Ken’s garden before Hurricane Irene
Ken’s garden during the Irene-caused flood
Gardening on an island in a river in Northwestern New Jersey, Ken Druse is used to floods, which he stopped counting after the 12th. But Hurricane Irene was different. As Ken recently told the Annapolis Horticulture Society, Irene left his garden under water for FIVE DAYS. And deposited as much as TWO FEET OF SAND in some parts of his garden. Sorry for the all-caps but seeing his photos and videos of all the destruction left me traumatized!
I asked Ken if he plans to restore his garden or was he considering moving on, and he answered, “I’m going to take it slowly. I have to make repairs to the infrastructure — wall, bridge, deer fence, etc. Then I will continue to clean up. I suppose that does mean I will be trying to get a garden going, but I think it is an opportunity to figure out a new strategy.” While some might think of destruction like this as an “opportunity” to buy lots of new plants, Ken knows that there’s no way to replace plants you’ve nurtured for 15 years – without the huge budget required to buy full-grown plants.
Readers, what would YOU do if you gardened here?
Drusian Plant Wisdom – Highlights from his Talk
- He’s “almost desperate” to get more people to grow plants and urged us to plant tree with kids, or just show them what’s under a rock, but do it before they turn three or it may be too late.
- To help “Stop plant blindness”, learn plant names!
- Boy, does he hate mulch volcanoes, dyed mulch, and the instant gardens on TV.
- But guess what! In stark contrast to the Michael Dirr, he actually LIKES the Beauty Bush (a favorite of mine) and recommends it and other large, old-fashioned, flowering shrubs, like Weigela and Mock Orange. He loves how effective they are at “shinking his property,” which I agree is the fastest and cheapest way to create a lush but low-maintenance garden.
- Though he’s authored 16 books, it’s taken a whole lot of years to do that – an average of four years per book. So, he doesn’t just pop ‘em out.
- Ken’s a geek for plant propagation (and has Making More Plants to show for it) and shared a cool trick for giving Arisaema ringens seeds the six-times-a-day water changing they need – hanging them in a toilet tank. (Oh, yes he did!)
- He’s “really into oaks” because they provide more value to wildlife than any other plant.
- His garden doesn’t have just floods, but bears, too! (Visions of Stephen Colbert’s bear hysteria come to mind.)