GREEN THOUGHTS: A brush with greatness

SOMETIMES THE WORST GARDEN DISASTERS create happy endings. This was the case for our Norway spruce. A towering giant, it was hit by lightning in July 2015, giving it a fatal trunk crack from top to bottom. While I was glad the tree took the jolt rather than the house, its removal left an ugly blank patch which quickly started to fill with weeds. Faster than an American Pickers guest star at a tag sale, I started acquiring and installing new plants, including two winterberry hollies, a spicebush, a moosewood maple, and best of all, a bottlebrush buckeye.

If you look in your woods for bottlebrush buckeye (Aesculus pavia) and don’t find it, please forgive me. I admit that calling it native is a bit of stretch, since the most extensive natural populations are found in central Alabama, with nary a sprig in New York. But get to know this outstanding woody ornamental, and you’ll be hooked, too. The Morton Arboretum calls it a handsome shrub with memorable flowers, while British botanist William Jackson Bean wrote, “no better plant could be recommended as a lawn shrub” and Wayside Gardens proclaims it “one of the best flowering shrubs for the summer.” While I freely admit that Wayside doesn’t go in for understatement regarding anything they sell, for an Englishman to give high praise to an American plant, it has to be good. Read more…

THE CAPITOL CONNECTION: You’ve got to have friends

LET THIS BE A LESSON to everyone.

What happened to Andrew Cuomo can happen to anyone at some point in their lives. You just never know when a good life can turn really sour in one hell of a split second.

Andrew was desperate to have a fourth term. In the case of the governorship in New York, there is no law against fourth terms. We really don’t know why this was so important to him. Maybe he was competing with his father, who was denied his chance to set that record. Maybe he was honoring his father. Maybe a little of both.

My troubles with Andrew started early when he decided that he would deprive Carl McCall, then the state comptroller, of his chance to run for governor. Had McCall won, he would have been the first Black governor of New York. Frankly, I was infuriated. I said so and, as I have written here before, it came between me and Mario and basically killed our long-time relationship. This was just one example of how many people had dysfunctional relationships with the man in the hot water. Read more…

THE CAPITOL CONNECTION: His crystal ball tells all

I TOLD YOU what was going to happen.

Andrew Cuomo appears to be off the hook. He will not be impeached. He will not resign. Unless something really dramatic happens, he will use his millions to run for the fourth term once denied to his father and he will win reelection. If Congressman Lee Zeldin is his only opponent, the Republican will be creamed. The New York Republicans are so timid and so under the thumb of Donald Trump that they will basically give up. Some Republicans know what is going to happen and they aren’t happy about the prospects.

It was pretty clear to me that Speaker Carl Heastie, who is one smart politician, will never have the internal resources to go after Cuomo. The governor is a take-no-prisoners politician with a very long memory. He would never forgive Heastie if the younger, aggressive Assembly Democrats try to impeach the governor. That was clear to me on day one. In the meantime, the Senate Democrats who want Cuomo gone will not be able to remove him no matter how much they want to. In New York, governors are very important. Read more…