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Peril to the Periwinkles! Gardening Books

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Pervinca vulgaris, latifolia, flore cæruleo = Vinca-pervinca = Pervenche. [Vinca minor or Periwinkle], Digital ID 1125022, New York Public LibraryPervinca vulgaris, latifolia, flore cæruleo = Vinca-pervinca = Pervenche. [Vinca minor or Periwinkle], Digital ID 1125022, New York Public LibraryMost of us, consciously or unconsciously, harbor notions of affiliation. For example, many presume that an individual who is a talented artist in terms of painting will be adept at selecting wallpaper borders that are flattering to the relevant room's basic décor. And, of course, most people logically presume that an entity who cooks a delectable turkey on Thanksgiving should be able to season and bake a tasty chicken. So, it is without negative judgment that I listened to a friend's entreaty for my assistance with planting bulbs in her garden this March.

Cynthia and I became friends during my solitary, unsuccessful effort to learn the Macarena. (I was still in my 20s and had not yet accepted the indisputable truth that my hips are surely hermetically sealed with my torso!) Cynthia was sufficiently kind to escort me past the amassing line of those awaiting their turn to learn the aforementioned dance, many of whom were honestly inquiring, "Hey, where'd you learn that move? Is that some sort of new dance step?" I was too breathless to inform those posing queries that my shuffled gait and swinging right arm stemmed from a charley horse in the former and a torn tendon in the latter.

"You're the most doting aunt I ever encountered, and you sure love your pets! You must be nurturing with plants as well!" My nearly uncontrolled laughter filled the phone lines. Wiping tears from my eyes, I stated, "Cynthia, while I value your judgment in many matters, your confidence in my ability to cultivate plants is unfounded and very much misinformed." After fielding a note of dissent from Cynthia, I asked her, "Why do you believe the produce clerk tosses a tarp over the heads of lettuce every time I commence walking down the produce aisle? Because my presence causes the lettuce to wilt!" Cynthia was silent for a moment, then chuckled. "Oh, c'mon! Now that you mention it, that produce clerk does move rather quickly in seizing the tarp and hurling same upon the lettuce as you turn the wheels of the shopping cart down the produce aisle, but surely it is a coincidence!" After several further attempts to convince Cynthia that a gardening spade in my hands constitutes a lethal weapon for all matters of vegetation, I agreed to meet her at her home the following Saturday to assist with her gardening. After all, I do love the Spring! Maybe my spate of bad luck with gardening had altered for the better.

Cynthia started out by handing me a packet of seeds and asking me to carry some out to her backyard. I didn't notice the packet was open, so when I tripped over Cynthia's husband's armchair, I inadvertently sprinkled cactus seeds all over his chair. Cynthia remained undaunted, chuckling that her husband would need to be careful for the next few months if they hoped to start a biological family one day. Next, I grabbed the wheelbarrow containing the fresh soil that Cynthia needed and proceeded to toss same on the ground. Feeling rather proud of myself, I pointed out my achievement to Cynthia. It may have been my imagination, but she seemed to turn a trifle crimson as she informed me that I had just provided her detested neighbor with some fine quality mulch. Feeling chagrined but still determined to salvage the situation, I endeavored, with zeal, to plant a rosebush. Imagine my surprise when I inadvertently severed Cynthia's septic tank pipe with the gardening trowel!

Making seed drills., Digital ID 1603166, New York Public LibraryMaking seed drills., Digital ID 1603166, New York Public Library

Our friendship has somehow miraculously survived (the inchoate rosebush didn't), but the last I heard, Cynthia and her husband were cementing their entire backyard (and purchasing a new armchair)! For those of you with better gardening aptitude than I possess (real-speak translation: virtually everyone!),  The New York Public Library's circulating collection contains a literal plethora of materials concerning gardening. Some of the materials focus on traditional forms of vegetation (such as roses), while others emphasize the relatively modern trend of "green" and "organic" gardening. There are also information-rich books on composting. Additionally, many of vegetable gardening books provide economically advantageous, creative guides on how to supply one's family with palatable, salubrious vegetables.

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