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Report From PIA – March 17

My mother has always said that peas should be planted on Saint Patrick’s Day. Usually I scoff at this notion, but today I actually considered it. It was one of those March days that makes you think spring is here…a total illusion, as in this region we know that sometimes the weather in March is better than April. On this day in March I can imagine and pretend that spring is here.

Despite my head cold, I started clearing out some of the gardens this afternoon. It’s always interesting to see which perennials are poking up eagerly (daylilies) and which ones (hosta) show no sign of breaking dormancy at all.

Daylilies are clearly able to withstand the temperature swings that the rest of March, April and early May will bring. Hostas, not so much.

I thought about this when I came inside to prepare for my talk in Falmouth tomorrow night. The title of this presentation is Becoming Better Gardeners, and one of the points I make is that good gardeners don’t just look, they see. Watching what is occurring in our landscapes, and thinking about why it’s happening, deepens our awareness of our surroundings and improves our ability to cultivate beautiful gardens.

Where else in life could looking and thinking more deeply lead us to a greater understanding of what’s really going on?

When the rhody leaves are curled in the winter, we know it's because it's cold outside. When the rhody leaves are curled in the summer, the plant is dry. When we think about it, both situations are about water conservation. In the winter the plant needs to conserve water because the ground is frozen and the plant can't take up any more to replace what is lost through the leaves, so the leaves curl to prevent too much water loss. In the summer, the same thing, only the roots can't take up the water because the soil is dry.

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