Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The tragically browned and snow-drifted arbor of my February 11 blog is magically transformed into a happy burst of color here. Are we having an early spring in Minnesota? Hardly. This shot was taken last summer. The foreground greenery is a clematis paniculata, working up a head of steam for its September bloom. Like all other vines, it has no intention of climbing up the arbor as it should, but is determined to twist itself all around the gate. Because it is such a vigorous grower, it can do this in the space of a short week while I am not paying attention. I tell myself that I wanted it to grow on the gate, but I secure some of the vines to the arbor in order to make myself feel that I am in charge, which, of course, I am not.

The deep pink beauty on the other side of the arbor, variety unknown by me--it was one of those end-of-the-season-unmarked purchases--chose to spread out in the opposite direction, toward the day lilies and miniature roses, leaving that side of the gate free for opening and closing. So, do I open it and close it? Of course not, because then Flag, my spaniel, would have to go around through the flowers instead of staying on the path under the arbor.

An arbor with a gate--lovely idea, but practical? Not so much. Looking at pictures of the summer garden during the depths of winter--a lovely idea and eminently practical if one wishes to maintain one's cheery attitude. Besides, I'm getting up that head of steam needed to propel me into springtime gardening. Looking at summer pictures every day stokes the fire that melts the snow.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Late Breakfast

Soft rime
tickles the pillow
that rests on earth's bed.

craft clean sheets
across the lawn, neatly spread.

Feathered frost
ruffles night's comforter,
day dawns in gingerbread.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Rosemary and cacti--what an unlikely combination to the eyes of a Midwestern gardener. As one who has grown rosemary in a pot on the deck, who used it sparingly in my cooking so as not to damage the plant, and who tried unsuccessfully to winter it as a house plant, I was quickly taken in by the beauty of this small mountain of an herb on display in front of the Clarendon Hotel in Phoenix, AZ, last week. While I've read that rosemary likes heat and good drainage, and that it has long, deep roots, I somehow never imagined it as a companion for cactus. I think of it as a friend of plants like basil, dill and chives--because that is how I usually grow it. Time to expand my thinking (and since planting outdoor pots is still three months away here in Zone 4, I have plenty of time to do this...) For now, I'm thinking that planting some cacti in my pots next spring would be great for keeping squirrels away. Better yet, by adding cacti I might end up with rosemary like a mountain instead of rosemary like a sprig. I'll settle for rosemary like a hill--even a knoll--because as I write this, I look out at the snow and I know I'm not in Phoenix anymore.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Into the cave
of winter
I steal,
the cobwebs of cold
hold me back
just inside the gaping mouth.

Under the crown
of snow's bright hope,
I take one careful step
and then another,
bending low
how far to go.

Then, summer's neat crochet
of brown-leaved lace
tickles my face,
wraps me in last year's shawl--
spring's promise arched
in the grotto's memory
of fall.