Garden 'siteseeing' in New England

Every week we like to go garden visiting via Web, to see what's going on with gardeners in other parts of the US and the world. Today we're in New England -- Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont, where fall is definitely in the air.

If you're an animal lover, you know that pets often enjoy the garden as much as humans do. Not too many dogs grow vegetables, though. An exception is Skippy, a handsome 3-year-old Portugese water dog who lives near Boston and thinks that Kathy's vegetable garden is really his.

Actually, Skippy's Vegetable Garden is now two -- a small, often-too-shady plot at home and a new, sunnier spot at a community garden. He and Kathy count down to the first frost, enjoy harvests of fresh shell beans, picking basil and make pesto, and in general enjoy vegetable gardens that are apprecaited as much for their attractiveness as for their yield.

No word on what Skippy's favorite veggie is. His favorite activity, though, seems to be running through fall fields awash in the last wild blooms of the season.

The Constant Gardener is Tom Atwell, a staff writer for the Portland Pres Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. He gardens with his wife, Nancy. His gardening goal, he says, is "to have continuous compost from his three compost bins, continuous bloom in his low-maintenance garden, and more fruits and vegetables on his family table than the garden pests eat in the field." Sounds like a plan to me.

Only the three most recent blogs are posted on the main page, so if you want to read more, you have to scroll down to the archives. I wish he wrote more than once a week.

In Marshfield, Vt., George Africa is skirting the end of the gardening season, noting that temperatures have plunged to just above freezing at least once.  The Vermont Gardener talks about "hardy plants for hardy Vermonters and their friends." That often means passing along information about plants that are reliably hard in Zone 4. ('Lucifer' Crocosmia is one, he noted recently.)

It was enjoyable to tag along on a visit to the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge in Wells, Maine. I think I definitely would enjoy it in person.

Mr. Africa also writes at Vermont Gardens, where he expanded on his visit by describing an encounter he had there with the same man several years running. It's always interesting how such seemingly random encounters can change us in small or big ways.

Bosky Dell Farm is one Vermont family's effort to live a sustainable lifestyle. They grow fruits, vegetables, chickens (for eggs), bees, and four miniature cows. At the moment they're in the eaqrly days of a "localvore" challenge, seeing if they're able to eat homegrown or local food and nothing else.

So far they've been amazingly successful. No word from the three teens in the family about what they might  be longing for other than local cheeses, apples from a nearby orchard, and milk from their own cow. Sounds delish, doesn't it?

Sometimes visits to other gardeners fills you with joy and sometimes you may feel a bit envious. But often, I find, I get a bit hungry, too. Maybe it's time for those cherry tomatoes waiting to be picked outside my back door. Not quite as appealing as Vermont cheese, but they couldn't be more local.

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