Urge to Splurge


2.  More fruit trees from St. Lawrence Nurseries.  These people are serious about only selling cold-hardy trees, and that’s important.  I once bought apple trees from a local nursery that wasted 5 years of my precious life languishing.  They were grafted onto a rootstock that wasn’t hardy enough.  St. Lawrence sends great-looking trees that establish quickly.  Anyway, I need some pear trees and another Manchurian apricot or two, plus I’ve decided to stick some low blueberries into my vegetable garden, despite the fact that they are an annoyance on the pH front.

Monet 3. A pair of Monet Arches from Smith & Hawken.  I have three of these in my vegetable garden.  They’re about seven years old and pretty rusted, but I like their look and they are the perfect way to grow pole beans.  I’m a little pole-bean obsessed–so delicious, some of them so pretty (I ordered one with purple flowers and I love Scarlet Runner Bean) that two more arches would be useful.

Buddha 4.  A stone sculpture–a little cheesy is okay, too cheesy is not. I’ve taken all the grass out of my city front yard, and that sea of plants in front of my porch could use something a little more solid for contrast.  This stone buddha to the left, which is being sold on ebay, would really fit the bill.  If only I had the several thousand dollars.

Pizza_oven_2  5.  Just for all the "outdoor room" proponents, an outdoor pizza oven.  I make good pizza.  What I need to make great pizza is a wood-fired oven that hits 800 degrees and cooks a pizza in 8 minutes.

6. A swimming pond at my place in the country.  This is one of the major goals of my life, up there with a book contract and a set of adult dining room chairs.  Of course, I already have a sweet little pond near the road, but it’s only about three feet deep in the middle, which is great for wildlife and gorgeous marginal plants like flag iris, but not so great for swimmers.  My kids always got naked and plunged in anyway–until last summer, when their cousin Jason emerged with a leech on his ankle.  I have the perfect pond site at the back of the house–fed by a little stream, a low, wet spot.  All that’s missing is the cash.

6.  And while I’m dreaming, let’s do one of those chlorine-free swimming pools the New York Times wrote about yesterday in my city yard.  They not only allow for swimming, they also allow for all kinds of beautiful water plants.  Swimming is the only thing I like nearly as much as gardening.  And swimming after gardening–well, that’s the life!


  1. I’m going for a pond, a small urban one. The guy comes tomorrow am–I expect that we will shiver outside for exactly 1.5 minutes and then, over coffee inside, he’ll give me his appallingly high estimate.

    I was hoping to get some summer bulbs in (lily, canna, dahlia). Snow, cut it out!

  2. I have a little plastic pond in my city yard installed by the previous owners. I was dubious when I first saw it. And now, I completely love it–the sound of water really ads something to the garden. And I find sinking a pickerel plant every spring a real thrill.

  3. Your pond is beautiful! I moved onto a property with an existing yet recently dug pond. There is no plant life in it…well, maybe ONE cattail. I would love to encourage it to look like yours. What should I plant around it? PS I also have very little money. 🙂

  4. Betsy, I wish I could take credit, but that’s an inherited landscape, the product of many years of neglect. (It’s a second home. For the sake of sanity, I only do vegetables there, and I only do ornamentals in my city yard.)

    Nonetheless, I think it’s prettier than any garden I’ve made. The flag iris are glorious–like all marginal plants, they’re really agressive and are only stopped by deep water. I wish you lived near me–I’d tell you to come over and dig them to your heart’s content. And in a few years, they’d probably fill in your pond edge.

    The moss-covered little tree is a native blackhaw viburum. I think it adds a shaggy charm to the scene.

    I keep trying to get some astilboides going at the pond’s edge so that there are some big leaves there–but they never seem to take hold.

    In my part of the world, though, there are ponds surrounded by butterbur (petasites)–another big-leafed thing–that look great. Again, this is a really aggressive plant that loves moist soil and just takes over the place. I’m a little scared of it.

    Hardy water lilies are also incredible. If nobody near you has got a pond full of them and is willing to let you dig a few up, you can buy them at nurseries or even at Lowe’s in the spring. They need to go in a sunny spot–they help to keep the water shaded and algae-free–and generally sit in about two feet of water. They don’t do much for a year or two and then they just stretch out and flower and flower.

  5. Regarding the buddha, I found a marble buddha head at a local antique show for $96 because one ear was chipped. I put it on a white pedestal in the middle of my garden (sorry, no picture) and it looks quite nice. I do take it in in the winter, but so far it is weathering quite nicely.
    I googled buddha heads to compare $$ when I bought it, and they are definitely not several thou!!

  6. Want to find a thoroughly fabulous and inexpensive buddha AND have a great time shopping for it ?

    Travel to Bali.
    It’s a win win situation.

    While you’re there you can discover that 99 percent of the rooms are ‘outdoor rooms’.
    And that even the swimming pools come with beds – in the water.

  7. Mary Ann, Fortex and Kentucky Wonder are both great. Much tastier than bush beans, and the plants are ridiculously productive.

    I grew asparagus beans on one of my arches last year. Interesting, with a strange, crisp texture when cooked, but not really tasty enough to repeat.

    This year, I’m trying a bean called Blue Coco just for the purple flowers, and I’m also trying a climbing lima bean for the first time, though it may be hopeless in my short growing season.

    I love Scarlet Runner Bean because it’s so beautiful–brilliant red flowers. And the beans are delicious when they’re picked small. If you let them get too big, though, they get hairy, fibrous, and tough.

    So, the buddha’s overpriced. I’ll keep that in mind. Not that I was about to buy it anyway.

    And Bali sounds ideal, Michelle–though I’m a really lousy napper and would probably never use the floating bed.

  8. I have a good friend who has a business making swimming ponds in Scotland.
    As the temperature rarely gets above 70 in high summer, and that is usually only for a week or so, you would have to be a hardy type to do much swimming. But they look beautiful anyway.

    Last year we had a freakily hot summer – this year his order book is overflowing.

    I find this time of year really bad for splurging – even though I know I can get things cheaper trade, I still bought a deep burgundy clematis when shopping for rhubarb yesterday. I do, for once however, know just where it is going, unlkie the iris which have been hanging about in pots at the back door for 18 months.


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