Dispatch from the Arboretum

I spent the morning digging up a plot to put in a dozen raspberry canes I was given. They’re going squeezed into between some daylilies and a rosebush, crammed, of course, far too closely together. Someday I’ll be able to afford “a bit of earth” of my own and the ark-arboreteum, and the rosebushes and grapes and perennials that are equally cramped and jammed in along edges of this rented town yard, will be free.

Someday ...


They’ll stretch their roots (ruthlessly pruned with a spade now and then, in the case of the oaks, lindens, basswoods, and apples, dwarfed by competition, in the case of everything else, though I fear the Beta grape has reached out under half the yard, judging by its ability to surge up to the eaves every summer), and heave a sigh of relief, and reach for the sky. Then, at last, they’ll be able to get down to the real business of being trees and roses and old-fashioned perennials, which is to establish a landscape that will endure and give grace and rest to those who wander through it. Square foot gardening, meet Humphry Repton.

Meanwhile, this summer, there may be raspberries.

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About K.V. Johansen

The author of Blackdog, The Leopard, The Lady, and Gods of Nabban, epic fantasies from Pyr, I also write for teens and children, including the "Torrie", "Warlocks of Talverdin", and "Cassandra Virus" series, and the "Pippin and Mabel" picture books, as well as a couple of short story collections and two works of adult literary criticism on the history of children's fantasy literature. I have a Master's degree in Mediaeval Studies, and read a lot of fantasy, science fiction, and history. Blog at thewildforest.wordpress.com
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4 Responses to Dispatch from the Arboretum

  1. When they fruit, you must make Kuningatarhilloa (Queen’s Jam: a recipe from Finland)! I’ll send the recipe if you want…

  2. KV Johansen says:

    Sure — thanks! I like them best raw, with cream, but it can be hard to keep up. Like I do with my grapes, I’ll probably end up having to freeze the excess to do something with in the winter.

  3. pugmantis says:

    Raspberry jam is da bomb. I, too, pine for outdoor space so that I can grow earthly delights. You have grapes?

    • KV Johansen says:

      We have a Beta (almost certain it’s a Beta, Beta or Valiant), which is a very vigorous Concorde type, and a St. Pepin, which is a green one. The Beta is self-fertile and produces masses of fruit; the St. Pepin needs a pollinator but flowers a bit after the Beta, so it doesn’t set as much. One year we had half a bushel of fruit. Sometimes we make spiced grape jam (you mince up the skins and put them back to cook after mashing and putting the fruit through a sieve to get the seeds out), but mostly we bottle a spiced grape cordial in Mason jars, and cut it half and half with fizzy water to drink. Delicious!

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