The Non-Expert

Delphiniums, Delphiniums, Delphiniums!

Experts answer what they know. The Non-Expert answers anything. This week we celebrate National Gardening Month with some horticultural advice garnered from a Tri-Delt newsletter.

Have a question? Need some advice? Ignored by everyone else? Send us your questions via email. The Non-Expert handles all subjects and is updated on Fridays, and is written by a member of The Morning News staff.


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Question: Hey, guys. I’m looking for ways to pretend I still live in the country and can enjoy spring, but instead I am a Hyde Park Rapunzel in a concrete Kremlin dorm. Urgent help requested. Advice need not include ways to meet boys who read Heidegger.—Kathleen Thompson


Spring Notes From Tri Delta’s Garden Coordinator

Walking around campus this time of year, I’m always struck by a certain red and blue flower. They thrive in sun and shade, usually appear in clumps but sometimes singly. What is it, you ask? Plasticus Beer Cupia, and they’re blooming all over our yard! Let’s pick them up, ladies. But don’t throw them away. I like to take them, punch a hole in the bottom, and string them together, red alternating with blue. Several hundred make a very festive Fourth of July bunting.

Speaking of holidays, the Thanksgiving cornucopia was left out way too long. And the Christmas wreath might have come down before February 1st, if anyone cared. (Good thing those red berries I found lasted forever!) So, effective immediately, Nancy W. is no longer the Seasonal Display Coordinator. I have rolled her responsibilities into mine and she has agreed to finish the term as Housekeeping Liaison. The Christmas wreath is down now, and before the end of the week I want the same to be said of our Santa. His semi-deflated position over the chimney has been lewd and unpleasant for some time. Volunteers, please sign up on my sunflower magnetic board. (And would the person who stole my ladybug magnets please return them? I found some stuck to the flypaper in the kitchen—very funny!—but six are still missing.) We’ll also dismantle the snow queen in the front yard. The styrofoam and tulle didn’t work out as well as I’d hoped.

You might have seen me walking around the lawn recently with Jeff Robinson. He is going to transplant the rhododendrons along the fence and will be paid a small fee from our housekeeping budget for this service. I am certainly not interested, several rumors notwithstanding, in any kind of non-pecuniary arrangement with Jeff. He is, however, a talented horticulturalist and has shared some very useful information with me about the last frost date.

In honor of our crest, the white, gold, and blue pansy, I planted eight dozen of the same along both sides of our front walk last Friday. The pansy is a hearty flower. It can withstand the cold temperatures of late winter, even a hard frost. Apparently it cannot withstand the drunken stumbling of several members of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. They must have been more bombed than usual! The damage is really extensive. I’ll salvage what I can and transplant the survivors to the backyard, but please, watch your step.

Winter Damage
You’ve probably noticed the boxwood in the northwest corner suffering after last month’s incident. I’ve posted a small sign asking people to please place their sympathy bouquets at a little distance from the hedge. Otherwise we’ll have a permanent hole there. I’m sure the victim would understand, and may she have a speedy recovery!

New Projects
I was disappointed in the turnout last Saturday for the Rose Rally. A rose garden in the shape of our Stars and Crescent Badge is just what the south lawn needs, but I was unable to make much progress on it all by myself. Come on, ladies! It doesn’t take that long to cut a new bed, turn organic matter into the soil, and install twenty rose bushes. Worried about scratching your hands? I’ve got pretty new gardening gloves for the first five pledges who show up next Sunday. (Please don’t let this be like the fall Babes for Bulbs disaster. I need help!)

Several of you have asked (thank you!) how the Veggies for Babies program is going. I’m sorry to report that I have not yet found an interested local preschool. Next week I’m going to try the county schools. Perhaps one of them will understand the importance of constructing a proper raised bed instead of settling for a plastic window box. Ditto on the Zen Tot Garden idea. Apparently “sandboxes” are all the youth of our country need. Apparently we don’t care if our toddlers sit in a square of sand, shoveling mindlessly. I guess the motto should be: “No child left behind—except in a ‘sandbox.’”

Earth Day is April 22nd and I’d still like the Tri Delts to do something really special this year. I know many of you supported Wendy T.’s proposal, made at our last full sorority meeting, but I don’t think wearing bikinis to class for a day shows a serious understanding of global warming. I’d still love to see Tri Delta be the first sorority to donate our hairdryers to the art department’s group Earth Day sculpture, “Warm Hair.” And I stand by my idea of having an Earth Day Sidewalk Sale. I’ll probably go ahead and set up a table anyway and it would be great to have some company. All proceeds will go into our very own Tri Delta Terra Pass. Delta, delta, delta! Terra, terra, terra!

Last But Not Least
Finally, would someone else like to spearhead the planning for the front porch pots and hanging baskets this year? After the recent sudden death of my beloved orchid, Lulu (someone filled my mister with Chardonnay—Nancy, if you’re unhappy about the Housekeeping Liaison thing, let’s talk!), I’m feeling a little container-shy. Last year my design for the baskets won 1st prize in the Daffodil Show. But no pressure! I’m happy to consult.

Happy Spring!


TMN Contributing Writer Jessica Francis Kane’s first novel, The Report (Graywolf Press, 2010) was shortlisted for the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize and was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. Her story collection, This Close (Graywolf Press, 2013) was long-listed for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and the Story Prize and was named a Best Book of the year by NPR. She lives in New York with her husband and their two children. More by Jessica Francis Kane