As promised last week, I did some reading about Heavenly Bamboo. For starters, there is no relationship with what we know as bamboo. It is from an entirely different family, Nandina domestica. It is very common in the Pacific northwest. The semi-evergreen mid-sized shrub is pink in the spring, light green in the summer with large clusters of white blossoms and a lovely bronze purple with red berries in the fall and early winter. It is considered invasive down south, but worthwhile considering for a shrub border here.
Speaking of worthwhile or downright spectacular, check out the stand of heather peeking up through the snow at David Finkelstein’s office. Anything that blooms in the snow and freezing cold is worth mentioning.
My garden chore this week was trying to remove snow from the roof of my greenhouse. I used a broom and was careful to not puncture the plastic. Once freed, the sheets of snow and ice came loose in huge slabs. I could tell it was very heavy and may have collapsed the hoops if any more snow fell.
Where I grew up in the snow belt, people had tin roofs with very steep pitches for this very problem. I remember houses with snow piled up to the second floor windows. My Dad used to shovel the sidewalk and piled the snow on the sides, way over his head. Good grief! I’m telling my age going back to how it was in the old days. I did not, however, walk miles to school uphill both ways.
I have been applying linseed oil to the tool handles this week. Linseed oil is an interesting product. It has so many properties — as furniture conditioner, as an ingredient in oil paint, used in old-fashioned linoleum and in another form as a food supplement. It comes from the flax seed. Food grade oil is, of course, cold pressed and never to be confused with boiled oil purchased at the hardware store. Oh, by the way, a word to the wise: if you wad the linseed oil-soaked rags into a pile they could spontaneously combust. I remember it happening once in a dumpster outside the Black Dog. I put my used cloths in a metal can before throwing them away.
Flaxseed oil is practically considered a wonderfood. It has plenty of the omega-3 essential fatty acids which are also found in cold water fish. The flaxseed is found in all sorts of bread, crackers and cereals. I always put a cup of the seed into my bread dough.
Now, to get back into the gardening mode. I think it is fitting to follow that seed to its source. The flax plant is an easy-to-grow annual. I’ve done it many times. It has a lovely small blue flower. Historically it goes back some 30,000 years. Its primary use back in the day was in the production of linen. The Puritans brought the plant to the New World. Remember the word “linsey-woolsey?” This was the homespun combination of flax fiber and wool. It was a laborious process to strip and card the fibers into a yarn and then weave into a coarse fabric. Then, of course, the hand-stitching of garments. Wow! The so-called “good ol’ days.”
I have a big box of last year’s seeds. I have been going through them to prevent re-ordering this year. Seed is truly a miracle of life. I have complete confidence that they will sprout and fulfill their destiny. Now, granted, the germination rate may not be as great as the brand new 2013 seed, but will be acceptable. One of the things I did right was keeping those seeds dry. I love when I hear about certain ancient seeds sprouting after a millennium in some pharaoh’s tomb — to wit: Kamut wheat!
Since I am still basking in a patriotic glow from my trip to the inauguration of Barack Obama. I shall spare you my usual political rant. I do have to mention however, our Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Her performance in front of the Congressional committee on the Benghazi incident proves to me that once again, she rocks!