Impromptu - May-June, 2010
photo by Kirsten Beckerman
EDWARD PALANKER has been playing the clarinet for 58 years. He’s been gardening even longer.
Palanker, who has played bass clarinet and clarinet with the BSO since 1963, traces his love for gardening to his childhood
in the Bronx, where he grew green beans in a window box outside his family’s apartment. The box was small, but the boy
gardener had major plans. “I figured I couldn’t grow a lot of green beans, but maybe I could grow some really
big ones,” he says.
Since then his love for gardening has flourished like an untended zucchini. Stroll through the 1.5 acres surrounding Palanker’s
Phoenix, Maryland, home and you’ll see three sizeable flower gardens containing perky Black-Eyed Susans, clusters of
pink and red roses and vibrant hibiscus blooms, a veritable forest of trees and shrubs he’s planted over the last 20
years, and a big vegetable garden that bursts with tomatoes, cucumbers, asparagus, eggplant, peppers and green beans. From
April through November, the 70-year-old spends most of his free time in his yard digging, planting, trimming, weeding and
warding off deer and other uninvited wildlife. “It’s a labor of love,” he says.
Playing music and tending a garden both take organization, patience and commitment, Palanker notes. “You have to
love music and gardening to do them well,” he says. But the fruits of his labors in the flower garden stick around longer
than a piece of music he performs in concert. And that sense of permanence is what he likes best about gardening. He could
spend hours on his patio gazing at the colorful, vibrant landscape he’s created. And sometimes that's just what he does.
“When I garden, it’s there to look at year in and year out, month after month, day after day,” he says.
“It’s sort of like having a work of art.”
Admire Edward Palanker’s garden via photos on his website: eddiesclarinet.com
Read more about Eddie