Essays from High Country Gardener

Since 2006, Dana Prom Smith has written and assigned essays for the weekly High Country Gardener column in Flagstaff’s Arizona Daily Sun. Over the years, these essays have covered all aspects of gardening from the practical to the aesthetic to the metaphysical.  Click on this link to see more columns from High Country Gardener.

Click for map of City of Flagstaff neighborhoods.

Note: Local realtor Eileen Schreiber offers descriptions of neighborhoods outside the city limits on her website.

Gardening 101: Manufacturing Soil
by Dana Prom Smith

The popular phrases “the medium is the message” and “global village” were coined by Marshall McLuhan. In “Understanding Media,” he wrote that a medium is an “extension of ourselves.” A medium could be a hammer, fork, cartoon, rifle, fishing pole, tennis racket, motion picture or even soil. It’s anything by which people extend their ability to affect their environment, empowering themselves to change things.

Soil is the gardener’s medium. 

A Hymnopteran Haven: Gardening for the Birds and the Bees
Cindy Murray

Eight years ago my husband and I relocated from Southern California to Hutchison Acres, a community five miles northeast of Flagstaff. Our new property was other than weeds and a few trees, nearly devoid of vegetation.

A Bird in the Hand
Tracey Hall 

Songbirds begin their ruckus in the wee hours, singing and cawing the morning to life.

At the Edge of the Woods
Susan Lamb

 Gardens on the outskirts of Flagstaff are patient and persistent teachers. Most of them eventually manage to educate even the most stubborn of gardeners about how to cooperate with the local climate and just how little they can boss around nature.

Gardening as a Form of Art
Dana Prom Smith

Sitting with Pam Neises on her front porch, we weren’t only looking at her front yard, we were also enveloped in its beauty. We weren’t observing. We were experiencing. When I returned home, I realized that the garden reminded me of Van Gogh’s “Ladies of Arles.” There was a low, gracefully curved wall running along the left side of the yard, and above the wall a bounty of colorful flowers and grasses, filled with Van Gogh’s “no blue without yellow and without orange.”

Winterizing your Garden
Dana Prom Smith
Through all aspects of this human experience we call life, it’s wise to keep in mind that prevention is better than cure. This is especially apropos when it comes to preparing your landscaping for the hazards of winter. We gardeners call it winterizing, and now is the time to get started. 

So Much More Than Trees
Susan Lamb

Here around Flagstaff, we walk among giants. Ponderosa pines frame our landscape, commanding most of our attention for much of the year. Small wonder that some people say the ponderosa forest is a monoculture, nothing more than a whole lot of trees that all look alike.

The Latin Names of Plants
Susan Lamb

I remember how bored I was in Latin class, gazing out the window at birds chirping in the trees. I’d been persuaded that Latin would come in handy for its own sake but also as the basis for lovelier languages. True on both counts, but sing-songy grammatical drills and readings from pompous elders of the Roman Republic seemed awfully irrelevant at the time. Biology class was much the same in those days: studying life sciences meant rote-learning of taxonomic terms and performing ghastly dissections. I didn’t see a connection between either of the subjects and the real world that called to me from outside that window.

Onions, Faith, and the National Weather Service

Dana Prom Smith

 Those of us with memories past yesterday may remember Sgt. Joe Friday of TV’s Dragnet say, “All we want are the facts.” While many people may not know it, facts are what Flagstaff’s National Weather Service gathers in addition to forecasting the weather. The facts are accurate while the forecasting, as with all predictions, is occasionally, though seldom, iffy.