Saturday, June 27, 2009

Quote of the day

Decayed literature makes the best soil

- Henry David Thoreau -
Having been a voracious reader my whole life, my mental compost should by now be a steaming heap of crumbling, dark-brown soil full of nutrients and micro-organisms for something good to grow. Of course, the question is if I have fed it with the right stuff; those organic, well-balanced materials, that with a bit of added moisture disintegrate into a smooth, sweet-smelling humus ready make any plant leap to the skies with joy. Or have I unintended fed it with things difficult to digest, or kept it either too wet or dry? Or maybe, just maybe, I've been too lazy or comfortable to occasionally completely turn it over to give it more oxygen, so that the small aerobes can do their job?
For many, summer is a time of reading; newspapers and magazines drown us in tips about what to take as a companion to the hammock or beach. This year, I will think of my mental compost heap and choose books that complement its balance well; not too wet, so it rottens to a smelly mass, not too acid, so that the heap won't heat and not too dry, so that the whole process looses its momentum. And of course, I will try to turn it properly over sometimes, to let some well-needed air to the heap.

Today, I planted some beautiful Polygonatum x hybridum 'Variegata' that I bought at the Bellevue Botanical Gardens for a couple of days ago. I love their thick, juicy rhizomes with white buds telling in which way the plant is growing. The maroon stems and leaves with white margins are beautiful, too, not to mention the nodding bell-formed flowers that come up early in spring. I had masses of old Polygonatums that had spread themselves between the cliffs in my garden in Saltsjöbaden (not the variegated ones, though), and I enjoyed how they thrived in those hard conditions, shooting up early in the spring and staying around until late autumn.


Karen said...

What a great metaphor for sifting through the stuff we absorb via books or anything else, for that (organic) matter! So fun to see what you can plant now that you have your own patch of soil again. We missed you at the Kruckeberg outing, I know you would have enjoyed it immensely. Can you come to Daniel's on 7/19? Hope to see you then or another time soon! Love the red stem on your new Polygonatum.

The Intercontinental Gardener said...

Thanks, Karen! Summer does not seem to be a great blogging time for me - now that school is off, just keeping the circus going fills the days very well. I would love to come to Daniel's garden and will make a very hard try, but my husband is travelling a lot for the moment and I don't have a good babysitter for the girls... all these practicalities of life; I'm sure I'll miss this when I'm older :-)

Carol said...

Love this post! Brings to mind a wall of books stacked neatly as a stone wall in the woods near a friend's home. Someone had read your quote of the day most likely... so wonderful to happen upon such a wall... i have forgotten all the titles. It is good to turn things over in our minds and gardens ... give them a bit of air.

The Intercontinental Gardener said...

Hmm.. I would love to see that wall of books, sounds very intriguing. I'm sure you will get some airing of thoughts too this summer, in your beautiful garden!