By Manfred Rieder
The sign on the closed door to the greenhouses at the Newport Agway is self explanatory - two more weeks before anxious gardeners can fill their baskets with pats of annuals, perennials, brushes, trees or every variety of herb that can be grown this far North of the equator. "Because of the long winter we are about three weeks behind this year" explains one of the sales staff at the store. While we were busy taking some pictures at least three customers came and went sadly, dreams of early blooms blown away.
In our own garden the only thing that is stirring is one lonely bunch of chives which has miraculously survived the four feet of snow under which my herb garden has rested until a week ago. Meanwhile we have our seed and flower catalogs to entertain us but at least the local Vista store has a nice selection of potted bulbs which liven up the house until we can grow our own patch of Dandelions:
The other area garden centers are in the same boat and their greenhouses are also still closed to the public but everywhere are the enticing stands of seeds which I for one can never resist in buying too many of. I think I planted about 100 beans last year, about 20 made it to some kind of maturity and we probably got just about enough beans for four meals because I planted them to late. I also have a tendency to become a tomato farmer in spring and when I finally get my harvest, all my neighbors want to stick me with their better looking produce.
And then - I cannot resist those lovely glossy catalogs and will shortly receive 100 gladiolus bulbs, 75 daffodils, an assortment of ornamental ferns and by special request of my better half, three blueberry bushes and an orange tree which will be permitted to live on the porch until fall where after it has to be carefully baby-sat until spring. Unfortunately I have a very small garden space but I luckily have a good friend who owns the house next door and had graciously permitted me to infest his much larger green-space with the labors of my not always very green thumb.
For those Newporters who do not care about color or culinary delights but are lawn fanatics, there is good news as well. All the local hardware stores have receives crates of mowers of every size and description ranging from dainty weed trimmers to tank sizes riding mowers some of which look like they could be used in combat in Afghanistan. The new Kubota line and some John Deeres are larger than my antique Ford farm tractor. They are also whisper quiet, have enough power to move small structures and cost almost as much as an economy sedan or small pickup truck. So - if gardening or lawn care is in your mind, polish up the old Visa or Discover card and venture forth - the merchants are ready for you and eager to make your acquaintance. And do not forget to bring home a few dozen seed packets. You never know when they might come in handy.