A GROWING CONCERN: Ask not what your garden can do for you

AS OUR NATION finishes celebrating its Independence Day, I also reflect on history this week.

Today marks the beginning of my 28th year writing and pontificating for the Peninsula’s many fine gardeners. That relates to the span of seven presidents, and I have accomplished my goals or set in motion many long-term benefits for the community.

Well, being the political junkie that I am, my mind began to grow ideas as fast as weeds in your lawn. I haven’t been impeached or censored, nor has talk evolved around replacing my weekly ramblings.

That itself elevates me above some very recent Commanders-in-Chief. In fact, I even got a few stipend increases.

So if the paper is my Congress, then they are giving me what I want: Continued column space (more B2 page color availability would be great!)

As far as my constituency goes, it’s been pretty rosy. In all the years writing on these pages, I have only received five critical letters, and one dealt with my use of the word “hack” when explaining pruning techniques.

The alarmed citizen vehemently opposed that word to describe the procedures relating to pruning; but having observed most plant trimming around the Olympics, I was merely trying to use language my fellow gardeners could connect with.

To be honest, it has been a multitude of praises, garden questions and sincere expressions of thanks that have been far more satisfying than the paycheck or fame.

Be it standing in the Safeway line, gassing up my car, walking the Waterfront Trail, shopping or playing with my two male bear cubs at the Dream Playground when they were young — folks are always coming up to me and thanking me for something or asking a troubling question.

They often relate a story about how they could not believe something I wrote, tried it and then were delighted with the results (often relating to hacking down one of their plants).

As for thanking me, that’s the one area I feel troubled, because what I do is small compared to what you, the public, do collectively on the Peninsula. We are a very giving community. The number of flowers and gardens you plant, and the plant clubs you form and the pride you have in your yards, far outshadows the minor work I accomplish.

And as I look at our plant paradise here on the Peninsula, it is easy to be jazzed up by how great our gardeners are.

It is hard not to plagiarize the fine array of gardening examples I see daily. So thanking me for all the flower work is a little disingenuous.

Dahlias — my favorite

Thank the city of Forks for getting the dahlia thing (my favorite plant by far) going.

The great baskets in Sequim are the fine work of FFA classes with the beautiful flower beds around town as well.

The efforts of the Port Angeles Parks and Recreation Department made the city planters radiant.

Port Townsend has a plethora of clubs and organizations that keep parks and welcome planters in a dazzling display of horticultural wonder.

And thank you, reader, for filling in all the spaces between with your beautiful yards and baskets.

If I have a function or a bit of a legacy to leave (hopefully after another 28 years of writing), let it be as a cheerleader getting all folks, from every walk of life and all our communities fired up about gardening.

I do dream of Flower Peninsula, USA, established right here on the Olympic Peninsula because of how perfect our weather is here for the average gardener to succeed.

Our climate is forgiving and can host the widest range of plant selection in the country (world) from tropical to alpine and desert to tundra-dwelling selections. It could be easy to become Flower Peninsula, USA.

So in closing, I will lay out my five-step process to Flower Peninsula, USA, that, through all of your collective efforts, will have beauty surrounding us 365 days a year.

1. Buy now and plant in October lots of spring bulbs from species crocus to late blooming tulips and allium, for this is the best area in the world to grow them.

2. Plant dahlias, dozens of dahlias. No plant gives you more beautiful flowers, and they look the best in September and October when your garden needs the help.

3. Plant each year a fall foliage tree or bush, and there, too, every year, select a different early color, size of plant, time it changes color and every different shade or hue you can find.

4. Hang holiday lights and create light sculptures. We do dark here in the winter like no one else. Use it to dazzle the neighborhood.

5. Display baskets, containers and flower pots. If just 60 percent of all homes and businesses have a blooming container out front, then we will instantly become Flower Peninsula, USA!

Thank you and please … Stay well all!


Andrew May is a freelance writer and ornamental horticulturist who dreams of having Clallam and Jefferson counties nationally recognized as “Flower Peninsula USA.” Send him questions c/o Peninsula Daily News, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362, or email news@peninsuladailynews.com (subject line: Andrew May).

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