Category Archives: August 1

‘This work is what women do—it’s how I grew up’

When someone asks Port Clyde resident Summer Ward what she does for a living, she has a simple response that she delivers with a wry laugh: “What don’t I do?” She then offers a little clarification. “I usually introduce myself as a caretaker/landscaper. I say I have my own business and usually leave it at that.”

The work Ward does for the several dozen seasonal clients currently on her books is wide-ranging. For most, it’s just a matter of cleaning up their gardens in the spring and putting them to bed in the fall. But for a group of about 10 clients, however, the list of services she provides is more varied and time-consuming—she opens their homes for the season, tends their gardens, mows their lawns, makes sure their lawn furniture is in place when they arrive, cleans their houses, makes arrangements for any parties, runs errands, and prepares their properties for the coming winter. “I help my closest clients with whatever they need,” Ward says with a shrug. “It’s anything, really.”

Ward often works alone, but she also has some regular helpers like Cheyenne Robishaw and Hannah Scott. When the need arises, she will also call on her older sister Shannon or her younger sister Ronnie or one of her many friends to pitch in. “It can get intense,” she admits, “but I feel like this work is what women do. To me it’s just normal, it’s how I grew up.”

Ward was born in St. George, which is where her father, Bill Stuart, was raised. “His mom and my grandfather worked at the sardine factory in Port Clyde. My dad ended up taking a care-taking job with Andrew Wyeth, so he and my mother moved the family to Cushing and—I hate to say it!—I was actually raised over there. So I grew up on the Wyeth property in Cushing. That was Betsy Wyeth’s childhood home. She and Andy lived there in the summers before they bought Allen Island. And then when they bought Allen Island we’d go back and forth. My mother was Betsy Wyeth’s personal assistant for 40 years. It wasn’t until I got to college that I realized that growing up in ‘Wyeth land’ might be considered something special.”

What was special to her during those formative years was her family’s interest in sports, especially basketball and soccer. “My life was always go, go, go. We always had a sibling running to a sport and mom would go with this one and dad would go with that one. So we tried to find a happy medium.”

Ward’s freshman year at Georges Valley High School, she made the varsity basketball team—a big achievement—and when she graduated in 1995, she was offered two scholarships from two different colleges to play soccer. She discloses a little sheepishly that she decided to move to Port Clyde instead. “I had spent a lot of time here growing up and all my friends were here. I was 18 and I didn’t want to go away yet. It was about three years later when I realized I’d made a mistake. So I applied to the University of Maine Farmington, got accepted and majored in psychology. That’s where I met Jake [Ward].”

Ward and Jake stayed in the Farmington area for a while after graduating college, but Jake decided to pursue an opportunity to work with Summer’s father at the Wyeth property in Cushing and on Allen Island. “They loved him and he loved the area so when they offered him a position on the island he couldn’t refuse. So I finished up the job I had in Kingfield and moved back to Port Clyde a couple of months later. We spent the first winter here living on Allen Island. We were the only ones out there all winter!”

Ward then got a job at Thomaston Grammar School working with students who had behavioral problems. But summer jobs were an important source of extra income. It was a well-liked Port Clyde man, Trebby Johnson, who in 2005 got Ward started gardening.

“I was 27. Jake and I were looking to buy a house, so we were trying to work wherever we could. In the summers I was working at the Harpoon and Trebby wanted me to help him in his gardens. I told him I didn’t know anything about gardens at all. He said, ‘You’ll figure it out.’ So he started me off with just weeding. Then he had me paint in his house. And then he had me paint the parking lines at the lighthouse. So he kept on finding more work for me. Then he started telling all of his friends, ‘Well, I have this girl, she does gardens.’ So I said to him, ‘Trebby, I really don’t know what I’m doing,’ and he said, ‘Start reading.’ So I did. And then he hooked me up with some people and I started working for them—a lot of gardening, but care taking as well. Cleaning houses, opening them and it just went crazy after that. From one job I got another and then another.”

Eventually, partly because of the emotional drain of working with troubled kids, and partly because the landscaping and care-taking work was eating into the school year, she gave up her job at Thomaston Grammar. For about seven years, too, she and her good friend Hannah Simpson, ran Farmer’s Restaurant after Ward’s parents bought it in 2006. “We did very well for several years but the economy was not doing well and prices went through the ceiling so we finally closed it.”

Today Ward works primarily in Port Clyde and on Hupper Island. What was once summer fill-in employment is now full-time work packed into three seasons. She admits it’s hard work but says that at age 42 she’s in the best shape she’s ever been. “Cheyenne and I joke that we do ‘island cross-fit.’ We are always lugging lawnmowers, bags of mulch and plants down the ramp and into the boat—usually at dead low tide—and then we lug all that up the ramp on the other side. Down, over, up.”

In the winter, she says, “Anything I do our kids are part of.” And for Ward, that means sports. Daughter Violet, who is almost 11, plays soccer, basketball and softball. Son Liam, who is almost 8, is also athletic.

Ward is particularly passionate about coaching St. George’s youth on the basketball court and the soccer field. “I’ve coached middle-school basketball and Recreation soccer and basketball for over 20 years. I think the Rec program in St. George is amazing. Everybody down here is so involved—the families of the children are always offering to help fund-raise. We also have coaches who have been coaching for years and years. That provides a consistency of coaching that is unusual in most programs. We work together, we know what needs to be taught at each skill level and you can see the results with the kids—they really progress. They are having fun and everyone gets to play.”

At this point in her life, Ward believes she has found the right balance between her business life and her love of sports. Her work with the town’s recreation program (this is her fourth year to serve on the Recreation Committee) keeps her actively engaged during her “slow” season and when her care-taking and landscaping work begins to heat up, the recreation program slows down. “I don’t sit idle,” she says with a laugh. “I just feel really lucky that I’ve actually found work that I enjoy. I didn’t know I could have a business like this, but I learned. And I love everyone I work for.”­­—JW

Hooked on nature

As one of only 20 “Maine Masters” named by Maine Fiber Arts, Martinsville artist Anne Cox is recognized for her unique and imaginative hooked rugs. Her life-long dialogue with nature is expressed in the richly textured patterns she designs. “I like how creating things in conversation with the natural world helps me see it better,” she explains, “and my quest is to always understand what I see in untouched, unspoiled, nature.” This quest began when she was a youngster in Hillsborough, North Carolina.

During the 1960s, Cox’s environmentally-conscious parents became leaders of a movement to prohibit the construction of a dam across the Eno River in North Carolina. They helped found an association that acquired much of the land along the river’s banks and established the Eno River State Park. Because of her parents’ involvement with the river, Cox spent her teen years canoeing and backpacking there while closely observing its natural beauty. This kindled in her a love of unspoiled nature and also a desire to draw her observations. So, she took up pen and ink and began detailed renderings of most anything she saw. But Cox also needed the challenge to “make things.” She constructed small houses from cardboard boxes and turned them into artfully designed villages with landscapes.

After high school, Cox enrolled in North Carolina State University’s School of Design in Raleigh, where she earned a B.E.D.A. (environmental design in architecture). She then applied for and won a fellowship to the University of Michigan, where she earned an M.L.A. in landscape architecture. But another interest soon developed that would lead her in a different direction.

During her graduate school years in Michigan, Cox attended an Episcopal Church that embraced progressive ideals about social justice. This motivated the young woman to become involved in the church’s outreach ministry to the homeless—and to begin thinking theologically about her environmental design studies. It was a “big eye opener,” she remembers. It was also during this period that Cox met Julie Wortman, who was to become her life partner.

After receiving her M.L. A., she decided to pursue theology more seriously. This led her to Union Seminary in Manhattan, where she earned a Master of Divinity degree. Homiletics was a favorite study for the way it fulfilled her desire to engage in a “conversation between history, theology and what’s happening in the world.” In 1988, she was ordained as an Episcopal priest, and served as interim rector at a parish in New Jersey. Eventually, Cox moved back to Michigan where she served as rector of a small progressive congregation in suburban Detroit.

After serving in the church for 10 years, Cox says she began to feel that her creativity was “getting squelched.” At the suggestion of Maria Marta Aris-Paul, a member of the then active Greenfire community on the Wallston Road in St. George, Cox and Wortman signed up for something Greenfire’s leaders called a “Work Vision” as a means of exploring what sort of changes they should make to achieve a more satisfying and fulfilling life. There, the couple realized they needed to find a place to live that they could love and not think of leaving. New England spoke to them and, although they considered several possible communities, St. George and the people they had met at Greenfire exerted a strong pull. In 1997 they bought an 1820s home in Martinsville which eventually became the center of a fine gardening and landscape design business they launched in 2003 called Hedgerow.

Cox, who when she first came to Maine had focused her artistic energy on making rustic fences and furniture, began hooking rugs in 2007. She had been introduced to the traditional medium during a trip to Nova Scotia the previous year. The possibility hooking offered for pairing fine art with utility was immediately appealing to her. “A couple of things draw me as I hook my rugs. One is that I want to pay attention to the natural world around me and to celebrate it. The other is that I want to create rugs that are rugs—for the floor—more than as hangings on a wall.”

The process of creating a rug is organic for Cox. To begin, she chooses a subject based upon her observations of the natural world. She develops a palette in her mind and dyes lengths of wool accordingly (she cuts the wool into thin strips by feeding it through a Bee-line Townsend cutter). She then draws a very loose concept sketch on a scrap of paper. After that she starts working on the linen backing of the rug (which she attaches to a free-standing hooking frame) using a Hartman hook, inch by inch. The details of each rug emerge as she works.

“I am making decisions every step of the way, not just at the beginning, when I draw out my basic idea. And I like how slow the process is,” Cox says. “As a result, I think the rugs are very different from the way I might paint or draw the same images. I like the surprises that come when a shape gets smushed and rearranged by the loops next to them. I like playing with color.”

Her latest rugs play with geometric borders that break into the interior theme of the rug. Sometimes, the borders become the entire design, transforming the image into a fantastic abstraction of nature.

“I am not sure what my style is. It is what I do, and I think I am continually evolving. I have a decent color sense, and a sense of proportion. Beyond that, what happens, happens.”
Cox’s rugs and paintings may be viewed at the Hedgerow Gallery in Martinsville. She has also shown her work at the Maine Fiber Arts Gallery in Topsham and at the Green Mountain Rug Hooking Guild Show in Burlington Vermont, where she has won many awards. Her work may be seen at www.hedgerowdesign.com. —Katharine Cartwright

Dragons revisited—with different eyes

Nature bummin’ with Kirk Gentalen

Blue Dasher female on a clothesline

It’s been hot. Too hot for a lot of things. Paid a visit to the Town Forest Loop and the slime molds had gone to spore, the mushrooms were dried and shriveled, and I was covered in sweat. There was little inspiration for a nature-bumming column on that trail that day. More perspiring than inspiring. Not too hot for mosquitoes, though, which was a shame. Good day to be a cold-blooded predator, tough day to be prey.

When talking predatory insects, most “normal” minds jump to the insect order of Odonata—and specifically the dragonflies (sub-order Anisoptera). Not only are they fast, cool looking, and amazing fliers, but dragonflies are a major predator of mosquitoes, both in the aerial and sub-aquatic arenas. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a single thing not to like about dragonflies.

Twelve Spotted Skimmer

When referring to dragonflies as predators, we are largely talking about times they are away from ponds, lakes or streams. At those habitats eating is not a priority. Instead, it’s all about the mating games. Dragonfly shoreline scenes here are often frenetic in an amped up, breeding sort of way. Male dragonflies aggressively patrolling, defending and chasing anything that enters their eternally morphing patch of habitat. It’s a mating game that makes you appreciate that you are not a female dragonfly. Not an uncommon thought when observing nature.
Go any distance away from water, however, and you are bound to cross paths with dragonflies “on the hunt.” Some will hunt on the wing, flying in a grid-like pattern that would probably make Fibonacci proud.

Painted Skimmer

In between hunts, and sometimes while performing the classic “hunting while resting” maneuver, dragonflies will perch on shrubs, posts, and the random dead twig or branch. It’s a relatively chill scene, where males and females of the same species can perch peacefully near each other. At certain times—maybe when they are digesting—even dragonflies become impressively docile and slow to flush. As someone who likes to document observations through photography, these times are greatly appreciated.

Widow Skimmer

With the heat, ventures have stayed close to “the clubhouse” work area and, more specifically, the fan that’s always spinning. To observe hunting and resting dragonflies, however, there was little reason to go much further. A male Widow Skimmer (Libellula luctuosa) spent a morning hunting from highbush blueberry twigs, and both Spangled (L. cyanea) and Slaty Skimmers (L. incesta) have been perching daily on the butterfly bush. Twelve-spotted Skimmers (L. pulchella) have been using posts and the few dead trees in the backyard to rest, hunt and pose. Painted Skimmers (L. semifasciata) have even taken to landing on wooden clothespins! Have I mentioned how much I like the genus Libellula?

Female Blue Dasher

Recently I’ve developed an appreciation for female Blue Dashers (Pachydiplax longipennis). Sounds a little creepy, I know, especially with that species name, but I’ve been observing male Blue Dashers “playing the game” at ponds for years. They are a very common and wonderful sight. Glimpses of female Blue Dashers at ponds are quite the opposite experience—quick and fleeting (while still being wonderful). This year, however, a couple of female Blue Dashers have decided the clothesline just outside the clubhouse is the perfect perch. It might be a good year for them or maybe my eyes are finally seeing what has perched all along, but they are always there!

Blue Dasher female

One afternoon, the female Blue Dashers allowed me to use my “newest tool” to closely pick up physical characteristics, as well as their intrinsic beauty. In other words, two of them let me get close with my macro lens. Closer than I would have ever imagined and haven’t come anywhere close since. The resulting photos did not disappoint.

The spikey dragonfly legs are funky for sure, but it’s the compact eyes in the photos that slay me. A complex form, dragonfly eyes are made up of thousands of elements known as facets or ommatidia. Within each ommatidia, light-sensitive proteins known as opsin can be found. Color vision in human eyes depends on the use of three different opsin in our retinas. Dragonflies benefit from four or five of the proteins in each of the ommatidia. This allows for vision on a spectrum well beyond the scope of human eyes, including tapping into the world of ultra-violet. It undoubtedly helps when hunting.

In a way this feels a little like coming “full-circle”, as the first column I submitted to the Dragon two years ago focused on dragonflies close to home. Feels like that, except that the learning never ends, and the morphing of perspectives never lets up. It’s inevitable for eyes to differ over time, and thus a re-visitation feels new, as if with “different eyes.” The changes in perspectives and understanding can be on a daily to yearly basis, with the only constant being change. Heck, if the heat can slow a dragonfly enough for an incredible view or two then maybe I could even change my perspective about summer days. Ha! Now I’m talking hogwash!

PHOTOS: Kirk Gentalen

Welcome to Native Plant Corner

Native Plant Corner encourages the use of native plants in our peninsula’s landscapes in order to understand and conserve diverse pollinator populations, and complex food webs.

Gardening with native plants can transform your home landscape into a sanctuary for birds, butterflies, moths, bees, other insects and wildlife. Native plant gardening practices ( eliminating pesticides, reducing watering requirements, shrinking lawn space) contribute to creating a healthier habitat for you, your children, and the critters whose neighborhood we share and whose biological services we (and all life) need to survive. Native landscapes create safe migration corridors for insects and birds and encourage plant resilience in the face of climate change. When you garden with native plants suitable to our mid-coast region, you enhance your gardens with Maine’s natural beauty and you create a personal connection to the natural habitats beyond your yard.

This Corner will feature a different Maine native plant with each issue in the upcoming months. Each featured native plant is suited for enhancing our St. George landscapes.—Jan Getgood

(Getgood is a retired native plant nursery owner living in St. George, where she continues to advocate for conserving native plants in the wild and promotes propagating regionally appropriate native plants to enhance diversity in our gardens.)

Agastache foeniculum
Commonly known as anise hyssop, blue giant hyssop, or lavender hyssop, Agastache foeniculum is an upright, clump-forming herbaceous perennial of the mint family.
This native hyssop grows to 2’-4’ tall and is noted for its mid- to late summer bloom of lavender to purple flowers and the anise scent of its foliage. The lovely blooms are showy, cylindrical, terminal spikes of lavender flowers and are very, VERY attractive to bees, hummingbirds, butterflies and other pollinator insects.
Anise hyssop is easily grown in average, dry to medium moist, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Good soil drainage is essential. Plants will spread by rhizomes and will easily self seed in optimum growing conditions.  Aromatic leaves of anise hyssop can be incorporated into herbal teas or jellies.

An ‘off-center’ enterprise that is all about looking

Brindle“We are just a bit off-center for mid-coast Maine,” reflects Richard Rydell as he endeavors to explain the driving force behind Brindl Fine Arts, a business dealing primarily in vintage photography, antiques and folk art that he and wife Christine started 35 years ago.

Brindl Fine Arts is located on Toad Road, just south of the St. George town line on Route 131, but there is no sign to indicate it is there. “Where we live is kind of hidden,” explains Rydell, who says he loves surprises. “And the gallery is in what looks like a typical New England barn, but when you come inside you discover it is anything but.”

The barn, completed in 1998, has clean lines and light, open spaces detailed here and there with salvaged doors and windows. There is not a price tag in sight.

“When we first opened the gallery here in the barn we did have price tags,” Rydell admits, “but we found them distracting. I didn’t want visitors spending their time looking at prices, I wanted to encourage conversation about the objects and images we have here. We put things together in a way that you’d never see in a museum.”

The Rydells announced the inaugural exhibition at the barn, held in August of 1998, this way: “Anonymous, Photodiscovery, Oscar Kokoschka, Stonehendge, Decoys, Noteworthy Paintings, Folk Art, Chansonetta, Nubian Goats, Daguerreotypes, Cathedral, Tramp Art, Baskin, Funk, A+”—testimony that the couple is wildly eclectic in their interests and collecting. Aesthetics, they say, always comes first, followed closely by consideration of the condition of each piece. Who the artist or craftsperson might be comes last, just the opposite of how many people focus their collecting.

“It is all about looking,” Richard emphasizes. “You need to take your time to look for what is authentically beautiful and vintage—often it’s an image that brings up a memory—and ultimately what you choose will probably not cost all that much.”

BFA2Both Richard and Christine have degrees in fine arts—he in printmaking, she in painting. When they moved to Maine more than 35 years ago, they became interested in photography, at first mainly contemporary work. Christine had the idea to start a photography gallery, which they did in Camden in 1978, naming it Brindl Fine Arts because everything would be black, white or brown. “We brought in photographers from around the country to show their work in a sort of artist-in-residence program, putting them up in an apartment in the gallery building,” says Christine. “Then Richard started getting into historical photography—tintypes, daguerreotypes, stereoview cards.” After years of study, Richard has become the sort of expert who knows almost at a glance whether a tintype is worth $1 or $10,000.

“We met incredible collectors through the gallery,” says Christine, “which provided us with a solid base of clientele so we could eventually move to dealing privately.”

Although Brindl Fine Arts will be open regular hours through September (Wednesdays and Saturdays 12-5pm), the Rydells are also open by appointment (372-8523). In fact, they say, they really prefer appointments. “I really like the one-on-one time we get with people who call ahead,” says Richard. “What we have here takes a lot to process, so making people feel at home and unhurried is important.”   —JW

Trail becomes Eagle Scout opportunity

Kyle trail smKyle Waters had been on the lookout for a project he could use to demonstrate leadership skills as part of his quest to earn the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest achievement in Boy Scouting. So when his neighbor, Jackson Memorial Library Director Yvonne Gloede, mentioned the need for a trail connecting the new library to the St. George School so that the school’s students could easily get to the library for after-school activities, he jumped at the chance to plan and organize its construction.

“I could relate to the trail idea because when I was a student at the school and wanted to go to the Grace Institute (the Grace Institute offered programs for young people, but eventually ceased operation; the new library now occupies the Institute’s former building), the only way to get there was to scramble down the hill from the school. If it was raining or snowing it would be very slippery.”

Waters, now a sophomore at Oceanside East High School in Rockland, sought advice about laying out the woodland trail from Leslie Hyde, an experienced trail designer working with the town’s conservation commission and the George’s River Land Trust. “He gave me a lot of helpful tips on creating a path,” Waters notes.

Waters then solicited the assistance of his fellow boy scouts from Troop 246, including the troop’s leader, Josh McPhail and his father, Eric Waters. He scheduled three work days and assigned tasks, which ranged from felling small trees to clearing brush to laying down wood chips to both fill in low spots and create a smooth walking surface. Estimating the length and width of the trail, and planning for an average depth of three inches, he calculated they would need eight cubic yards of chips­—which he arranged for Hedgerow to donate.

“I’m really grateful to Josh McPhail and the members of Troop 246 for helping me with this project,” Waters stresses. John Shea, he says, also spent time talking with him about it.

The only thing that remains now, Waters says, is the task of preparing his final written report documenting the project for his Eagle Scout certification. Asked how close this brings him to reaching his goal, he responds firmly, “I’m close—if you don’t complete all the requirements before you’re 18, you can’t make it.”

Kyle headAchieving Eagle Scout takes a lot of effort, and Waters is also busy with soccer, tennis and basketball, along with Trekkers (“I’ve made a lot of new friends through Trekkers and I love the cool trips to cool places that we make.”). But he is determined—and optimistic. Judging by the way in which he made the library/school trail happen, he has every reason to be so.  —JW

Pasta with Salmon and Lemon-Dill-Vodka Sauce

Mary Cady of Howard’s Head relies on this pasta recipe (from Gourmet, June 2005, via epicurious.com) when she and husband Ed have unexpected guests for dinner. The best part, she says, is that she can find all the ingredients right on the peninsula.

1 medium onion finely chopped
1 T olive oil
3 c reduced- sodium chicken broth
1 c heavy cream
1/3 c vodka
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 c chopped fresh dill
1 1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
2 T fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
2 c flaked broiled salmon (3/4lb cooked in advance)
1 lb long pasta (any kind)

Cook onion in a 3-quart saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened (but not browned). Add broth, cream, vodka and salt and boil over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until sauce is reduced to 2 cups, 40 to 50 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in dill, lemon zest and juice, and pepper. Reserve 1/2 cup sauce, then add salmon to saucepan and cook over moderately low heat until fish is just heated through, 2 to 3 minutes.

While fish is heating, cook pasta until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water, then drain pasta. Return pasta to pot, then toss with reserved sauce and cooking water. Serve pasta immediately with fish and sauce spooned over top.

Serves 4.

View at Long Cove

Long Cove 12.tifThe schooner Abbie Browker of Thomaston awaits loading at the Long Cove Quarry, which was operated by the Booth Brothers & Hurricane Island Granite Company from about 1873 into the 1930s. An inclined track transported stone 900 feet to the wharf. Long Cove Quarry’s output included paving stones for New York City and other municipalities, granite for Brooklyn cemeteries, and stone for the post office at Albany, N.Y., Saratoga monument, and Bates Building in Philadelphia, among other products.

Abbie Browker was built in 1890 by Timothy B. Browker. At the time this photograph was taken it was owned by John Elliott & Co. of Thomaston. It met its demise in 1918 when it was stranded in Abaco in the Bahamas.

A huge planned explosion to enlarge the Long Cove quarry, with explosives set in a network of drilled tunnels, took place on November 4, 1895. Five thousand spectators and scores of prominent granite men from around the country viewed the blast, which exposed 100,000 tons of granite. “The shock was tremendous in one direction, but hardly perceived in Rockland,” wrote one reporter. By 1905 the quarry measured about 1,000 feet north to south by 500 feet east to west and had a depth of 20 to 75 feet.

Caption and photo courtesy Penobscot Marine Museum — PMM Image ID LB2007.1.101249.

Dahlia delight

dhalia 1Sweet dahlias are starting their show. There is no greater sugary confection in the flower garden than dahlias. (In my humble opinion.)

After a visit to Endless Summer Flower Farm in Camden (http://endlesssummerflowerfarm.com) I fell in love with these tender plants and the huge variety of bright colors, shapes and sizes they come in. All dahlia skeptics should visit.

Dahlias are tender tubers that only survive here if dug and brought inside for the winter. It’s a bit of an effort to dry them, cut them, wrap them each autumn. It sounds like a mysterious process, but is fairly easy, if tedious. But they are so worth the effort. And, each dahlia plant will produce many tubers for MORE the following year.

dahlia 3I usually pot my tubers up in the spring, after a positive exploratory trip to the cellar to see if they are breaking dormancy, i.e., starting to sprout. I keep them in one of the hoophouses for the first month or so of growth, and I don’t take them outside until the ground is really warming up (remember: Mexico is their native habitat, not Maine). Some folks plant them directly in the ground without this intermediate step: I just try to get flowers sooner this way.

While I may have some flowers earlier, I have begun to learn not to expect much from my dahlias until August. Then they start to explode. At least I am hoping they will start to explode: Incredible growth from one small tuber about the size of a fingerling potato.

dahlia 2I really love the large and syrupy dinner plate-size dahlias, particularly the orange ones, but have learned they are not really the best for cut flowers. There are some fantastic smaller dahlias and peachy, multi-colored ones I’ve come to covet. “Café au Lait” is one of my favorites. And this year I am trying several new smaller bronzy-rusty colored dahlias to see how they fit in cut-flower arrangements.

 — Anne Cox (Cox is co-owner of Hedgerow in Martinsville)

Where in St. George…?

babyheadsphoto1Do you know where this is? Email us your answer. The first correct answer wins a free business-card size ad!

Last issue’s winner was Jan Letourneau, who identified the pigs on Drift Inn Beach Road.