“Like youth, horse manure goes all too quickly.”
A friend loaned me Henry Mitchell’s novel, One Man’s Garden. From the little I’ve read thus far in the book, Henry Mitchell was not only a very good columnist, he was a very good man – one you would have been pleased to converse with and to know.
This is one of those books that you can pick up, open randomly and read any section of the novel and be delighted. Thank you, Friend, for the loan of this marvelous book!!
A dear person, assisted by another dandy woman, gave me twenty-two plastic trash bags of horse manure for Christmas, and in last week’s mild weather I got it spread on particular treasures in the garden. Ten roses on their arches had first claim, followed by the planting site of ten forthcoming tomato seedlings, then a dab for a crinum that should have bloomed in the summer but didn’t, and a handful for the Princesse de Sagan (a red rose sitting all my herself), and a bucketful for what I hope is a hardy palm. Like youth, horse manure goes all too quickly. Before you’ve got started good, it’s gone and you wonder how it went so fast.
This is the time to remind ourselves that we have our most beautiful skies in the winter. This sunrise the horizon was thundery dark gray-blue, surmounted by a broad band of orange salmon, then a band of turquoise, and above that a wide band of coral-rose. Above all that the sky was robin-egg blue with a few puffy clouds touched with light red. Of course only steady, wholesome folk (which includes gardeners) are awake to see it.
Henry Mitchell died of cancer of 1993 and there were many articles written about his talent, his giving spirit, and his legacy.
The following is an excerpt from a Washington Post article titled “This bud’s for you,” June 12, 1994:
Henry Mitchell’s children are going out into the world. They – all 215 of them – are the slender bright green seedlings of the many-hued bearded irises crowded into the neutral strip between the sidewalk and the curb in front of Henry’s American University Park house in Northwest Washington.
Henry and a sizable contingent of neighbors put the irises in two autumns ago, digging out the grass, installing boards to define their 6-by-12 bed, putting down sharp sand and horse-manured soil from the pile behind his garage and mulching the whole thing over with straw.