By Lynne Irons>

Roger Spinney shared a wonderful concept with the Baptists last week. The word humility comes from the Greek for humus. Talk about being grounded. What better way than to get our hands into some soil.

I have to go back to the sugar maples. This, I believe, is the third time I have mentioned them. There was a segment on NPR about them that caught my ear. They have evidence that the sugar maple has been used by humans for 8,000 years. Some in northern New England are four feet around. I planted a tiny stick 30 years ago which is over a foot around and at least 30 feet tall. It is a lovely peachy, apricot, cremesicle color right now.

The maple is used not only for syrup but for its beautiful white hard wood. It is a favorite for bowling lanes, butcher blocks and squash courts. There are some in Vermont over 200 years old.

In the past 20 years they have been experiencing climatic stress. Experts can track this stress by the sap-to-syrup ratio. It is simply not cold enough for them in New England. They will be moving to Canada.

This is pure, unadulterated rumor but I heard years ago that there is an ancient law on the books in Vermont. If you plant a sugar maple on someone else’s land it will, of course, still be their land but it will be your tree. Their children can tap that tree but so can yours. I hope this is true — I love that!

Oh, a sentence was omitted in last week’s column. I was talking about the classic zinnia being the genetic grandparents of the common zinnia not the various kinds of salvia.

I am resisting the temptation to invite the impatiens and the green pepper plants into the house for the winter. I try it, endlessly hopeful, every year and it never works. I end up with white fly by Christmas. The peppers are the worst. They promise success for a month or so. The impatiens have the decency to look terrible by Thanksgiving so can be tossed with the inevitable “never again.”

I planted some viburnums last week and was able to separate a few stems that had formed roots. I hope I will end up with a couple of baby plants in the spring. I have had good luck reproducing both hydrangeas and rhododendrons. I place a rock on a stem and where the stem touches the ground it will root and then can be cut the following year. Time is money. Those bushes are pricey at the nurseries. Gardening is all about patience. I guess this is true of life in general. I was not blessed with that admirable character trait but have developed some over the years in the gardening world. Wish it would carry over into my driving here on the Vineyard in the summer.

The snapdragons are particularly lovely now. I cut all the dead and dying way down into the foliage about a month ago and they came back like gangbusters. I wasn’t fond of them this summer when they were very straggly.

Snaps are difficult, at best, but I started them from seed and, for once, I did keep pinching them back. They went into the ground nice and compact but then suffered from benign neglect, i.e. they got a couple of sips of water in August. I have had them winter over and look great the following spring. I often wonder how florists manage to have such wonderful straight stems on their snapdragons.

I saw a wonderful card on the dashboard of a parked car. It was a quote by Sigmund Freud, of all people: “Everywhere I go I find a poet has been there before me.”