Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sometimes a Diversion... just what a gardener needs.

As the active gardening year is winding down (I say "active" gardening year because the fantasy gardening season pf winter is getting ready to begin in Kansas), I had the wonderful opportunity today to see a really exceptional gardening presentation by Kelly D. Norris, of Rainbow Iris Farms. The occasion was the annual Extension Master Gardener continuing education meeting here in Manhattan and Mr. Norris gave the keynote address, titled "Zoneworthy."

Kelly is a young guy, full of vigor and excitement and knowledge, but best of all, a great presenter with lots of beautiful pictures and sarcastic humor thrown in to spice up the lessons.  If fact, he had everything I love to see in a speaker, except maybe a sense of deep cynicism, but since he's young and not a jaded, tenured professor, I guess I can forgive that. 

Being somewhat local to me here in Kansas, from western Iowa, Kelly certainly understood what we go through to garden here in Kansas.  I've taken several lessons and witty comments to heart from his lecture, including:

"Nobody plants something thinking, gee, I wonder what this will look like covered in ice?"  I've never heard a truer statement about Flint Hills gardening, and Kelly accompanied this with a great picture of an ice-covered plant in his own garden.  As shown by the picture of  the ice-covered 'Heritage' English rose on the right, and of my front garden pictured below in December, 2007, I'm right there with him.  It never occurred to me to picture rose hips on 'Heritage' with a half inch of ice on them when I purchased it.

"There are five gardening seasons in the Midwest; spring, summer, fall, winter, and hell.  No, actually there are six; spring, summer, hell, fall, winter, and hell."  The first season of "hell" was defined as being the last week of July and first week of August, and the second the last two weeks of January.  Absolutely an accurate description of my climate, except I'd add that spring and fall are only two weeks long each. As an example, we just went from the 95 range to the 67 high of today in less than two weeks.  Tonight it's supposed to get down to 35 and we've got a chance of frost.

"Grow know-maintenance versus no-maintenance plants."  Kelly's point here was that there is no such thing as a "no maintenance" plant, so we should select plants knowing what their maintenance requirements are and if we can fulfill them in our gardens.

"Stop looking to see if a plant merely survived through a year and stop celebrating when it does."  His point being that we should select plants that not merely survive in our gardens but we should seek out those that THRIVE there.  Zonal denial is not a healthy state of mind for a gardener.

"Take pictures of the same spots in your garden over and over."  Great advice for a guy who likes to take garden photographs anyway.  What better way to see the seasonal progression of our gardens.  I'll start today.

There were lots of others, but that should give you a sampling of the wisdom of a good gardener and a great presentation.  If your garden group needs a speaker, take it from this old Professor who lectures for a living and get Kelly to come down your way.  I'm betting I just saw the guy who will be the next Paul James or P. Allen Smith of gardening circles.  

1 comment:

  1. Great advice! Seek out plants that thrive and take pics on the same spot over and over again. I shall do that.


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