Sunday, September 6, 2009

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary

How does your garden grow? Not very well, is the answer. I have let it go this year, it has been taken over by weeds.

I don't mind this one, because the hummingbirds love it. Unfortunately I haven't been able to catch one on camera, they are too quick. Even more unfortunately, the leaves of this weed show cloration - a characteristic loss of chlorophyll thanks to vehicular emissions that are poisoning it along with every other form of vegetation.

The shriveled leaves of a winter-blooming peach are indicative of the distress it suffers.

The leaves of butterfly bush are exhibiting the same symptoms.

I have several varieties of hydrangea in varying degrees of degradation:

When I was young, there was a very ancient lady who lived in isolation, in a dilapidated Victorian house, across the street from my home. In the back of her land was an even more decrepit shed, which was no doubt structurally unsound, and was swathed with a rampant Concord grape. In the fall, I loved to sneak up the vine and sit on the mossy shake roof, where I would pick the deep purple grapes, squeeze out the tart center, to suck on the sweet nectar that lined the inner part of the skin until it was gone, and then I would spit it out onto the ground below. The thought of that intense scent conjures up so many visceral sensory memories of sparkling autumn skies, the velvet look of the fruit, the ecstatic joy of being alone, hidden, my whereabouts unknown to anyone else, to think about what ever I wanted, surrounded by nature's bounty.

So it was with great anticipation several years ago when I planted a Concord grape to climb my porch, and watched with peaceful happiness as it grew...until this year.

I was back in the city of Brotherly Love sooner than expected, and a brief walk on a lovely bright afternoon on the venerable UPenn campus yielded tree after tree that is miserably compromised.

This next to last picture, believe it or not, is an American Elm. How it survived Dutch Elm Disease when so many tens of thousands did not, I do not know. But it isn't going to survive ozone and peroxyacetyl nitrates, look how thin the crown is. What a loss. I made Sophie stand in front of it so you can click on it to see how impressively enormous it is.

Oh well, I guess the squirrels like this one will have to survive finding garbage to eat instead of nuts from trees.

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