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The “fall of the year,” they call it. Leaves fall, many flowering plants fall, skies fall and daylight falls. I prefer the nomenclature “autumn,” which has a more pleasant resonance. 

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October has been called “the golden month,” and for good reason. When I was outdoors editor here, I always had a column on the benefits of October, with its harvest of early wild game seasons and looking forward to ducks and quail to follow. Then, of course, there was the excellent fall fish…

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The Paris Pessimist Club met in regular session a couple of weeks ago with the full membership present and answering roll call. The main order of business was handling pests in our local gardens. One member said the title of the meeting should be “If it isn’t one thing, it’s another.” Voting…

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Happy Yom Kippur to all today, particularly my Jewish friends. Then too, happy autumnal equinox, next week, to all my friends, Jewish and gentile. 

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Staking, I believe it was. Last week, that is, when we talked something of the onerous task that staking of plants in the garden requires. It is not the physical labor, nor a problem of brain power. Any ordinary person can learn to tie a half-hitch, square knot or even a granny knot when the…

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A marked difference between ordinary ornamental gardens and more notable ones often consists of pleasing plant combinations or the absence thereof. A thought-out combination of rather plebeian plants can come to the fore when used with some thought in their placement. 

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The old dog star, Sirius, creeps back into his doghouse today, officially calling an end to the 40 days since July 3 that are known as dog days in honor of the rising and setting of said dog star. I don’t want to wish my life away, but good riddance. The dog days doldrums in our part of the …

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We said last week, with hope springing eternal, that we might — might — see the turn to fall this month. In some few miracle years it actually does. I can remember going through the early dove hunting season a few — very few — times hardly working up a sweat through the month of September. O…

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Inevitably, every year without fail, there comes a period between cold winter and hot summer, popularly known as spring. It is when fresh new buds flash out on trees, and your garden is unsullied by any semblance of decay and letdown. 

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If there is anyone out there who reads this column, you know it is nothing new for me to dwell on the valuable garden color, bright yellow, and when tinged with green, chartreuse. 

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It is hard to believe the year is more than half over. The sun reached its zenith two days ago and is now sinking, imperceptibly at first, toward its nadir a few days before Christmas. Astronomical summer is here at last and just at the time we are hungry for a colorful explosion in our gardens. 

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Here we are just days from the summer solstice and the longest day of the year, and it is as good a time as any to go over again —  Watering 101.

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As much as I love perennials, I have to admit that for long-term color, annuals have them beat. With annuals, you miss a constantly changing repertoire but the compensation — if it is one — is the more or less endless blare of color the season through. 

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My boyhood — and still — friend Crockett Mathis and I were budding lepidopterists back in the day. After grueling hours of “study” at Atkins-Porter School, we would head north to his home on North Highland Street, tank up on chocolate eclairs or apple pie his mother had crafted, grab our net…

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The merry month of May was my mother’s favorite month. And who isn’t floored by the pleasure this month provides? Perennials are churning steadily into production; annuals, even, are heating up; and  some flowering shrubs and trees are still worth looking at. And, the weather, for the most p…

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We are ensconced deeply now into the month of April, which features April Fool’s Day, Peanut Butter and Jelly Day, and the same month the British often call “the cruelest month.” And for good reason some years. April can be soft as a baby’s behind or, on occasion, vicious as a wolf’s howl. W…

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Our ongoing list of rather underused shrubs and trees has created some discussion and questions on where to get some of them. It takes some searching, I will admit, but sometimes they can be found right under your nose at local garden centers and discount stores. 

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A lot can be said for old tried and true varieties of plants, but I’m not going to say those things today. We will follow up last week’s endeavor on somewhat new and sometimes improved varieties of shrubs and trees that more than pay their rent over a year’s time in your garden. 

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In the 53-plus years of this column’s existence, very few of them have been book reviews. Some outstanding garden books by authors, domestic and abroad, have made the short list. 

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This week, a practical — as opposed to, say, philosophical — rendering. In other words, a how-to reminder of the things you should be doing in your ornamental gardens here in the middle of March. If you escaped the Ides of March two days ago and if  you are not already swamped with spring wo…

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Here we are ensconced into the month of March, known for St. Patrick and Julius Caesar, the late. His assassination occurred on the 15th of that month in 44 B.C. The Romans also set March 15, the Ides date, as a day for people who owed debts to pay them off. I don’t know what the penalty was…

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It is seldom that these words concern, to much degree, the weather. However, if the first week of March, with its ides coming up soon, is not a good time to do so, there never will be one. 

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The Paris Pessimist Club met last week for the February meeting. First on the agenda was a discussion on whether all dark clouds have a silver lining. Or, to put it more realistically, whether all silver linings have a dark cloud. 

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Just inside a new year and we’ve already used our space budget on the horrors of tree topping, so let sleeping dogs lie for the moment. For now, we will take up another horror — horned rats, otherwise known as whitetail deer. Yes, many of my friends and family are ardent deer hunters, and, y…

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Gertrude Jekyll has, no doubt, been mentioned in these garden columns numerous times since the very first one was initiated on Friday, Sept. 6, 1968, by my grandmother, Lucy Cowan Williams. After I took the reins Sept. 7, 1984, the mention might have become more frequent, particularly after …

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You must admit I have laid off talking about the evils of tree topping for quite a long time. Some new readers might have come on to the gardening scene in the meantime, so this is for them, and for others who might have missed my earlier rants on the subject.

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We discussed here last week some plants that offer late fall and winter color. I used one of my borders in our back garden to illustrate the point that winter, including the generally detested month of January, can offer some real gems that stand out in an otherwise brown and gray landscape. 

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In 1956, Jay Livingston and Ray Evans penned the lyrics to a song Doris Day famously recorded: “Que sera, sera — whatever will be will be, the future’s not ours to see. . . . .”  It reached No. 2 on the charts and is still heard now and then when somebody chooses to listen to real music inst…

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Just a couple of adjectives will not suffice, but I am going to use them anyway. The Year of Our Lord 2020 was remarkable and catastrophic. We can all agree, unless you are more than 102 years old, that we’ve never seen another year like this. Way back in 1918 there occurred a pandemic of re…

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Dark December, it has been called, the month with less sunshine and, consequently, less light, than any of the other 11.

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Garden fancy comes and goes, changing about as often as women’s hemlines. It wasn’t so long ago that cannas were relegated to railroad depots and public parks.

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Thanksgiving, the holiday, was first observed by the Plymouth colonists and the Wampanoag Native Americans in 1621. If my third-grade arithmetic is correct, and I believe it is, that was 399 years ago. Since then, the date has been shifted around a few times, but anyhow Thanksgiving in the 2…

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Optimum tree planting time is just around the corner; in fact, it has already rounded the corner and will remain optimum as long as the ground is not frozen.

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Gladys The Famous, aka Gladys the Curmudgeon, said November is the month for elections, because it is the best month to pick a turkey. Then along comes another pessimist, I don’t know who, that said, “Well, it is November, and today someone will die. . . . .” 

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It is a treat for your writer to have the opportunity to write about plants just coming into bloom here in the last full month of astronomical autumn. Though December brings the winter solstice and the beginning of official winter on Dec. 21, November is the last whole month of the fall season. 

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Forget the frosty punkins and shocked corn. James Whitcomb Riley, even, would want us to move on. He, the intrepid author of October’s glories, never wrote about November, as far as I know, but other authors did. The European ones moaned and bawled over the gray curtain of winter that has al…

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It was in the month of October, I believe, when a well known Indian (as in India) mystic decided he wanted to mimic Mahatma Ghandi in his concern for the poor. So, he began praying every day for the less fortunate, and stayed on his knees so long they became calloused over. He went on hunger…

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