Friday, October 30, 2009

So much to do in this year's garden, yet already time to look ahead to next year's garden. Garden years link our lives into a bracelet of growth and change. Even if our garden consists solely of annuals, that changing of soil in the containers and remembering what we planted last year, what worked and what didn't, links our years into a chain of gardening experience that transforms our beauty-starved lives into beauty-filled ones. I doubt there is a gardener emptying out flower pots this fall who isn't already thinking about what might be done with them next year--how to make them prettier, more bloom filled, less expensive, more unique--or maybe more well behaved.

This year I under planted my three potted rose trees with American ivy sprigs in May. By July, the ivy had draped itself gracefully down the sides of the pots, but by August it was covering the pots (and the deck) like a carpet, completely annihilating the plants in nearby smaller pots. And yes, I could have/should have/would have pinched it back and kept it under control, but I was gone a lot and was content to let it thrive. As I moved the roses out of their clay pots and into plastic pails to store in the garage for the winter (I move them so that the clay pots don't break during the Minnesota -30 nights that freeze even things in our attached garage), I realized that the ivy roots were really stealing nutrients from my roses, and so I'm already planning not to put them back there next summer. Maybe some impatiens. Or maybe I'll just let the roses be themselves. But that is next year.

Next year I will transform this pile of rubble that used to be the floor in our cabin into a garden pathway or wall. Next year I will get these newly purchased shrubs set in their proper place. For now, I will set them in the ground in their pots and hope for the best--our landscaping, unfortunately, isn't ready for them yet. Gardening does not always fall into a neat order. Sometimes it is like a bracelet that lies in a pile in the corner of the jewelry box--tangled, but waiting to be picked up and worn, to be clasped around our wrists and tickle our hands with its many charms. Just so, we are linked to the earth--one year at a time.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Destruction and construction. Built on the same root word, the two words have such different connotations. Destruction always makes me think of a child pounding a precious glass vase into a million pieces with a toy hammer--or, in the extreme, of bombing that destroys whole cities and lives. Construction has all of the positive attachments: new buildings, new ideas, creativity. When construction grows out of destruction, do we have "restruction"? Recycling, I suppose, is the right word--no root word connection, sorry.

In the destruction of our old cabin, whose walls were begging to divorce themselves from their foundation, the seeds of the construction of next summer's garden pathways were sown. Jule, the expert operator of the big backhoe that accomplished the demolition, broke up the old concrete slab into user-friendly pieces so that I can create some paths when we begin landscaping. He picked up several of the larger pieces with the giant machine's claws, then set them down in the approximate place I want the path to go. Others were piled nearby for easy access.

As my heart sorrows at destruction, it is cheered by the simple act of recycling--no landfill for my former floor! Next spring I will face the challenge of construction. And I will, no doubt, be wishing I had my own backhoe.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The days of daisies are coming to an end. Black eyed Susans are not really daisies, I guess, but they are fresh faces in the garden in late summer. Mine are already done blooming and only the black stems and cones are standing, spreading seeds all over the garden. By summer of 2010, I will be chiding myself for having let those seeds spread. Ah yes, we are moving into a decade that will be easier to talk about--it seems easier to say "twenty-ten" than "two thousand nine" Anyway, no matter what the year, people delight in daisies. They aren't the most perfect flower in the garden, as evidenced by the shrivelled petals on some of these, or the way some petals lift up and some hang down. It is their simplicity, I suppose, that we like, just as famous rosarians often favor the single rose over the most heavily petalled hybrid tea. A bright, cheery color doesn't hurt, either. Even plain white daisies have a happy yellow-green center which always seem to be smiling back at us. The profusion in which daisies bloom shouts that they are happy to be alive. Well, aren't we all? We just need to show it. Though the days of daisies are coming to an end, why not smile at someone today?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

My garden has been neglected. Look at my trowel. That's not fresh garden soil on it--it's month-old (at least) soil. I have been away and the forces of weeds and weather have been at work. It is probably too late now for this trusty tool to do much good.

While I have been away, woodpeckers have decided that my house is their house. They think of it as a big tree in a little woods and love it because instead of those pesky round surfaces, it has nice flat ones that are easy to maneuver. Being cedar, it is softer than an oak tree. Because it is made up of hundreds of pieces of siding and trim, it has hundreds of places for bugs to hide, making for hundreds of places for woodpeckers to go for dinner--sort of a franchise row for the pecking set.

We have done the recommended woodpecker control--shiny, moving things dangling from the eaves; no more suet in the feeders; new caulk. Woodpeckers, however, don't give up. When the shiny things blow down--and sometimes even when they don't--woodpeckers return. A small downy woodpecker is the most persistent. Flag's barking does nothing to deter him because the downy is up so high he knows no dog can bother him (though she can spring at least five feet off the ground). That is why yesterday, in order to scare this little tyrant away, when I could see nothing else at hand, I picked up my long-unused trowel and flung it at the house. I had the fleeting thought that I should be careful not to break a window, but I needn't have worried. I heard the metal hit the cement block foundation and immediately knew that I still throw "like a girl." Why is it that this is the only part of me that doesn't age? In any case, the woodpecker flew away--and so, though many gardening chores remain undone, I celebrate the revelation that it's never too late to throw in the trowel.