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  •    Celia Landsporth Kenedy (“. . . no, no, no . . . no relation . . . one ‘n’ ”), her children launched and all three married and fecund so that Celia was busy with advice vaguely specific and presents, usually money, that were quite on target, and having buried her husband, Mike, has about her only Gumption, her sweet old Labrador, who she adored, and her incredibly neat garden, which she detested.  “If it were a hairdo, not a strand would be out of place,” she sniffed.

  •    I once knew a woman who lived in a tree. Or just about. Nearly. The house she inherited was beneath a trophy silver maple, the largest such in the entire state, as a matter of fact, dwarfing an otherwise impressive two-story shingled charmer of decent vintage in every way it is possible to dominate, engulf, rule and dwindle the resources of a domicile, and the silence, of course, was stupendous. The light, on the other hand, through each and every window, was unrelenting tree-light, slow movements of varying shadows with, very occasionally, a freckle or two of sunshine.

  •    I do not pick flowers. Unless they are downed by storm or ordinary garden maintenance, not ever. In those infrequent times they will be snipped from stem or branch and floated in a suitable bowl, a most delicate way to admire a bloom or two, a display the Orient arrived at many centuries ago.

  •    July became August when it was but two weeks old. Geese, one heard geese then, probing the air tentatively, like first skaters on a newly frozen pond. The growing year, half a month premature at its advent, has neither slowed nor retreated, remaining precocious.

  •    Green is the A-over of a fine well-orchestrated garden, its most-desired and indispensable cloth-of-gold mantle, indicator of not only the garden’s fundamental health, but the success of its accomplishment as well. If the various shrubberies, trees, and perennials are not displayed to advantage, appropriately and inventively, the garden fails utterly as composition and performance, and ought to return to the very air from which it was carved. If it is to be orchestrate and harmonious, a failure of any part will fray the whole and must promptly be amended.

  •     Fairies, imps, little folk, leprechauns — all the ministrants seen and unseen we will now discuss are not just at the bottom of a fine garden but at its middle and top; indeed, they are all through the plot. They are the makings of a good garden as much as expertise in general and fine compost in particular. They are enormously, energetically busy, as busy as the atom and, of course, equally invisible. It is not necessary to see something to believe in it. Think of odors. Think of music. Think of greed.

  •    I suppose it was inevitable that designers would turn their color wheels for a protracted swim in the garden, but, oh lordy, to have begun on hoses? What in heaven’s name is one to do with an orange hose, a violet hose, one that is royal (what throne, pray?) blue, another lollipop yellow, and many other hideous indiscretions.

  •    Too early, perhaps not too early, perhaps at precisely the appropriate moment, one obviously replete with caution and hesitancy, all houseplants go out for their summer without walls the 24th of May. These include a well-fed and robust datura taking as much nourishment as a bearing tomato and a tibouchina already in bud, a lusty papyrus going into a marble fount, a tub of lemon grass, one black caloeasia. Many agapanthus. Several weeks ago clivia, early because they can take night temperatures of 40, clivia I swear to repot, root trim.

  •     What to do when the indispensable trowel gets lost together with the hand-held shears. One has lost one’s hands, fingers. One is doomed to not garden that day.
    And why has this happened when the trowel and the secateurs are indeed one’s hands, the wrists inutile without them? God help one’s psyche. What ruin and havoc will be next?

  •    There is a quite young magnolia which I planted last year near the south side of the winter house, which is, for the first time, in bloom and going on and on now for well over a month with buds as dark as hushing fingers to the lips and opening to full goblets of a pale, rather run-of-the-mill purple worn by penny-candy balls. It grows with the vitality of a sturdy bush or lowish tree and is branched to the base and already possesses a fine indication of future robust symmetry.