Savannah Morning News column, Sunday, April 27, 2014
Let’s start with the bad news and I’m not just talking about the rain though there is nothing more glorious than walking the dogs after the rain has stopped and the sky is blue and everyone – I mean everyone – on the street feels like a million bucks and no where is there a better time to understand the meaning of the word lambent, as in glowing or flickering with a soft radiance, as in the morning after four days of menacing and interminable rain.
No, the bad news I’m talking is the oleanders. They’re back. Drat. I thought the cold temperatures got them for sure. That is one hardy tree.
Back to the good news – the fruit trees. I think the cold weather sharpened them up. They seem to be returning in spades. I’m waiting for the day we can see an abundance of local fruit at the farmers’ markets – pomegranates, oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, blueberries, grapes, figs and pears, so much fruit we won’t know what to do with it all and farmers will have to give it away.
Maybe Savannah Park and Tree can plant some for us. This venerable governmental entity sure hit the ball out of the park (time for a baseball metaphor) with all the Chinese fringe trees planted along Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Those snowy white surreal trees are showstoppers. Go Park and Tree! Maybe you can keep the ball rolling and help us out with a decent bee ordinance so we can all be harvesting some homegrown honey and helping bees do their pollination thing or are we going to just have to continue keeping bees in secret and begging forgiveness instead of asking permission?
And go Chatham County Mosquito Control! Not for the $700,000 it spends each year to dredge containment areas for those dizzying little devils, but for the gambusia or mosquito eating fish, the perfect antidote to a malfunctioning pump or a waterless garden, such as mine on Boundary Street that has to rely on an old canoe – talk about hardy – to capture water. The fish are free for the asking. You just have to call ahead so “Bobby” can retrieve his handheld mesh fishing net, walk out to the pond on the well-manicured property and scoop a bunch out of the pond. It’s amazing how few people avail themselves of this thoughtful and generous offering from the normally parsimonious and cantankerous county coffers. About a dozen a year, I am told. Let’s keep “Bobby” busy.
The building is on Billy Hair drive, near the classy Gulfstream campus and our impressive international airport. (In my part of the world government types wait for people to die before naming streets after them; otherwise it seems a little, well, unseemly, kind of like jumping the gun, but go Billy Hair, who always seems to be running for some office or another).
If you were looking for an optimistic time of year to paw through a motley collection of bags of seeds, to scratch the earth and do a little broadcasting, this would be it. That packet of miniature prairie sunflower seeds? In the ground. Those borage seeds from a thousand years ago? Bingo. The scarlet runner beans? How can they fail they are so big, not unlike a kidney bean. Four precious moonflower seeds someone carefully packed up and deliberately labeled for the plant swap? Sure enough, I soaked them overnight, found a spot where they could climb and poked them in the ground. Even Bob Ketai’s zinnia seeds from Detroit found a spot.
A word of caution: don’t be bamboozled by a rogue squash plant – unless you have an acre or so of land. It’s robust. And unless you know how to bonsai the thing best to move it where it can sprawl and take over some real estate.
Right now the tops of the onions are starting to teeter (which means they’re ready for pulling); the sugar snap peas are finally starting to flower, so the peas are mere days away; the mallow-like leaves of the sorrel seed I planted last week are popping up; the broccoli is still putting out (despite a heck of a year with aphids); the top half of the potatoes are looking good; the amaryllis are going bananas; the precious milkweed is taking hold, and the spiderwort, well, you can’t stop the spiderwort.
Now all I have to do is tend to a “notice to correct conditions” issued by the city’s property maintenance department. The notice said the “littered premises” had to be corrected by Easter Sunday. Here’s hoping they give me a few more days.