Category Archives: nature

Life in gardens: favorite stalk

“What’s not to love about Rhubarb? It’s the easiest thing to grow in Alaska and the moose don’t eat it.”*

Rhubarb in Alaska, ca. 1910, Library of Congress

The leaves are toxic.

Rhubarb stalk in southeastern Alaska,” ca. 1900 and ca. 1925, Frank and Frances Carpenter collection, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Rhubarb is a very popular garden plant in Alaska. “That’s because the few long days of summer sun there help rhubarb grow to five feet or more,” according to The Plate.

Want to know more?  Check out Rhubarb or BUST, a blog all about growing rhubarb in Alaska.

Celebrate bitter things
after long winter
rhubarbs’ red green stalks
and partial sun. . .

—  Sheila Packa, from “Rhubarb

*Renae Wall, from “What’s not to love about rhubarb,” Peninsula Clarion.

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Filed under American gardens, culture and history, life in gardens, nature, plants, vintage landscape, working in the garden

Vintage landscape: repurposed

Formal victory garden, ca. 1918, Library of Congress

World War I victory garden in a formal setting, location unknown,* ca. 1917 – ca. 1920, by Harris & Ewing, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The photo seems to have been taken for the National War Garden Commission, also known as the National Emergency Food Garden Commission.

The organization was created in early 1917 by Charles Lathrop Pack.  It sponsored a campaign of pamphlets, posters, and press releases aimed at “arous[ing] the patriots of America to the importance of putting all idle land to work, to teach them how to do it, and to educate them to conserve by canning and drying all food that they could not use while fresh.”

Like it or not, what you do with the land around your house tells the world what sort of citizen you are.

Abby Adams, The Gardener’s Gripe Book

*Harris & Ewing was located in Washington, D.C.

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Filed under American gardens, culture and history, design, food, garden design, landscape, nature, plants, vintage landscape, Washington, D.C., gardens

The Sunday porch: postcard

The Sunday porch:enclos*ure, from the Post card collection of Miami Univerisity“Sitting on the Porch,” a postcard from ca. 1900, location and photographer unknown, via Miami University Libraries Commons on flickr.

(Click on the photo for a better look.)

The Bowden Postcard Collection of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, holds over 480,000 postcards from nearly everywhere in the early 20th century world.

This image is not very seasonal, I must admit.  Here in Stuttgart, we woke up this morning to a light covering of snow.

Children picking up our bones
Will never know that these were once
As quick as foxes on the hill. . .

And least will guess that with our bones
We left much more, left what still is
The look of things, left what we felt

At what we saw. . . .

Wallace Stevens, from “A Postcard from the Volcano


Filed under American gardens, architecture, design, garden design, life in gardens, nature, plants, The Sunday porch, vintage landscape

Wordless Wednesday: local color

22Hohenheim botanical garden, Nov. 1,enclos*ure

The Botanical Garden of the University of Hohenheim — once the 18th century “English Garden” of Hohenheim Palace — in Stuttgart, on November 1.

The Hohenheim Palace botanical gardens, November 1, 2015, by enclos*ure

The Hohenheim Palace botanical gardens, November 1, 2015, by enclos*ure
Click on any thumbnail in the gallery below.


Filed under design, garden design, German gardens, landscape, nature, plants, travel

Streifzug 7: Filderkraut festival

I’m sorry there was no Sunday porch yesterday. . .

8 Cabbage Fest, enclos*ure

I was at the 37th annual Filderkraut-Fest in Leinfelden-Echterdingen, a town near the Stuttgart airport.

There are very few weekends in the Stuttgart area without a local fest celebrating some aspect of the season.  Since the end of summer, we have celebrated the wine harvest, the potato harvest, the pumpkin harvest, and now that of the Filderkraut.

This very fine variety of cabbage has a distinctive pointy shape.*  It grows particularly well in the rich loess-loam of the Filder plateau, which surrounds the airport.

7 Cabbage Fest, enclos*ure

The fest was opened on Saturday by Mayor Roland Klenk, who tapped the first keg and, after about 40 taps, sprayed onlookers with beer.  “That’s not my core competency,” he reportedly said.

Tapping the first keg seems to be the German equivalent of throwing out the first ball in the U.S. — an honor fraught with peril for a politician.

9 Cabbage Fest, enclos*ure

This was not an easy year for cabbage growers, according to an article in the Stuttgarter Nachrichten.  It was too hot and dry, and the heads were smaller than usual.

10 Cabbage Fest, enclos*ureAbove: “Kizele’s cabbage display.”

3 Cabbage Fest, enclos*ure

4 Cabbage Fest, enclos*ureAbove: whole heads of fermented cabbages on the table.  Note her hat.

15 Cabbage Fest, enclos*ure

14 Cabbage Fest, enclos*ureAbove: tubs of sauerkraut to take home.

22 Cabbage Fest, enclos*ureAbove: a display of bread and cabbage.

23 Cabbage Fest, enclos*ureAbove: the Rathaus or town hall of Echterdingen.

25 Cabbage Fest, enclos*ureAbove: a cabbage shredding race on the stage.

20 Cabbage Fest, enclos*ureAbove: a children’s activity booth in front of the town’s museum.

12 Cabbage Fest, enclos*ureAbove: “Pretty cabbage heads.”

19 Cabbage Fest, enclos*ureAbove: my lunch, sauerkraut and potato dumplings (like gnocchi).

By the way, now is the time in Stuttgart to eat Zwiebelkuchen (bacon and onion flan) with Neuer Sußer or new wine — newly fermented grape juice.

Streifzug means ‘foray,’ ‘ brief survey,’ or ‘ramble.’

*I mentioned this fest to my mother, and she remembered that, back in Texas, my great-grandmother always told her that cabbages with pointed heads were the best. I don’t think I’d ever seen any until this August.

the moon moves over
the field of dark cabbage and an
exchange fills
all veins.

Jonathan Williams, from “Two Pastorals for Samuel Palmer at Shoreham, Kent”


Filed under culture and history, food, German gardens, nature, plants, travel, working in the garden