Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Common Thread That Sows Us Together

KCB is a professional gardener ( and friend who does wonderful work in the Greater Portland area. KCB is also an accredited Master Gardener by the Cooperative Extension Service and we are proud to tell you that KCB will always be on record as the 2008-09 Maine Master Gardener of the Year. We are honored to have KCB as part of our Skillin's Garden Log family.

So, Portland, Maine and Chicago, Illinois have something in common, neither will be hosting the 2016 Olympics. At least the citizens of the greater Portland Area are not surprised by not being awarded the coveted host status. I for one am kind of relieved. The streets of Portland are already clogged during the summer months. Tour busses, trollies and the cute and loveable Duck make frequent journeys up and around the Eastern Prom/Old Port, the Western Prom and back. September/October has seen an increase in Cruise Ship berthings, all passengers eager to get a glimpse of New England Fall Foliage or an LL Bean flannel shirt.

On warmer days you can find me at any one of the Old Port Restaurant's open decks, cavorting with the tourists, sipping an ice tea or chomping a burger as we listen to a local musician. I enjoy playing tour guide when asked for “a favorite watering hole”, “the best lobster”, even “is there is a sandy beach nearby?”. A frequent query and perhaps one of my favorites ‘does any bar sell regular, old fashioned mass produced beer?’ I am able to offer answers for the most part but the latter does pose a problem. I do not know as I do not imbibe. With all the micro brews offered I guess it is name recognition (Did you say Bud) that those from away are looking for.

Having traveled, I enjoy chatting with the locals. I want them to experience what the guidebooks neglect to mention. I hope those who I do engage find my suggestions as satisfying.

With my slight hint of a Brooklyn (NY) accent I often am asked where I am from. Why couldn’t I be from Maine? I don’t sound like I’m from Maine, but what does the average Mainer sound like? Most of us do not have the accent that the Maine Humorist and Storytellers portray. There is no Cabot Cove in Maine and for those who admittedly were fans of the show, know there is no train to Augusta from Portland.

Our accents and origins may differ but over the years I always find common ground. Gardening!

Early summer, with the first flux of cruise ship passengers, I met a couple from Bristol, England that had just enjoyed a trolley ride around Portland and to “The Portland House Light” as it was called. They voiced surprise at witnessing the full bloom of our azalea and rhododendrons as those in their hometown had come and gone 6 weeks earlier. The British Isles boast hardiness zones from 7a in the extreme north to 10b on the SW coast. I remember my first visit to St. Ives. At first I wasn’t sure if the palm trees I saw were growing from the earth or potted pawns. Believe; palm trees are abundant in the SW of the British Isles. Further north, they may be, but it’s all about the Gulf Stream.

This past weekend a group from Texas was my table mates. One woman in the group shared it had always been a dream of hers to visit Maine. I’m not sure if by sea is the best viewing, I commented and she agreed. What was her favorite sight so far? The hydrangeas! There is a house on the Eastern Prom that boasts 2 mature PeeGee trees standing as sentries to the wraparound porch. PeeGee and Limelights are staples along the Western Prom. The panicle shaped flower head mellow from cream to dusty mauve they truly are specimen to envy. It seems the grandiflora; in order to shine is in need of a frosty winter. After, all, with blooms this showy it does need a rest. Their excursion to the very same light house visited by the Brits displayed landscapes now dotted with hydrangea. She was very jealous of the outstanding show that was created when combining this longed for shrub with Black-eyed Susans and Autumn Joy Sedum. Her husband and other traveling companions didn’t notice. Not everyone would. It is as if we gardeners have a secret. Yet these displays are there for everyone to behold.

Not sure how; BUT conversations with visitors, whether it be them on my turf or me on theirs, always comes around to gardening.

The common thread that sows us together.

KCB for Skillin's Greenhouses
October 7, 2009

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