My Garden

Things I love, cont’d…


After a summer of drought it’s been raining for more than a week. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for every drop that is falling. My evergreen trees had taken on a slightly blue tinge as they gasped for water. If my other plants had eyes, they would have been staring at me reproachfully….Bring the sprinkler over here!

Everything has survived and I built superior muscle tone hauling hoses around. We made it through the dry season. In the Pacific Northwest, fall is the soppiest of seasons. The norm is for the summers to be practically without rainfall and then the liquid air of fall and winter begins. Our weather people coined the term “occasional sunbreak” to describe these soggy months.

As I look out my window this morning, water is glistening on the leaves. The cedars and pines are a healthy green again. Some of the other plants are putting on their fall colors of yellow and red – a bit like petticoats and fancy dresses appearing for the harvest party. I can just make out the calls of a V of geese winging by on their migration.

When I walk through the grass in the pasture, drops fly upward from the leaping paws of my dogs. Wet grasses and blackberry vines cling to my boots. The pond, which dried down to mud over the summer, has a few inches of water in it again. By December it will be ten feet deep and harboring the frogs and salamanders that give proof to the health of the land. My winter task is to clear the hundreds of saplings that cling to the sides and if left, will fill it in.

Meanwhile, the birds have discovered the grapes still half-hidden under the vines. I’ve eaten and given away bunches already, but I know that the birds, local and migratory will strip the fruit in just a few hours. The apple tree is clearly providing additional meals for birds and small animals. It’s okay. I have more than my friends and I can use. The great thing about a garden is that it feeds you – food for your tummy, beauty for your soul, and a whole lot of work and patience to build your character, whether you want it or not.

I began gardening as a kid with a leaky washtub planted with radish and lettuce seeds. When I found a sprouting onion in the bin, I’d put it first in a mason jar of water, then transplant it into a jar or pot. I thought that if it was trying so hard to survive, it deserved a chance. My mother complained mightily that my bedroom smelled of onions, but she never made me get rid of the plants.

I love the life of a garden, the feeling of being surrounded by the essence of growing and thriving. The slogan for awhile at a school where I taught, was “Grow where you are planted.” That worked for me. Not everyone can move away from rough soil and drought conditions. But there is great joy in watering a wilting plant, sprinkling on some fertilizer, helping it lift its stem and become what nature intended.

Gardening has taught me that no matter how much I want it, no matter how much care I bestow on a plant, it will grow according to its nature – not faster or at my behest. It has also taught me that with care, every plant offers beauty and a sense of rightness in that proverbial scheme of things.

Just now, I’m seeing a shaft of light breaking through the clouds. I have a small bag of tulips and anemones in need of a bed to sleep away the winter. And I know just the place.

Fall has come with its chill and browning leaves. It may be wet and mucky, but the beauty of those leafless stalks will challenge the most talented abstract artist. Life remains with hints of green. Winter will seem to bury it all, and then just like the cliché, the seasons will roll by and spring and summer will explode with life.

I am beyond blessed to live in a garden.