Weed your garden | Opinion

Racism and atheism are fruits of ignorance. I don’t mean that in a derogatory or demeaning way but rather in the sense that we don’t know what we don’t know. Although there are many facets that make up our human minds, two keywords are association and communication. Growing up, we associate and communicate with those around us.

For example, I happen to be a white male born and raised in a predominately white area. The only Blacks and Latinos I saw growing up were migrant workers who were working in another section of a field that we teenagers were picking beans in for the local cannery. My parents and grandparents were not racists. Thus, I had no positive or negative experiences regarding race. On the plus side, we were taught in church and Sunday school that God loves everyone regardless of race or color. People who have parents who are racists will have a negative ‘mindset’ to overcome.

When I went to boot camp, we had several Blacks in our platoon. I don’t recall any racial problems. We were trained to work as a unit regardless of race. When I went to aviation mechanic school, I became friends with a Mexican who talked me into joining the drum and bugle corps at the base. My first duty station was a small reserve training detachment. There was only one Black in our unit. We got along well and had a lot of laughs together. When I was transferred to Japan, there were several Blacks in our unit. I became good friends with one from Philadelphia. I guess we had the same interests. We spent a lot of time talking about anything and everything. I also had some good experiences with local Japanese residents.

Fast forward to today, two Blacks that I consider to be good friends are a Black pastor and a Black member of his congregation. Since I don’t presently attend his church, I don’t get to see them very often. When we meet, we don’t hesitate to greet each other with a warm hug. Thus, it is the sum total of my life experiences, both positive and negative, which have formed (made up my mind) my personal views on racism. 

Growing up, we attended a Lutheran church every Sunday. Like many kids, church didn’t interest me a whole lot. However, when I was assigned to an air station south of Boston, I was introduced to an Italian Catholic girl. We started dating and eventually decided to get engaged. When we informed our parents of our marital intentions, it was like all hell broke loose. Her father did not want his daughter marrying a Lutheran and my family did not want me to marry a Roman Catholic.

Since I was being transferred to Japan, I agreed to talk to the Catholic chaplain when I got there to find out what Catholicism was all about. When I arrived at the base in Japan, I met with the Catholic priest and attended

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Plant, weed and water: Garden Club beautifies the gateways to Old Greenwich

Old Greenwich

The Garden Club of Old Greenwich, which is now in its 96th year, has been busy at work throughout 2020.

The club spent the spring and summer working on projects, including planting brightly colored flower beds along both sides of Sound Beach Avenue and putting in flower pots and containers along Sound Beach Avenue and Arcadia Road down to the Post Office and along the fire house.

This team effort involved all 65 active club members who have “made beautifying the village a priority,” the Garden Club said in a statement. The work also includes weekly trips for watering, weeding and deadheading plants in the village gardens and at Greenwich Point.

Garden Club members also contributed their own plants from their gardens to help with the beautification efforts.

“They worked to beautify the ports of entry into Old Greenwich by planting beautiful flower pots at the train station and by completely refurbishing the Gateway Garden at the corner of the Post Road and Sound Beach Avenue,” the club said. “Members also weeded, watered and maintained the butterfly garden at Greenwich Point, an important Monarch butterfly waystation.”

Efforts went beyond just beautification. Club members sewed and distributed hundreds of face masks for front-line workers during coronavirus pandemic. The club has also worked closely with Girl Scouts to plan and maintain a “secret garden” at Old Greenwich School.

Coming up, the club will sell bulbs for resident to plant and enjoy. To place an order, visit www.gardenclubofoldgreenwich.org.

Old Greenwich

A public meeting has been scheduled to discuss replacing the Wesskum Wood Road bridge that goes over Binney Park Brook.

According to the Department of Public Works, the preliminary design of the bridge

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Keith Weed: The new president of the RHS gives a tour of his own garden

Keith Weed, the aptly-named new president of Royal Horticultural Society, spoke to Country Life’s gardens editor Tiffany Daneff about his love of plants, his new role — and showed her around his own garden.

It’s a broiling day in mid August when even the ducks on the pond look hot. Keith Weed, the newly appointed president of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), is out in the garden that surrounds his 15th-century timber-frame farmhouse in Surrey.

‘You’ll find him in the border,’ says his wife, Kate, an artist, who is accompanied by two border terriers, Biscuit and Bear, named — Keith tells me later — by their children, two sons and a daughter, all of whom are now grown up.

Sure enough, we discover the president crouched inside the suitably impressive herbaceous border between the cosmos and the crocosmia, obligingly clutching a vast bunch of freshly picked flowers for the Country Life photographer Dan Gould.

Keith Weed with Bear and Biscuit. ©Daniel Gould / Country Life

He certainly has the right garden for the job and, photograph taken, is touchingly enthusiastic to show off its various parts: the abstract topiary garden, the walled garden with espaliered fruits that he has trained himself, the raised vegetable beds with curled kale and onions and a large herb bed with lovage — ‘people never guess what the leaves are when I put them in a salad’ — not to mention the two beds that Kate has filched in order to grow dahlias. (She has 250 tubers, he reports.)

They are both keen growers, but they also employ a gardener — ‘essential when I was working full time’. In the greenhouse, the beefsteak and cherry tomatoes are ripe for the picking. The grapes hanging from the vines above Keith’s head, usually harvested for wine, are suffering a bad bout of mildew after the heat. ‘I was going to cut them all off before you came!’ he jokes.

This is an unusual appointment for the RHS, which tends to offer the role to one of its own, Sir Nicholas Bacon and Elizabeth Banks, the past two incumbents, being cases in point. Although Keith is a hands-on gardener — he even constructed a plywood template in order to accurately shear his yew topiary — and a member and fellow of the RHS, living around the corner from RHS Wisley in Surrey, his background is in the corporate world.

©Daniel Gould / Country Life

Now 59, he retired from Unilever in May 2019. He had been employed there for 36 years, having worked his way up from office trainee to board member. It was at that point he decided to assemble a portfolio of roles that would best put his expertise to use: ‘I was not interested in retiring and sitting in a deckchair.’ These include being on the board of Grange Park Opera at nearby West Horsley Place, sitting on the sustainability committees for WPP (the global advertising group) and for Sainsbury’s, as well as being

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