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I’m not ready to write this post, but I must start somewhere. It is part explanation, part apology, part a ploy for commiseration. This is not a farewell post. No, I just signed up for two more expensive years of hosting. Yes, that was a bit of a grouse, but when I tell you about my year to date, maybe you will give me a bit of leeway on my tone of complaint.
I knew the day was coming when I would have to seriously scale back my gardening, but I thought it would gradually creep up on me. This year, however, pain took over my body in such a way that for the first time since I started my own gardens, I could not do any of my seasonal tasks. That’s right: no digging or hoeing, or seeding, or even visiting a plant store. For those who love gardening, you know the torture of not being up to getting your hands into the soil…
Refusing To Give In
As soon as I could, however, I did make an effort to buy plants for the big containers and managed to get those done around Mother’s Day. But then the pain kicked back in and I haven’t had much opportunity to enjoy them. Then to add insult, I came down with a long bout of a truly terrible cold which resulted in coughing until my sides were sore. Listen, I hear violins playing! But I’m telling you it has been sad, especially when you see the state of the garden.
However, in the interest of schadenfreude, this has been a truly terrible season for working in the clay soils of Central Ohio. We’ve become the rain forest of the Midwest around here. I gauge how much rain we have by the flooding near the creeks and the ponding across the road. There has been long term sogginess, so that many farmers never got their crops in. So, even if my body hadn’t rebelled and required recovery, I still could not have had the garden that January dreams envision.
Cavalry Arrived, But Too Little Too Late
I garnered enough pity from my kids to get a little help. I know it seemed like gargantuan tasks to them, but in comparison to what needed to get done, it looks very unkempt around here. On their behalf, they worked hard on a very hot day, and they have jobs, classes, and tests.
It has become a wake up call for me, and I realize that my husband and I must downsize in reality, and not just talk about it. So on the bright side of this year, I have decided to move. Once over the initial mental and emotional goodbyes, I am ready to start a new adventure. We are looking for our new home, in a new state! Hint: I am studying up on plants that grow well in Georgia.
Eventually, I gave into the fact that I can’t cultivate outside, and used my energies and “good days” to slowly try to declutter the inside of the house for the move. This was greatly helped by one of my driven daughters. And so, another silver lining of being laid low by an aging body: the comfort of finding those around you are supportive and caring.
I believe I can still garden somewhat if I lighten to overall load. So a house which doesn’t require so much upkeep and has a one floor plan has me hoping to have the joy of gardening remain in my life. This makes it easier to close the chapter of living in a rural community: watching wide horizons of sunsets, seeing the approach of storms from many miles away, and the quiet of the country.
I can’t say for sure what the timetable on this looks like, but the excitement of a life lived closer to my grandchildren fills me with anticipation.
I traveled during the spring to look at houses, and will likely resume in a couple months. Although attempts were made at blogging, it was difficult to be enthusiastic about writing when grappling with pain and facing so much change. As an introvert, I go within to process decisions and “saying goodbye to an era” in leaving a garden I’ve loved.
But now I feel ready to write about the weather here, the beauty of nature, the joys of the plants, and maybe reminisce a bit. I am renewing my interest in garden planning, too. After all, I will have a yard to care for, just not acres of it.
But I Digress
Then there is the highlight of my past couple months- the birds! I had a little family of house wrens that nested in a window. A family of barn swallows were raised and lived until recently in the rafter above my door by the porch. They got a little messy, but I took care of that by laying cardboard down and changing it so often ( like in a bird cage). So cute to see four little baby beaks peak out of the nest! They are all fledged now.
Pictures? Yes, about that. I tried taking picture of those darling little house wrens, but ended upsetting the family so much they all disappeared within a day. They were ready to fledge and I guess I accelerated their schedule. The parents really scolded me, and I felt badly, but they felt unsafe. I see that they moved onto the other side of the house, but unsure of where their nest is located.
After spending more than a month in Atlanta trying to find a house, still have not been successful. Not for want of trying. I did find a house I thought would be ideal, but my husband did not agree on the price. There is some sticker shock for him when it comes to the housing here plus his list of desires. I will continue to search remotely, from Ohio.
This has been a bit of explaining, a bit of complaining, some hopeful peering into the future, and something of a re-introduction. The rich experience of learning about plants and building my gardens over the years remains with me, even if the actual landscape loses trace of my efforts. Remnant of my work here will be for the future like the evidence I would find of my old dog. He used to love to abscond with stuffed toys and socks. I would be digging in my garden and a sign of his work would be unearthed, and I would remember him as I pulled the half-rotten sock from the soil. Nature reclaims, we can only record.
If you think that thought is maudlin, wait until I begin writing about the trees and plants I’ve lost over the years. But first, maybe I should regale you with tales of decluttering?
I’ve had plenty of winter this year, yessiree. It is mid-February and that means the worst is over and spring is on its way. Eventually. February gardening in Ohio usually means lots of waiting, unless you are starting your seeds inside. Then, under the lights you see sprouts of spring -just about when March is ready to blow into the calendar year. The last of winter in the flower garden will not likely yield many flowering plants here, unless it is one of those unusual mild winters.
We were in deep freeze until recently when the climate had wild swings from near zero (or below) to tropical 50-60 °. Presently we are looking to receive more rain on top of our already saturated ground. I didn’t experience them, but learned about frost quakes for the first time. Apparently places like Pennsylvania and Minnesota had them. Due to the saturated ground and polar vortex, there were pops and explosions of the earth.
Yes, I’m a little worried for my peach trees. I planted three new ones and gave them no protection. They would have been better prepared with some mulch and wrapped trunks.
We had plenty of winter beauty this year, and with the snowfall this month, it was prettier than usual for this month. I have memories of February being soggy with dirty half-melted snow. We either have snow or not around here (usually not) in cold weather; and it looks halfway presentable for photos. Although I took almost none this winter.
I love the beauty to be had, but was a bit jaded when it comes to photographs. I get tired of winter snowscapes -except when experiencing them firsthand.
We had some exceptional scenes, and it is too bad I had such an attitude about using a camera. We had ice storms that coated the trees, winter wonderland snowfalls, and a particularly magical scene of hoarfrost and new fallen snow together one night. The ground was covered in fluffy white, while the fog froze on every branch and withered weed. The wands of the willow tree hung like cascades of diamond dusted ice curtains over the driveway.
Truly magical in the deep night of winter.
I did take a few pics for instagram, after one of the recent snowfalls.
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The Flowers Are Coming
All this month the spears of daffodil and snowdrops have shown that they are eager to emerge. I should be inspecting since sometimes the snowdrops have come into full bloom without me even realizing it. I used to get a glimpse from the window, but now I have to actually venture into the yard to see them blooming. (I let the pyracantha grow over the window last year)
After about a decade or more they finally decided they liked my yard. Galanthus nivalis has been planted here in a couple spots, but never multiplied in the happy way that the Glory of the snow (Chionodoxa) bulbs have. Until the last year or two! Then there were snowdrops coming up in the lawn and all around the Magnolia stellata.
The snowdrops are the earliest blooming bulbs, here.
Then come the daffodils, and ‘February Gold’, despite its name, usually does not appear until March. A diminutive sized plant and flower that has perfect proportions in a clear golden yellow. It is one of my favorite daffodil cultivars. ( Although I have many, many favorites, honestly).
Magnolia stellata starts budding out at the end of this month, but because it flowers early sometimes the blossoms are ruined in late frosts which we can expect into April. Groundhog Day predicted that winter will end sooner rather than later… but I have my doubts.
All The Rain
I can’t imagine being out in the garden anytime soon with all the rain we have had, and continue to have. It gets soppy-soggy and muddy even in normal years. This year is exceptionally wet… as I think I said.
The frozen state of the ground helps a bit, but when it thaws- it sucked my husbands shoe right off!
That reminds me. On a topic detour: so many gardening people complain about grass and lawns, but it is during mud season that you can appreciate the quality of grassed areas. The grass is useful for swales to help water runoff without losing soil, and when walking anywhere in my yard at this time, the protection of grass means one can walk through necessary areas. A garden isn’t the place for fads, but a stewardship of the ground we borrow for a time. I don’t love lawns at all, but they do have their uses.
That winds up my little chat as I drop in on this blog and update you on what is happening in the garden.
‘Til next time
In the bygone days of blogging (yes, we can now talk about the bygone days of blogging), it was normal to have numerous mini-posts comprised of only links or quotes, etc. That is greatly frowned upon by Google today (not yet known in those days when “Altavista” was the search engine we used. )
So this post will collate those ancient posts which I do not simply delete from the blog. Each entry will have a title and the date it originally appeared in the “Journal”. Sometimes we called such things “a blog” rather than the entire site. How time has changed the social medium of blogging!
I am now refurbishing Ilona’s Garden Journal for today’s readers. If you like trivia collections, this post will entertain you.
Autumn Garden Report
Published on: Oct 14, 2003 @ 23:58
Did I mention planting the Iteas? I did. They look great in their decided placement. They are backed by the Viburnum burkwoodii which really looks good. I hope they do well.
Pines are not looking good in Ohio this year, including mine. Losing lots of needles. But I don’t think it is serious for mine, they have some good green growth, too…. so it may be just losses that are either natural or from the drought of last year.
Every year seems strange in some way anymore. I don’t think we have normal, I think normal is something of the mythical past.
It is raining fairly hard today after yesterday’s perfect weather. Very windy.
I cut down many of my perennials-mostly the asters. Some years I leave everything til spring, but I wanted the asters out of the way-they are very messy in winter. Spring is always wet cold work, so the fall is my preferred time to get things out of the way and prepared for spring.
I am trying out a new tulip -‘Lipstick’ or something. I will put in the proper name later. It is a triumph type I hope it matches up with the Apeldoorn’s …if not, I will have to seperate them with some gray or white things. Taking chances this year.
Musings from an Untimely Bloom
My crabapple trees are blooming. And I have seen this in the general area which inspired these thoughts:
The Coming of Winter
Published on: Oct 16, 2003 @ 17:16
Some things come to their winter. They come to the time to put them to their proper end -cover them over and look beyond.
The crabapples should flower in springtime, but they are blooming in Autumn.
Winter is not a time of blooming and we are surprised when we see flowers then. As though we had forgotten it was possible, this out-of-time-sequence. Thinking that what is customary is somehow eternal.
The mind becomes steeled for the barren and the frozen, and bloom out of it’s time disturbs that, it softens us in our memories and transports us to a delight of another season.
Quickly it passes and the turn of mind is again toward the elemental matters of a warm fire, a shining light, and a hot drink. The blooms are garnered to their proper station of time, again.
Not everyone’s seasons are the same, but there is always some sort of marking of time and tasks.
I have always liked the Northern seasons, Maybe it is the clarity of differentiation in the types of beauty and the comforts of each one in turn. Their severity of cold or heat is not the attraction. Not for me any more, anyway.
I am already thinking of winter. The unseasonal blooming of the crabapple trees was unsettling. This year it has been as though I wanted to become a chrysalis and then somehow miraculously emerge next year as something wonderful and beautiful and able to fly.
Brisk Autumn Day
Published on: Oct 16, 2003 @ 22:41
It was a brisk day today, with a storm brewing on the West. I passed a farm with a horse that was galloping full run into the breezy gusts, tail up and rippling muscle. It seemed to speak the essence of autumn, the feeling of invigorating chill and yet warmth of sun and clear air. I felt I knew what the horse was feeling, just for a few brief seconds.
It reminds me of our day-trip to visit my mother this past week. We drove up through Ohio to the north, it was a beautiful warm and clear fall day. Leaving very early in the morning, the mists were rising from ponds of water and wisping about the fields. The morning sun sparkled on the grassy pastures with either frost or dew. I couldn’t tell which, in its white webby blankets.
The leaves have just been turning with fits of red among the yellow and greens. I made a little word picture in my mind of the smoking mists from the waters igniting the flames of the autumn trees. It entertained me quite a bit as I took in the scenes that are all too fleeting in their season.
Art and Beauty Musing
Published on: Nov 9, 2003 @ 22:32
Photography of John Beale is a thing of joy.
There is nothing I like better than for someone to have an eye for beauty and the talent to tender that into something I can enjoy. I think this is true for most us, right? This is what makes much of art: being able to transfer the message of something to another’s senses.
He mainly has articles for those who like to do the picture taking, which judging from the results should make helpful reading.
I always wanted to make good web pictures of my garden moments, and I am actually thinking of trying to learn to manage a camera. Right now, the nuances of fine photography seem mysterious to me. But all mediums simply need to be worked with, we can’t all be masters, but just attempting something gives us satisfaction and a greater appreciation for those who are masters of their medium ( or media, is this a pun? I’m not sure).
That is how I feel about gardening. An artful, masterful garden is not something all of us will make. I know I gave up that dream a while ago, but something that gives expression to the personal vision we have is do-able. Very do-able.
So we look at others art, and others gardens, and we get inspirations and enjoyment, we understand something that we otherwise might not, and we make our own expressions and the world is richer for it.
If you would ask me at the moment, I think this is the grand purpose of all of art: enrichment.
It takes what is there and creates the moment for someone else. I am sure this is too simplistic, but there is so much beauty to experience, and so many different visions of what that is, I think there is opportunity for everyone to create and enjoy another’s creating, and that this is part of what gives our lives meaning.
Customary November Weather
Published on: Nov 14, 2003 @ 19:49
The winds blew and blustered yesterday, but today is calm. Very cold, though. Not exactly winter cold yet… but starting to feel that way.
The days have had that clear yellow shaft of sunlight against gray lead skies that are customary for November. And the lawns are still green and LOOK SO WONDERFUL with the leaves all vacuumed , mulched, and stored in my vegetable garden. Today is a plain pale gray day.
I scanned in my photos, They are pathetic. Can’t even improve them. I think I will ask for a digital camera for Christmas.
I need something that shows my mistakes while I am taking the pictures.
Peace in the Garden
Published on: Nov 17, 2003 @ 05:49
I accidentally put a rant in here, but it is all deleted now.
Sometimes I feel I handle disappointments better if I can garden. It doesn’t have to be actual gardening, it can be anything outside that is quality and quantity of time in soaking up the observations and experiences of God’s good earth.
I believe we have done a great disservice in paving over and engineering so much of our world. We have more need of trees and of wide spaces in the cultivating of man’s spirit than we have realized.
There is calming and anchored sensibleness in the realities of nature that we desperately need.
It isn’t the answer to everything, I am not saying that, but is one part of sanity, it is a seed bed of balanced thinking and inspirational creating. Something is built within the earth, the wind, and the sky, and it speaks to us… the Bible says it tells of God’s glory. Maybe that is the comfort and the awe that we absorb when we are enclosed by something other than manufactured walls.
But even as I say this I know that nature is not all benign, that the walls are our security against real challenges of an uncontrolled and uncontrollable natural world. It is the balance, the interplay of what is there and what we are able to do with it that gives sense to us as we go about our practical lives.
I just think we need more of the “what is there” to look at and walk around in. I am sure there is a wonderful poem that would express it well, but I am going to bed now…..
First Snow Flurries
Published on: Nov 25, 2003 @ 14:38
The pleasant weather has come to an end. We had our first snow flurries yesterday. I finished the mowing on Saturday, which was a beautiful day, just slightly chilly.
The cotoneaster is filled with its burgandy berries, the stellata magnolia has buds that almost look like pussy willow buds, and the pyracantha is holding up well with exceptional amounts of orange berries this year.
I am not sure how they escaped the brown wizening they often get. I haven’t had the time to observe much, but no new birds have shown up. I think I ought to borrow my kid’s binoculars and identify some of the little birds that flit around.
I don’t know when the robins left, but both they and the swallows are now gone for the winter. we didn’t have the huge flocks of starlings that usually invade in the fall. Not that I am complaining.
I wish baking blackbirds in a pie were once more the fashion 😉
I need to buy some mulch now. December is a good time to put it on the roses and renew around the dooryard gardens. Neatens up things for winter, and protects from the harsh winds that are coming.
The winds here can be brutal.
But today is very quiet, and all seems to be restful. The husband and helpers put up the Christmas lights on Saturday, as well. We are on schedule for the holidays.