Cathy Clary



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Wake up call: The garden awakens the gardener, ready or not

After a prolonged wet winter, there will be mud. In the long run, this is a good thing, as steady moisture nurtures roots and flower buds for what should be a spectacular show this spring. Many tasks await as gardeners make their first stirrings, but beware trudging about in the muck too soon. Digging or […]

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Got leaves? Then it’s time to recycle them

It’s not all a jungle out there, and for that we should be grateful here in the red clay heart of Virginia. Ceaseless growth and decay below the equator harbors no winter sleep or spring awakening. Only deciduous forests of the middle latitudes change into seasons other than rainy or dry. In the northern hemisphere, […]

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Teacher says: Fall brings new starts with plants

The autumn equinox brings a change of season. Regardless of drought, derecho or whether we believe fossil fuels contribute to global warming, at 10:49 am EDT on September 22, Earth faces the sun straight on before tilting toward fall. Like students at the start of the school year, gardeners can begin a brand new schedule […]

May ABODE: Garden green

May ABODE: Garden green

(File photo) The grocery store tomatoes I bought during the last heat wave have been languishing in their pots as we wait for night temperatures to settle dependably into the 50s. No matter how hot it gets during the day, tomatoes will not prosper in cold soil at night. I knew this when I bought […]

Gardening with native plants in a time of change

Gardening with native plants in a time of change

Trillium, a spring ephemeral, flourishes on gardener Carol Angle’s Albemarle property. (Photo by Andrea Hubbell) Is this the hill? Is this the kirk? Is this mine own countree? —Samuel Taylor Coleridge A fascination with native flora—plants growing here before European settlement—has a venerable history in Charlottesville, and if you can’t guess who it traces to, […]

April ABODE: Garden green

April ABODE: Garden green

UVA’s Pavilion Gardens will be featured as always during Historic Garden Week. (Photo by Dan Addison) Each April, hands are wrung and woe betided over what will be left in bloom for Garden Week. There won’t be any daffodils for this one, judging by ours out here south of town. In mid-March, “mid-season” Butter and […]

March ABODE: Appreciating fragrance, whether native or not

March ABODE: Appreciating fragrance, whether native or not

 The fragrance of Froot Loops permeates the air, wafting from three winter honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima) fortuitously planted at the base of an electric pole out in the east garden between the house and road. Over a dozen years they’ve matured into softly rounded cloud-like forms about 8’ all around, without any pruning other than occasional […]

February ABODE: Nurture bulbs, nurture the gardener

February ABODE: Nurture bulbs, nurture the gardener

Most deciduous trees and shrubs remain dormant during these short, low-angled days, their tight buds still furled over sleeping embryos. Yet mild temperatures teased out coral quince and pale yellow winter jasmine just after Christmas. As the little bulbs lead us into spring we can be grateful for the early flowers of a benevolent winter. […]

In Ithaca we trust

In Ithaca we trust

All modern local currencies trace back to Ithaca Hours, the oldest, largest and most successful system of scrip in the U.S. Established in 1991 in Cornell University’s hometown, it was the spawn of a quintessential “granola community.” Alas, as is the way of many socially conscious movements, a schism occurred and founder Paul Glover’s ithacahours.com […]

If you want to join

SBN currently has around 40 members with an active website and frequent e-mails. Join by clicking on the Yahoo! group’s link on their website (search “Scottsville barter network”), though you don’t have to be a member to access the directory of goods and services (sustainablescottsville.com/barter). The group has an open meeting the first Tuesday of […]

The taxman cometh

The taxman cometh

Looming over the barter economy is the specter of tax liability. Caroline Wilson, enrolled agent and master tax advisor for H&R Block in Charlottesville, says, “Bartering for us from a tax standpoint is very simple: It’s income. Scrip currency is treated for tax purposes as though it were U.S. cash.” She says most people wouldn’t […]

Got scrip?

Got scrip?

Hear that giant sucking sound of greenbacks whooshing down voracious twin vortexes of grocery store and gas station? Consider getting rid of currency altogether and trading directly with your fellow citizens. What I found, taking a dip in the local barter scene, is a bit more complicated. Bartering can be a one-time event or a […]

Your dinner starts now

Your dinner starts now

More features: Local CSA farmsFrom Appalachia Star Farm to Roundabout Farm Trouble in paradiseControversy grows over Horse & Buggy Produce Eat well, do good. How can you go wrong? Local food, it’s no secret, is big around here. Farmers’ markets thrive. So does a lively restaurant scene and a string of grocery stores that cater […]

Shelves of volumes

Shelves of volumes

You drive up a nearly vertical narrow ribbon of black asphalt (“I hate this road in all weather”) to get to Bill Allard’s place in Afton. It snakes past stone retaining walls holding up tipsy perennial beds to the final vertiginous bend where the log house, built by previous owners in 1989, perches above woodland […]

Ground Rules: The big freeze

Ground Rules: The big freeze

Albemarle County straddles the foothills and the piedmont, from the soft blue mounds of Afton to the mellow plains east of Charlottesville. This tricky topography makes many different pockets to catch first frosts. City folk retain more heat than those of us in the country and can eke out a longer season, but sooner or […]

Swan song

Swan song

Summer ends Sunday, September 23, with the autumn equinox as the sun crosses the equator and everywhere day and night are of equal length. Days continue to shorten until the winter solstice when Earth turns back from her farthest loop around our great star. Shadows become longer and evenings in the garden more precious. Many […]

Waterworld

Waterworld

What planet do you live on? One where the rainfall deficit is 11"-plus and the Chesapeake Bay a sewer of nitrogen and phosphorus, or Bizzaro World where a chemical green lawn pocked with automatic irrigation heads (or at least a yellow rotating water spike) is the perfect picture of the good life? Most lawns here […]

Heat advisory

Heat advisory

July in the gardenUse containers for a fresh start. Mulch immediately after weeding. Learn to prune all the different shrubs. Horticultural wisdom counsels the gardener to surrender to the torpor of summer and do as little as possible—a welcome respite for those who’ve been working steadily since spring, and in the heat and humidity of […]

Gardening in Central Virginia

Gardening in Central Virginia

The arc of the sun reaches its zenith on June 21st, bringing the first day of summer. From then ’til December 22nd the golden orb tracks steadily back towards winter. If you haven’t yet been invited to a summer solstice party, plan one now to celebrate the longest day of the year. Cocktails at twilight […]

Gardening in Central Virginia

Gardening in Central Virginia

“…The flowers come forth like the belles of the day, have their short reign of beauty and splendour, and retire, like them, to the more interesting office of reproducing their like….The Hyacinths and Tulips are off the stage, the Irises are giving place to the Belladonnas, as these will to the Tuberoses, etc….” Say what […]

Ground Rules: Just say no

Ground Rules: Just say no

Something sinister lurks behind the Easter basket prettiness of April. The first blooms of spring also herald the start of the lawn care industry’s campaign to sell high nitrogen fertilizers laced with pesticides that promise to-die-for turf. Do not succumb to this false lure. If you have decent soil and at least a good half […]

Ground Rulles: Shear madness

Ground Rulles: Shear madness

Many a gardener has an inner Edward Scissorhands, but not all shrubs flourish under the shears and in real life as well as show biz, timing is everything. Cut broadleaf evergreens down to size from Valentine’s Day through the end of March, but save the electric hedge trimmers for summer. Now is the time for […]

Ground Rules: Dreams of green

Ground Rules: Dreams of green

Weather Alert: stretches of balmy temperatures followed by frigid cold. A typical Virginia winter, really. But there’s a whiff of fear in the air these days. Few doubt the climate is warming and weather is becoming more extreme, but is this winter just another blip on the ancient screen of global history or does it […]