Thursday, December 18, 2008

Xmas Dread

A Plastic Santa Claus at an Undisclosed Location
Winter King Hawthorn at Kingwood Center

During the Christmas holiday madness there is always the faint whisper of tiresome people complaining about, among other things, the proliferation of cheap artificial materials that are so ubiquitous they have actually come to symbolize Christmas decor. This being a garden lifestyle column I can hardly avoid joining those tiresome people. I have come to dread Christmas for many reasons, but certainly the glorification of Chinese molded plastic is one ritual worthy of dread. From a gardening perspective, wouldn't it be more gratifying to grow and harvest natural materials for winter/Christmas decorations instead of buying imported red and green petrochemicals? I offer up two pictures of Christmas decoration for contrast. Guess which I, for one, prefer.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Clothes Make the Gardener (sorta)

If gardening is part of your lifestyle you must like being outside. Although it may seem obvious, having the right clothes to wear can make a huge difference in how enjoyable being outside can be, especially in the rain, snow, or cold. I learned this lesson when I had the good fortune of gardening for an employer who offered a clothing allowance for work cloths. If the clothing allowance was used just for specialty cloths it was sufficient for buying (over the years) the best rain suit, the best coveralls, the best work coat, the best gloves, and etc. I never appreciated how not only bearable but actually pleasant inclement weather can be to work in until I had the right clothing. I even experience a sort of euphoria when I can work comfortably in weather that would normally chase me (and everyone else) inside. I also learned this lesson as a cold weather runner. It is fun and empowering to have just the right equipment to do the job and clothing is part of the equipment. Some of my favorites are my L.L. Bean high-top rubber bottom insulated boots, Helly Hansen rain wear, and Carhartt insulated coveralls. I am still looking for a really good pair of cold weather work gloves.