Archive for October, 2009

Guest Blog – Frederick Dobbs On Mycorrhizae

As gardeners, we often think of the soil as little more than something that holds up plants to which we sometimes need to add water and a little fertilizer. We forget its complexity and the universes within universes that it contains. Mycorrhizae, the associations between plant roots and fungi, is one of those universes. When […]


Vacation time’s a coming.  Just like the Dolly Parton song.  December yields about 2-3 weeks of holiday in the seed industry.  The “holy” part has its origins in solar worship.  Sure enough, I’ll be heading toward the sun.  Enlightment, indeed. For some years I’ve considered northern Arizona my home away from home.  Vacations in Yavapai […]


Eyes made their first appearance, like so many humanoid features, in the oceans.  As marine life forms rose from the profound depths, they encountered light.  Many responded to this new selection pressure by evolving light detecting sensors.  It is theoretically likely that many did not. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, some silent movie […]

Light Year

I’ve noticed color more this year than in others, due mainly to its absence in our large, fruited vegetable garden, where I focused much attention.  On the other hand, the Happiness Garden—our .71 acre of meadow perennial heaven at Fordhook Farm—has never been more luminous, shining in the sun.  “Ganz lustig!” as my grandmother used […]

The Green Rock

Over dinner recently with Heronswood’s brilliant new plant collector, Simon Crawford, I learned that what we regard as soil resulted from plant life, not the other way around. While not quite as simple as that, it’s true that plants created land, as in “land, ho!” or “this is good earth—our crops will grow here”, etc.  […]

Twilight: New Wood

We are reinventing our company. Since 2006 we have been transforming from a small but extremely diverse regional mail order nursery into a larger and more broadly assorted national research and production company with several nurseries, test gardens and a greater online presence. One of our perduring services is a close personal contact with customers. […]

Guest Blog – Frederick Dobbs On Soil Salinity

Norman Borlaug died recently (12 September 2009) at the age of 95. Borlaug began life as an Iowa farm boy, was trained as a plant pathologist at the University of Minnesota, and went on to direct some of the most important plant breeding efforts of the 20th century. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize […]