My Mother has always gardened and she has gardened in the same spot in Indiana soil for over 60 years. The garden surrounds the home she made with my Father when they moved in as newlyweds down the road from my Grandparents. Growing flowers was always secondary to farming efforts. That continues today as my brothers farm the land that has been in our family for over 100 years. So the garden, flowers, vegetables and such required an extra effort for my Mom.
Enter Into The New
As the new year stretches out before us fresh and full of possibilities many of us pause to mark the transition with resolutions, lucky foods and personal traditions. These actions help frame our expectation of what the new year will bring. We approach the new year nearly holding our breath in anticipation of what will come.
Imagining SnowAs the temperature rises and it is too hot for gardening I try all manner of things to help me make it through the months of July and August. I tell myself this is our dormancy period, our non gardening time like the deep winter months in other parts of the country. I try to put my garden records in order noting successful efforts and what to plan for next season. When I am really desperate I pretend my white flowers are snow! Once on a visit to San Diego Botanic gardens as I moved from one shady spot to the next I found in full bloom a plant labeled “snow in summer.” The name just grabbed my attention. Snow! Imagining snow in the garden cooled me down.
Many people think a garden of white flowers is designed to reflect the moonlight yet bright moonlight cooperates for only a brief time each month and what if the moon flowers are not yet in bloom? Compare that to every day imagining white flowers as snow! It could cool our thoughts and inspire memories of cooler times!
Friends planning a visit to a new garden struggled to pick the best time to go, wanting the garden to be at its’ peak perfection. Predicting the weather, wondering if it would rain, if the climate would be just right for the flowers to bloom they struggled to match their schedules to the hoped for perfect visit. Poet William Brown wrote “There is no season such delight can bring as summer, autumn, winter, spring.” When is the best season to visit a public garden? When will the garden reach its’ perfection? Whenever you get yourself to a garden, I believe you can find something good.
Conifers will be appearing all around the town in December, though most people will call them Christmas Trees. If you go for putting a live tree on display in your home then you will likely choose between a fir, pine, cedar, spruce or cypress as these are 5 of the most popular varieties for a holiday tree. This year for the first time Arizona is providing a blue spruce for the White House National Christmas Tree. Generally for a tree to hold ornaments we want it to stand straight, be cone shaped and dark green. We are happy to tie on our own “pine cones” as part of our decorations.
As the weather began to change in my garden I eagerly set about planting my favorite colorful annuals in my containers. I do pots, boxes, hanging baskets, tubs, it is my favorite garden activity trying for the perfect container of flowers. A container seems so much in my control, the dirt, the size, the placement all arranged and hopefully will provide perfect results. Yet each fall I think, “Oh if I just had one more container, perhaps a bit bigger, it would be just right.” Traveling to public gardens made me realize my idea of a container is much, much too small.
As I began my garden travels in August I fled the high temperatures of the Valley and I fled from the highly charged political debate engulfing our country. I longed for peace in a garden as only nature could bring. As our country and the world grapple with so many conflicts I try to remember conflict is part of life. Peace Gardens remind me citizens throughout the world see gardens as a path to peace.
I love a bit of art in my garden and public gardens like art too! Now what do I mean by ‘art?’ Of course that would be a question for the sages to decide. Though I’ll give it a try and say that I see it as an element made by human hands that mixes in with the natural elements of our gardens. Certainly at the Desert Botanical Garden Dale Chihuly’s glass art has been mixed in with the natural world to great surprise and delight for thousands of visitors. The excitement of such art draws local visitors in when they might overlook returning to a familiar garden. Across the country public gardens work with this idea and as you travel this summer prepare to be surprised and delighted by art in the garden
Gardeners love mornings, especially Arizona gardeners. Early morning is an inviting time to be among the blooms, buds and shrubs, enjoying the changes each day brings to our own little gardens. Morning is the time for me to take a cup of coffee to my favorite seat in the garden. I have a little bench that I return to again and again. Seated here, I can watch the sunrise and the sky change colors between the branches of the 30 year-old olive tree in the east corner of my back yard.