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April 10, 2007
Yellower than a yellow pencil, the forsythia is out and glorious. More and more people around here are having the sense to allow its branches to "fountain" gracefully, rather than attempting to trim it into awkward box shapes, so that a row of it looks like somebody parked a school bus in their front yard. Don't trim it; forsythia wants to branch.

So does buddleia, which you may know as "butterfly bush." It wants to grow tall and bend gracefully, swaying prettily in whatever wind happens by. You cut it down almost to the ground very early in the spring, and by July it's taller than you are and covered with butterflies and bumblebees. Sometimes Ethel the Hummingbird abandons her post in back and ventures into the front garden for a buddleia snack, of which she is quite fond.

The roses are leafing furiously, and I have pegged most of their branches, bending them almost to the ground and pinning them into that position, so that all along the arc of their branches new branches sprout, as sure as you're born.

Branching appears to be a process that thrives on stress: cut it to the ground, bend it double, and it'll put forth branches like nobody's business, just in case. Plants respect a fairly frontal relationship with people; you don't need to tiptoe. In fact, they do well if they suspect you of fell intent: This woman's trying to murder me, the plant thinks, I'd better put out a few extra branches just to be on the safe side.

This year I intend to feed the roses coffee grounds, cut-up banana peels and Epsom salts along with their compost, and see who salutes. That's not part of my Shock and Awe campaign; it is well known that roses genuinely like Epsom salts with banana peel.

Another year of watching and following their cues. Another season of mistakes and wisdom derived from them. The sooner it gets warm, the better, for both garden and gardener.

Want to see a picture of the Easter Bunny cake you read about yesterday? And get directions for another one, to use next year? Check out the HodgePodge at -- Debbie is posting the cake pictures as I speak. And, while you're there, collect your Easter blessings from Carol Stone on Ways of the World, travel to Easter church with Deacon J on More or Less Church, see the kids of St. Paul's and San Andres in a wonderful Passion play on Fr. Matthew Presents and light a candle for a prayer intention on the Vigils page.
This Saturday, April 14, 10am-1pm A Quiet Morning in the Easter Season at St. Barnabas, Ardsley, NY. Barbara Crafton is retreat leader for this return visit to a favorite parish. All are welcome. Call 914-693-3366
The 2007 Swindell Lecture Summit at Haw River State Park in the beautiful Diocese of North Carolina, 5:00 PM April 20 till 1:00 PM April 21. Keynote speaker is Barbara Crafton. For registration information, contact Harrison T. Simons, (919) 693-5547.
May 13th -- Dignity/NY Mass at St. John's in the Village, NYC. 7:30 pm. In what has become something of a Mother's Day tradtion, Barbara Crafton will preach at this wonderful weekly Mass for GLBT Roman Catholics and their friends. It's only the most joyous Mass in New York City.
May 27-31st "Gardens and Grace" at Kanuga! Gardens large or small, wild or manicured, can be places for prayer, creativity and healing. This unique conference, in an exquisite outdoor setting, will provide breathing space, time for solitude and community, time for relaxation and restoration and time to learn about and to cherish the natural world. Inspirational meditations, workshops, teaching, sharing and celebrating will encourage a deepening of faith, hope and love. Barbara Crafton is among the keynote speakers.
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