Friday, October 31, 2014

Not Your Average Garden Club Meeting

A visitor from Sleepy Hollow
I've talked about about my garden club, the "Night Bloomers," before.  We are a collection of individuals who gather, once a month at a members home, to share our garden experiences, knowledge and tips, and many of us belong to other gardening/nature organizations that also contribute in expanding our gardening horizons.  We are not a rag-tag organization, nor are we a "fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants" group.  However, I would not classify us as one your textbook, "white glove society" garden clubs, with lots of rules and bylaws either, as rules and bylaws are virtually unheard of in this particular group.

I think this is their landscape designer and his assistant.  Certainly not a landscape architect, as he would have white hair and his assistant would be truly angelic.
A couple of neighbors floating by.
We are basically normal, everyday people concerned about our herbs and vegetables and flowers. That is, until the month of October rolls around on the calender and we meet at Night Bloomer member Susan's home--in the early evening--presumably before all of the "ghosties" and "ghoolies" come out to do a bit of weeding, hoeing and reaping of their own.

Susan with her husband, Richard, a.k.a. Egor and Morticia.
One of the guests brought his version of pumpkin pie, a la EEK!
Family pets, Jack and Russell, greet visitors as they enter the cemetery--I mean property.
This is the garden club meeting where gardening concerns take  a different turn and Susan's home and yard, which is usually brimming with colorful flowers and foliage, sophisticated statuary (from Blooming Hill, of course) and neatly sculpted rock-lined paths through trees with bowing branches turns into a scene from the Amityville Horror Movie. Did I mention that Susan and her husband, Richard, are members of the Amityville Horror Society???  They really are lovely people, you know.

She gives a whole new meaning to the term "Ginger".
Anyway, the Night Bloomers met for our annual scary October meeting, last night, at Susan's aptly appointed Halloween home where she and Richard will meet and greet friends and trick-or-treaters from around the neighborhood. If you ask me, all they need is a little thunder and lightening and they can call the place "Pet Cemetery."

Dorothy and the flying monkeys aren't anywhere to be seen.  Can you blame them???
This "neighbor" asked for a ride home last night but I said I didn't have room in the car--I hate lying, although it is a Mini Cooper.
As informative, and enjoyable as the evening was at Susan' home, by the end of the Night Bloomer's meeting, when the really dark shadows reveal themselves, I always make sure I walk out through the gardens with everyone else, get in my car, lock the doors and speed off before any witch or skeleton has a chance to bum a ride home with me.  Then I hum Christmas Carols the entire way back to my house as it helps take my mind off of the macabre evening I just sat through.

A couple more of the "neighbors" were out for their evening stroll as I was walking into the garden club meeting. I was just praying that they weren't going to ask me any questions about lavender or when the shop at Blooming Hill is open.
Can't wait to see what you have planned for next year, Susan and Richard!  Until then...
It's a yearly tradition that I've come to look forward to as Susan and Richard's Halloween home is happily occupied by two generous spirits who play along to the holiday and are unafraid to share their sense of humor and good will with their friends at a "not-your-average" garden club meeting, and beyond.  Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Pumpkin Love

Henry David Thoreau once said about pumpkins, "I'd rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself than be crowded on a velvet cushion." That may also be true for any one of us, as our love affair with pumpkins seems to grow out of dark, spooky nights, ancient legends and fairy tales that end in "and they lived happily ever-after..."

The colors of the season mirror the colors of pumpkins.
Whether they are meticulously handmade or mysteriously rise out of a corner patch in the garden, pumpkins and even misshapen gourds steel our hearts during this picture-perfect season of brilliant reds, glorious yellows and burnished browns, all wrapped up in breezy blue autumn skies.
Yet, bright orange and creamy white globes coupled with silvery green stems can take our breath away in the stillness of a starry night or even a crystal-clear day, conjuring up images of cackling witches, black cats and ghosts swirling around haunted houses.

The pumpkin has been around for thousands of years and is thought to be a native of Central America, bringing with it a rich heritage, not only to the legends of Halloween throughout the world, but also to the tradition of Thanksgiving here in America, both in decoration and nutrition. Pumpkins were present, if not at the first Thanksgiving between the Indians and pilgrims, but definitely documented at their Thanksgiving meal, the following year.  Since then, pumpkins have graced just about every Thanksgiving table, in some shape or form, throughout America ever since.

 "For pottage and puddings and custards and pies 
Our pumpkins and parsnips are common supplies, 
We have pumpkins at morning and pumpkins at noon, 
If it were not for pumpkins, we should be undoon." (Pilgrim verse, circa 1633)
I'm really glad that hairdressers today do not make a habit out of using pumpkin shells as a guide for cutting hair!
In the early colonies pumpkin shells were also commonly used as a template for haircuts to ensure a round and uniform finished cut. As a result of this New Englanders were sometimes nicknamed "pumpkinheads".

Rich in antioxidants, pumpkin extracts have been used for medicinal purposes, too.  Long ago, pumpkin was thought to help erase freckles and cure snake bites. Traditionally, pumpkin is used in treating bladder irritations, kidney infections and intestinal worms while the seeds of pumpkins are believed to have properties that can effectively aid in avoiding and/or treating prostate cancer.

A little pumpkin wisdom from the late 1800's described this member of the squash family as "usually very large and of considerable weight. It is sometimes said of a very stout person, that he resembles a pumpkin. The comparison is vulgar, and cannot fail to be taken as an affront." That being said, I would also add that there are indeed some pumpkins out there that only a mother could love. However, the charm and whimsy of any pumpkin is something to be cherished by all of us as they often hold snapshots in our hearts of colorful memories, happy thoughts and good times.