five year snow-free record was shattered.
I tried not to let the weather deter me too much and I made it into the Bronx to visit my friends at the New York Botanical Garden despite freezing weather. I went to my old neighborhood in midtown and took the train in from Grand Central so it would be just like the old days.
I did visit the Orchid Show but I am not terribly excited by Orchids so you’ll have to check out some other blog for pictures of that. I did of course pay a visit to the jade vine which is my favorite plant in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory.
It was very cold out but beautiful and sunny so I road around with my friend Jean who I used to work with in Plant Records as she put out plant labels and we gossiped and admired the early spring blooms.
Back home in New Jersey it finally got warm enough for me to tackle some of the woody plants that needed pruning.
Try not to laugh at the horrible pillars. I had a collection of about a hundred Clematis at one point and needed every surface imaginable for them to climb up. In fact some of the shrubs in this border exist for the sole purpose as suport for Clematis.
One regret I have is that I didn’t plant lots of Hellebores in the garden. I’m not really sure why. I think I just never got around to being a Hellebore collector. My focus has always been on late spring and summer plants and I am not a fan of winter but Hellebores definitely make later winter and early spring more tolerable.
One of the coolest plants in the garden is a self sown Euphorbia palustris growing out of the rocks and moss in our ponds waterfall. Palustris is Latin for swampy or marshy and it is living up to its name by growing in a steady stream of water. It is something I couldn’t have planned if I tried but the cool thing about Euphorbias is they are seed flingers so you never know where they might end up.
I’m not sure how much work I want to put into further developing this garden. My father bought an apartment in Manhattan where he will retire in a few years and it is possible that the entire house will be torn down and a McMansion put in its place and most of the gardens replaced with lawns. But I may go back for a visit in September to renovate the big driveway border a little bit. The center of it was taken over by some large weedy clumping grass and once that is removed there will be a lot of empty space. And while I currently do not have a garden of my own it is nice to have one I can visit even if it is on the other side of the country.