Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Fall flowers and garden myths; ragweed & goldenrod

Today, armed with camera, I thought I would find inspiration for my next philosophical meandering. I found, however, the simple joy of a late summer day, perhaps the last truly warm day of the season. As I walked through the flowers looking for something unusual to photograph, I overheard a conversation between two customers, which got my attention. As they came around a corner and spied the Solidago “Nag’s Head’, I heard one say to the other, “Oh no they are selling ragweed!” Quickly, they backed away reaching for modern medications and somewhat pleased that they had identified the enemy.

Too bad that they, like many before them confused the two plants, goldenrod pictured on th right with ragweed on th left. As I do a web search, on ragweed, I am stunned to see what I think is goldenrod. How quickly we look to assign absolute blame without first asking some general questions abou the source and authority.

So I meandered on. I was encouraged by staff to feature Prunus subhirtella ‘Autumnalis’, the Higan cherry, as a wonderful all year interest tree for me to promote. A small alert signal went off in the corner of my mind. Where did I put the notes concerning this species invading the Potomac gorge? A quick check of one page on the internet, - and three seconds (most certainly not definitive) -, yielded a mostly all clear from the experts, and a cautionary note from a business. Nope, I needed to find out more about this before I wandered off target, and committed the sin of the second paragraph above.

And then I saw the mums, asters and pansies. For an overwhelming sight-sensation, the intense concentrations of color produced by these plants are stunning. Not so long ago, these plants were everywhere in commercial and private landscapes. Now, the idea that one might plant something for a moment’s enjoyment has receded. Today we plant for instant long-term results with minimal effort. But I take pleasure in the knowledge that gardening runs in cycles and someday we will return to planters’ paradise.

So on to home, and a quick stop at what we called when I was growing up, the government farm, BARC. When the light is just right, Walnut Grange , situated on a hill overlooking the research fields, can make one forget that he or she is right in the middle of the Baltimore-Washington metropolis. Built in the early 19th century, its semicircular bays gave rise to the name, the butterfly house. A little research and I find that even as a historical preservation commissioner, I cannot get exact information, as my county resource list says the house was built in 1805, but the United States government says 1790’s.

Well, maybe I was being a bit hard on the shoppers. Seems trying to get the facts is not easy. Sometimes we need to take a breather from our strongly held positions, and smell the roses before winter comes.

1 comment:

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Today, armed with camera, You thought You would find inspiration for Your next philosophical meandering. You found, however, the simple joy of a late summer day, perhaps the last truly warm day of the season.