A single batch of daffodils, in a tight cluster near the sun porch in my backyard, is almost in bloom. They seem to be saying “thank goodness” for this week’s sun and warmth. Before long, I will see which other plants survived the long, cold winter (and survived the ravages of the famished deer).
The daffodils were planted by my friend Victor one fall day many years ago. He had ordered too many bulbs and, without so much as a how-de-do, came over to put the extras in the ground as a gift. I looked out the window one morning to see him digging away.
The daffodils spread good cheer this week, as I help get The Star’s annual gardening supplement ready for publication (it will be out in two weeks). Many of us seem to be making an especially big fuss of these first flowers of spring. Everyone is talking about the snowdrops and crocuses and narcissus. I suspect we all feared they would never come.
This year, the gardening supplement will have what might be said to be an environmentally correct cast. Rather than one of her popular and expert pieces on the finest, and sometimes the newest, varieties of flowers, bushes, and trees, The Star’s own garden writer, Abby Jane Brody, is waxing a bit philosophical with an essay on gardens that are personal rather than trendy. Susan Seidman, one of the mainstays of the Horticultural Alliance of the Hamptons, has written an elegy for a sourwood tree that graced her front lawn. And Christopher Chapin has contributed an homage to the late Jim Jeffreys and the startling camellias in his small village garden.
Most of us know that honeybees are in decline (suffering what is known as colony-collapse disorder) and one of the South Fork’s busiest beekeepers, Mary Woltz, wants us to do something about it. The title of the piece she has written is “Cherish the Dandelions.” Evan Harris, who often freelances for The Star, describes the double wood fences her husband has built to keep the deer out of his backyard garden. (No eight-foot high wire mesh for them.)
The supplement also introduces readers to Edwina Von Gal’s Perfect Earth Project. Ms. Von Gal has rededicated herself after years of high-end landscape design here and in Panama to what she calls the cultural landscape — lawns and landscapes free of toxins, safe for children and pets as well as the rest of us.
And of course no Star supplement would be complete without Durell Godfrey’s photographs throughout, including some from the simple to the extreme, that she has so cleverly scouted in local shops.
Lord knows, the South Fork is full of amazing gardens created by some of the most well-known landscape designers. House and garden tours are incredibly popular during the season, as homeowners open their gates for good causes and let the rest of us in for a few peeks at what talent and hard work, not to mention money, can achieve. Perhaps next year we will venture into a few of these exalted bowers. This time, however, the Garden Book is staying down to earth.