Looking back I can remember that 1975
was a wildflower sort of year.
1980 was a tree sort of year.
1984 was a bird sort of year.
1989 was a mushroom sort of year.
1999 was a fern sort of year.
It’s Oct. 6 as I write this. The first frost hasn’t as yet arrived. But it won’t be long coming. Most gardening resources for Western North Carolina cite on or about Oct. 10 as the average date for a killing frost.
In the June 14, 2004, issue of The New Yorker magazine, there is an essay titled “Blocked! Why Do Writers Stop Writing?” (I can’t find the author’s name in the online edition). Therein one of the Romantic poets, Coleridge, is cited as a prime example of a writer who suffered from that peculiar malady known as “writer’s block”:
I don’t like to talk or write about writing — but when forced to do so by, say, an approaching deadline, I will. I am, in fact, doing so right now. But I’ll be concise: have a beginning, have an ending, and don’t worry about the middle.
“It’s football time in Tennessee!” is what John Ward, the long-time announcer for the University of Tennessee, used to declare when the opening kickoff of the season was airborne.
When it rains it pours. Within the past week or so, I received two emails about plant galls. That’s two more than I’ve received in the past 15 years of writing this column. Here goes.
When my son, now grown, was about 9 or 10, he queried me one summer day about the foamy bubbles in the tall grass of a meadow above the house.
Hog Holler, Hog Branch, Hog Camp Branch, Hog Cane Branch, Hog-eye Branch, Hogback Gap, Hogback Holler, Hogback Knob, Hogback Ridge, Hogback Township, and Hogback Valley in addition to six sites in Western North Carolina named Hogback Mountain. Proof enough, if anyone required it, that hogs have been an essential part of the mountain landscape.
It’s mid-June again … the time of the year when certain plants can be relied upon to do their thing in our yard and on the decks that enclose the house on three sides. Yuccas, oak-leaf hydrangeas, spiderworts, coral vines, various ornamental lilies and roses, and others are in full bloom. But none of these can hold a candle to the trumpet vine.
Certain questions inevitably pop up during plant identification outings. One has to do with whether or not eastern hemlock trees are poisonous.