Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Magazine renews relationship with an old friend by Jody Headlee

I saw the following article in The Oakland Press, and just had to post it. I too, was a dedicated reader of Organic Gardening, particularly Mike McGrath's witty and informative, free-flowing articles and columns on gardening projects and problems. Please visit the link to his current publication.-KB

Magazine renews relationship with an old friend
By Jody Headlee, contributing columnist for The Oakland Press


It’s been 12 years since I wrote the column reflecting my disappointment at the departure of Mike McGrath from the editorin-chief position at Organic Gardening magazine. I have missed his writing and his on-target information the whole time until this spring, when I received a copy of the latest issue of GreenPrints.
To my surprise, buried inside as contributing editor, was a Mike McGrath peek at a planting conundrum.  I couldn’t have been more delighted to discover, he’s been connected to GreenPrints since the summer of 1998.
    I still would not have discovered his latest connection had not GreenPrints, the weeders’ digest, sent me an introductory copy to celebrate its 20th anniversary. Located in Fairview, NC, 28730, the issue salutes old and new correspondents who, under the guidance of Editor Pat Stone, have on every page, contributed to the reality that reflects the kindness, warmth and humor of true gardeners.
    I found their penned efforts fun to read as well as informative and was so pleased to reconnect with the writings of McGrath.
    Should you be interested, you can order a yearly subscription online for $19.97 at www. greenprints.com or call 800-569-0602 for more information or phone orders.
    To celebrate the issue, McGrath himself paid homage to Editor Stone by planting That Tree, the one discovered in a most unlikely place – his gutter.
    It all started some 25 years ago, when the city-folk McGraths moved to the country and McGrath by himself undertook an undergrad course in country living. Not by choice, but necessity.
    He learned about sump pumps, septic tanks, power failures, electricians, plumbers and gutters – new industrial-sized, double-wides and older smaller types tucked behind and through prize-winning rhododendrons.
    “They were magnificent, about 40 years old,” wrote McGrath. “Come spring, there were over 500 big ‘balls’ of flowers. I couldn’t take credit. By my guess, they were there when we moved in. Yes, I did count them; so would you if they were yours.”
    It was the rhododendron, in the middle, that shielded the gutter and wreaked the havoc.
    There had always been life in the gutters. McGrath shared memories of birds sitting on its edges relishing the tastiness of poison ivy berries as well as the vines’ contribution to spectacular fall color displays.
    “Yet, my wife still made me clean them. Perfectionist!”
    That year, when he climbed up to clean, he discovered a king-size leaf jam held snugly by the rhodo. No problem until the rake’s removal of the debris revealed a clear view of The Tree.”
    “I wish I could say it was a little sprout,” wrote McGrath. “But no, it was a sapling. A big sapling, about two feet tall with a nice circumference and dramatic roof flare – growing in the gutter.”
    He tackled the dilemma but couldn’t reach the tree. It was locked in the middle of that rhododendron-proofed gutter.
    “I tried to use the non-business-end of the leaf rake to evict the tree but the handle went under and lifted the whole schmageggie like a piece of poorly laid carpet, exposing an enviable tangle of roots.”
    Working slowly, he wriggled the tree free, pushing it to the other side. Then he moved the ladder, cursed, apologized to the rose bush he’d forgotten was there, moved the ladder again, went up the other side and brought down the tree – in one piece. It was a struggle he remembers clearly.
    When his wife saw the saved tree, tangled roots bare on the ground, she couldn’t believe it.
    “We’re already lousy with trees,” she needled, reflecting distress at his role as Savior.
    “I’m planting it in honor of GreenPrints 20th anniversary,” he countered.
    Approving the comeback, she nodded, quietly heading back into the house.
    Pleased at discussion closed, Mike tells of continuing planting, pointing out the tree looked as relieved as he felt when the job was done, closing the story with, “Thanks, Pat.”
    A double thanks, Pat, from another gardener who would do just about anything to save a tree, not to mention, discover an old friend. Happy anniversary!

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