Archives for posts with tag: Father’s Day

CRR is a tree hugger. Growing up on the sparsely-treed prairie, it was probably preordained that he would become a lover of trees.

During the Dust Bowl, topsoil literally blew away as winds howled down the prairie. With little natural tree cover, there was nothing to stop the clouds of dirt. Convinced that trees could break the wind, FDR ordered up “shelterbelts,” rows of trees planted by CCC and WPA workers. By 1942, 220 million trees had been planted along 18,600 miles stretching from the Dakotas to Texas. Those rows of trees defined the countryside where we grew up.

Now we have a big suburban yard with dozens of tree specimens, and CRR can name them all. When we first bought the property, the yard had been neglected for years. He brought in an arborist to identify the trees and diagnose what ailed them.

The arborist condemned the persimmon that shades the patio and a giant locust that towers over the property.

The arborist underestimated CRR’s tree powers.

He slowly nursed the persimmon back to health, with some foul-smelling ointment and a burlap cIMG_1315 (2)oat that wrapped it for two seasons.

The giant locust was a bigger project. The arborist predicted it would eventually split in two, fall, and damage our house (or our neighbor’s). CRR brought in a landscaper who cabled the thickest trunks together – even the derecho of 2012, with its winds gusting up to 80 mph, didn’t bring it down.

Snowmageddon took a big chunk out of the magnificent magnolia that graces our front yard. The tree doctor said it would never regain its shape – wrong again, with CRR’s pruning guidance.

When 9-year-old Sam brought home a sycamore seedling from his school’s Earth Day celebration, he and CRR planted it and nursed it to the rangy specimen it is today.

His latest project? A bigleaf magnolia, a mere sapling now that promises plate-sized blooms in a year or two.

IMG_1284For his attention to the trees — mulberry, sycamore, magnolia, dogwood, crepe myrtle, arborvitae, pine, persimmon, locust, tulip poplar, ornamental cherry, cypress and a forest of hollies – CRR has earned the title of tree whisperer.

Happy Father’s Day to a wonderful husband and father of our two sons.

Sandy Johnson is a journalist and a gardener, equally passionate about both. She lives in Alexandria, Va.





Chris and I joked last night about how wonderful it is to have house-husbands. We come home from work each day to a freshly mowed lawn and dinner on the table. Our husbands recently took buyouts from USA Today after long, distinguished careers, and are enjoying a well-deserved summer of leisure. Chris and I are the beneficiaries.

One night last week, dinner included members of our church stewardship committee. CRR brined a turkey breast and grilled it in the ceramic roaster contraption that one of the boys gave him. It was moist and wonderful. But the star of the show was the first beets of the season.

chioggia beets

chioggia beets

CRR harvested half a dozen of the Detroit Red Supreme beets and the Chioggia striped beets. He boiled them til tender, let them cool to room temp, then thinly sliced the beets. Then he fanned the dark red beets on the outside of a white platter, and carefully arranged an inner circle of the striped beets. In the very center of the plate, he placed a cloud of crumbled goat cheese. With a sprinkle of salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil, the dish was complete. And it was gorgeous. Yes, I should have taken a photo to post with this blog item, but the church committee was arriving and I ran out of time.

I can tell you the beautiful beets were oohed and aahed over, and then devoured. Compliments to CRR, whose domestic god talents are in full roar this summer.

Happy Father’s Day to the father of our two sons.

Sandy Johnson is a journalist and a gardener, equally passionate about both. She lives in Alexandria, VA.  Visit her on her blog, Grassroots & Gardening.