Gardening During War Time

runktrun(z7a MA)November 2, 2009

This weekend after reading "Fanciful Gardens Emerge in a City of Tan and Gray" by John Leland, a New York Times war correspondent in Baghdad, I thought oh thank god things must be pretty quiet if he is actually writing about gardening of all things. As I was reading this "fancifull" article it struck me that John Leland used the sales of ornamental landscape plants as a barometer of a more stable, confident, economy rather than washing machines or LCD TVÂs. It was a reminder of the sense of hopefulness and restorative powers that can be found growing plants purely for their ornamental value. I wonder what solace does your garden offer you?

All of this pondering brought me to a google search of war time gardening in New England and an Arnoldolia article "Short Guide to Care of the Garden during War Time" written in March of 1944, by Donald Wyman. I thought it was a wonderful look at a gardening primer from seventy five years ago. It was interesting to read that as in Baghdad today there was a focus on ornamental landscape plants and not solely what was coming out of the Victory Garden. A number of things throughout this article struck me including Ornamental vine, like bittersweet, clematis, honeysuckle, bower actinidia and the like need little pruning except the regular removal of any dead wood. Cripes in 1944 bittersweet was not yet known as one of the top invasive thugs in New England, I shudder to think what a strong hold this vine will have in the next seventy five years. There were many things in this guide that caught my attention, including the spray program for lace wing on rhododendrons, but I am much more interested in what your thoughts are. Peace, Katy

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cloud_9(z5 CT)

Katy - One can always hope that they were talking about American bittersweet - a native. I have a hard time believing that anyone would suggest that oriental bittersweet which has the ability to pull down tall trees doesn't need pruning!

    Bookmark   November 2, 2009 at 5:18PM
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diggingthedirt

I had the same thought, Celastrus scandens or American bittersweet being less aggressive it would not need pruning.

>It was interesting to read that as in Baghdad today there was a focus on ornamental landscape plants and not solely what was coming out of the Victory Garden.

This makes a lot of sense to me - flowers do more to lift my spirits than vegetables do.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2009 at 10:07PM
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evonnestoryteller(5-6)

"In Memoirs of a Geisha," they talk about how they have to take out their ornamental gardens and grow veggies due to the war. I was thinking more along the lines with rationing, it was a nice way to get your hands on food.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2009 at 8:15AM
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runktrun(z7a MA)

Deb,
I did a little poking around and discovered that Celastrus orbiculatus Oriental Bitterseet was thought to have first been introduced to the US in 1860 or at the very latest 1879 and naturalized plants were first collected in Connecticut in 1916!! It was used in the North East for the nursery trade, erosion control, and along highways. It is also now believed that it is crossing with American Bittersweet. Other than a difference in the flowers and color of the berries I was unable to find any info on the differences in the vine itself. Have you grown American Bittersweet?

    Bookmark   November 4, 2009 at 8:33AM
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cloud_9(z5 CT)

I have not grown American Bittersweet, but unfortunately I have extensive knowledge of Oriental Bittersweet. They do indeed pull down tall trees. TALL trees. :-(

    Bookmark   November 5, 2009 at 5:39PM
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