Michael A. Dirr is the man to whom we refer concerning all things trees and shrubs. In Dirr’s Hardy Trees and Shrubs, an illustrated encyclopedia, he makes some disparaging remarks about prunus calleryana, the Callery pear. This is the ornamental pear in full bloom right now. It lines Circuit avenue in Oak Bluffs. Down Island Cronig’s has several new ones in the Healthy Additions parking lot. Clough Lane alongside Saint Augustine’s in Vineyard Haven has many that are at least 40 years old. I know because I lived near the town landing of Tashmoo in 1970 when they were newly planted. They not only have impressive spring bloom but the fall color is spectacular. The cultivar “Bradford” was introduced in the early 1960s. Dirr says it is as “common as mud” in landscapes. He says it suffers a fatal genetic flaw that causes it to self-destruct, literally falling apart with time. For short term use it is acceptable but to plant entire streets with this cultivar is playing biological Russian roulette. Be forewarned, Oak Bluffs.
I have noticed several branches splitting on the Clough Lane plantings over the past few years.
Sadly, last dark and stormy Thursday evening an enormous branch split off the beautiful specimen at the First Baptist Church. As luck would have it, I happened along shortly after. The entire street corner was filled with the white blossomed branch. A police car, blue light flashing, was in the middle of it. It was an other-worldly scene. If you will notice, there are a couple other huge branches that I fear will suffer the same fate.
I love when people mention plantings or trees I should notice. Heidi Feldman rang to give me a head’s-up. She wanted me to see the magnolia at the corner of Cooke street and West Tisbury Road. A drive through any of the Edgartown streets can be rewarding. It’s amazing how much can be fit into a tiny yard and still look elegant.
Tulips hate wind followed by rain. Mine are beginning to resemble soiled handkerchiefs. I never have them last as long as I would like.
There is a nice planting of white daffodils with blue grape hyacinths at the end of Circuit avenue.
The newly plowed field at Nip ’n’ Tuck Farm is the picture of hope next to the neatly mulched onions. Wonder who is doing that garden this year?
I left a few Brussels sprouts in the garden from last year. I am hoping they will make some seed. Each little sprout has grown into a separate tall plant. They looked so great, I snapped off several and ate them as I wandered around. They were actually tender and delicious.
For your planting information you will need 10 to 20-foot rows per person for beans, carrots, beets, spinach and turnips, but only one hill each for zucchini, pumpkins and summer squash. In your perfect world one pound of seed potatoes could give you as much as 10 pounds of spuds.
As I write, the incredible bin Laden story is unfolding. You can expect my opinions on the matter next column.
This week, however, I have to talk royal wedding. I loved watching the commercial-free event without a hint of terrorism, tornadoes, uprisings or any of the other bad news. I love the sense of history. I thought the 40-foot trees decorating the Westminster Abbey were particularly lovely. I also was interested in the white floral arrangements behind the altar. The use of Solomon’s Seal was striking.
Being an old hymn fan, I found it curious that the ceremony opened with the congregation singing, Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah. I don’t recall we Americans incorporating hymns into our wedding ceremonies. A nice touch, I thought. Come to find out, it was the song sung at Prince William’s mother’s funeral. Leave it to the British to stand on tradition. I know much cynicism can be expressed about the royals but I, for one, enjoyed the show.