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Think Spring

The sign outside a shop said, “Think Spring,” and I’ve been trying, by writing out a seed order and starting a garden to-do list. But my vanity took a hit when this week’s garden newsletters arrived. I subscribe to only two. Doug’s Garden is written by an older fellow based in Canada whom I first heard of thanks to his book on growing roses in cold climates. He’s amusing and practical, and seems to do all his website work and social media himself so it’s charmingly unpolished – literate, but homespun.

The other is an extremely polished newsletter that comes from A Way to Garden, created and written by Margaret Roach. I like her advice because she gardens only twenty miles from where I live in the Berkshires. I’m probably at a higher elevation, but not much, and it’s great to know that what she grows I can grow, too, if I’m willing to do the same amount of work (the luxury of being a full-time garden writer?).

I’ve never been surprised by what she writes before, but today it turns out that a plant I’ve been pulling out – and having my children and garden helpers pull out – is not wisteria at all, but a native plant called the potato bean or groundnut. It’s edible, and it’s apparently even quite rare. Doesn’t this go to show that we appreciate or disdain things things for what we know, or think we know, about them? Roach is right, that it has lovely flowers, and I love the idea of harvesting the tubers. Now I have to wait till the snow melts to make sure our efforts at eradicating it have not succeeded.

THE WIDELY adaptable groundnut has an impressive native range, in areas from temperate to sub-tropical (see the USDA range map), in Zone 4-9. It will even grow in places like cranberry bogs (growers often consider it a weed). It’s usually found in moist areas, where at least part-day sun is available.

I have seen Apios growing in the wild once or twice, and a million years ago in a friend’s garden, too; it was something she inherited, I learned, with her very old house in Connecticut, and it was just always there, climbing enthusiastically by the shed, so she went with the flow.

I say “enthusiastically,” and various Apios references say “not well-behaved,” but even though it’s a strong grower, invasives have pushed it from many former haunts, as mentioned.

See why I feel badly about not recognizing that I had something special in my garden? And her description is just right: it grows in a stretch along my driveway that is fed by an underground spring in Castle Hill. Click here to read the full article. And sign up for her free weekly newsletter!

Doug Green’s newsletter is also terrific. You’ll find it at Doug Green’s Garden.

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