Thursday, September 17, 2020

Lands Capers

Richard is chairperson of the Elderberry Landscaping Committee. Many community members thoroughly enjoy Richard’s skill in beautifying Elderberry, as well as reading his wonderful reports! 

Here is the latest update from the Landscaping chairperson:

Good morning, Neighbors.

This Saturday we have another opportunity to make Elderberry even more beautiful.

It is working! We are keeping ahead of the weeds and adding opportunities, and nature is responding with blooms and flutterbyes.

The Sneezeweed has arrived and is great! Even the South Quad has a volunteer, which in its lone perch is spectacular.

And we are blessed with displays, on our property and all along the roads, of what Mary B calls Ditch Daisies. They are actually Bidens aristosa. If you aren’t politically inclined or if you have a dog who walks through the flowers after they’ve gone to seed, you can also call them Bearded Beggar Ticks. Meg has a stunning bed in the common ground west of her unit.

Soooo slow, but I believe by the next note, that the augustifolia (swamp sunflowers) will be blooming (finally). They are tall this year, drooping over the pedway and nodding in the heat. But they cannot hold out much longer. The shorter days will force them.

And in yet another note we cannot fail to mention the Scarlet Rose Mallow. It just keeps blooming. Some of those plants must be 8’ tall, and not a marsh in site. Now they even have a response from the Pedway Bed. Wait until next year to see who blooms most. I must admit to cheating. More than 10 have been planted from south quad cuttings in the pedway bed this year.

But we do work for it and several small beds do need attention. Nothing is overrun, so pick a buddy and walk around, look at the raised beds beside the walk from the circle to parking lot, at the river oats bed below the south quad, at the tree plantings, or walk the EB Land bed. Only after the first hour are you allowed to get distracted and sit down and weed and seriously talk.

Speaking of seriously, we have a dead and very likely termite infected tree behind the small pack house. It is only a standing trunk, not small yet easy to bring down. The question is, what do we do with it. Logs on the ground are even more attractive to termites. Cecil has made an excellent point when saying that fires are a part of nature, but if we pile up brush and logs in the woods – that is not. It is dangerous to the forest and to our homes. Some time ago, we decided that periodic burns, if scheduled allowing for short term changes due to weather, were what we wanted. The first notice after that decision met an objection. Since then no one has come forward to manage the fires. We have no burns, that is, so far, no controlled burns. So if we cut the log down – where does it go? Do we hire someone to truck it off to the landfill?

Consider coming to the Landscape Committee Meeting, Monday, September 14 at 4PM. We will talk about all this and anything else. And, please, pay attention to our plants. They are new; everything is changing, and we need to respond.

Good compost to you (it’s available),


Friday, August 21, 2020

The Garden Fable

My son and his family are about to move to Guinea, my daughter-in-law working as a Nurse Practitioner for the US Embassy there. 

Except for COVID19 I would have gone to spend another week with them in Washington DC just before they leave. But since I decided not to go, I was Zooming with my 11 year old granddaughter, Sasha, and we thought we would choose a writing prompt and each write a story. 

She is a pretty good story writer, and I on the other hand, as well as I can remember, have never written a fictional story in my life! We chose the writing prompt “Animal, Vegetable, Mineral” and this is the story I wrote.

I need to also preface the story with some humor that you will not otherwise get because you do not know me well. I am known to be the person who will always say, whenever there is any conflict or some difficulty between people: “This is a perfect opportunity for personal growth!”

I had no idea that my story would be a personal growth story, but when I finished I looked up ”fable” to see if that would be a proper title. I found that a fable has plants, animals, or inanimate objects displaying human abilities and behavior, and sure enough there is always a lesson! 

Here’s my story.


By Vonda Frantz

Morning on the farm started out so peacefully that day, as the sun rose over the fields and pastures. But gradually from the garden you could hear first sighs and low murmurings, and then some quiet crying and complaining, then sobbing and wailing. By the time the mockingbirds noticed the uproar, there was loud yelling, potatoes were hurling themselves at the corn, the corn ears were beating the melons. Melons and squash were spitting seeds at everyone, the jalapeƱos were squirting hot pepper juice everywhere, tears were streaming from the eyes of the potatoes. The mockingbird flew in to sit on the fence, just in time to see rocks being thrown all over the garden, and general vegetable mayhem prevailed.

From up on the fencepost the mockingbird hollered out, “What’s going on down there?” He hollered a couple of times before anyone heard him, and eventually things quieted down and people began to tell him.

The Potatoes: We don’t like it down here in the dark where dirt gets in our eyes.

The Melons: We have to sit here in the dirt all day, but the corn gets to stand up and look around.

The Corn: We get tired of standing up straight all day. We never get to lie down. Its not fair.

The Cucumbers: We’re hanging all day on the vine and we get tired of holding on so tight.

The Beans: We are all mixed up among the leaves here, we’re so little and we can’t see anything.

The Carrots: Its so hard growing deep down in the hard dirt and now I’ve even hit a rock.

The complaints continued on until the mockingbird called out that he had a good idea for them. Finally they settled down to listen. He said, “I think the solution is easy and obvious. Why don’t you just trade places? You could choose what you think is the best place and go there”.

So the potatoes heaved themselves up out of the ground and went to hang on the tomato vines. The melons climbed up the corn stalks and latched on. The corn ears went to lie down in the melon bed. The cucumbers snuggled down in the potato bed. The carrots and eggplants went to hang on the cucumber vines. The mockingbird looked around and saw that he had helped them all solve their problem so he flew on to find other projects. Everyone in the garden was very excited and happy, for a few minutes.

But slowly the sighing and murmuring began. Then the crying and complaining, then the sobbing and wailing, then the yelling, the name-calling and the rock throwing; you could hear the ruckus for miles around. It attracted the attention of some crows who happened to be in the area. 

The crows flew in and sat down on the high deer fence and marveled at the bedlam below. They hollered out, “What’s going on down there anyway?” Now everyone knows that crows are intelligent and wise. So when the garden people finally realized the crows were calling to them, they quieted down and begin to explain.

The Potatoes: We’re really tired of hanging on to these vines here, we’re not used to that. And besides we’re getting sunburned.

The Corn: We don’t like lying here in the dirt; the worms are crawling on us.

The Melons: We aren’t strong enough to hold on to these stalks all day.

The Carrots and Eggplants: We look really nice hanging here on the cucumber vines, but we don’t have a very good grip and we can’t hang on much longer. 

The Cucumbers: We’re down here in the dirt and its dark and chilly; we don’t like it one bit.

So the wisest Crow began to advise. She said to the garden people, “You know, it looks like you’re all trying to be something you are not. We are all unique and we each need to find our way to the best place where we can learn and grow our best unique self. It seems like you haven’t made very good choices for that. I admire you for trying something new and being courageous and willing to make a change—those are very beneficial abilities. But there must be something that will work better for you to be your best selves”.

Even as the wise Crow spoke, the whole garden slowly began to move. Slowly and quietly everyone got up and found a better place to grow.

The Corn: Wow, man! There’s a great view from up here on the big stalks!

The Potatoes: Oh, its so peaceful and cool down here in the dark.

The Melons: We’re so grateful to be resting all day here on the soil among our lovely leaves.

The Cucumbers: We love climbing on these vines here in the sunshine!

The Carrots: I think I can grow around this rock a lot better than I can hang on a vine!

It went on like that until the Eggplants, the Squash, the Beans, the Peppers—everybody had found a better place to grow. In spite of the rough spots, they realized how the whole garden had worked together to work out their problems, how they had listened to wise advice. Happy to have been adventurous and tried something new, they felt they had learned a great lesson: be open to change, find the place where you thrive best, be your best unique self.

The Crows, feeling that their mission was completed, flew on to find their next one, while the sun went down over the once again peaceful farm and the very satisfied garden.