6 Jan 2013

Where Would I Be Without You?


There has been a lot of posting recently about how for many gardeners January and February are their least favourite months of the year – especially so for those living in colder climates! [Zone 4-5] I remember a wizened mentor who looked across the top of her spectacles [a divine word is it not?] at me, all the while shaking her head in disgust.

Ach! Tell me you’re not another one of them? One of those who bemoan that fact that for three months the ground is going to freeze and your beloved blue flowers are going to disappear underground. What is it you think they’re doing under there?’

DSC_0143As any adept gardener can tell you,  if they are perennial, which all of mine are, then they’re simply in a slumbering state of hibernation. Animals and reptiles do it, so why shouldn’t plants. Looking across at her I knew she still had more to say on the subject. And so she did!

DSC_0142‘Those ‘kids’ as you like to refer to them as need the cold winter months. They’ve been performing their hearts out since last Spring, and for what, or in this case, perhaps I should say, for whom?’ She continued to intone her gardening wisdom, and all these years later her words come back to me, fresh and crisp as the fallen snow when I detect the first whispers of this being the least favourite time of the gardening year! I need only look around me to realize that I relish the colder, winter months. I actually get to embark upon and enjoy my yearly vacation! It starts the third week of December and usually lasts until the last week of February. I suppose I could travel if I wanted to: I’ve always wanted to visit the Ireland, to do a biking tour of it’s west coast, not to mention visiting the glorious gardens of England! [Rousham most definitely!] I could do all of that if I was passionate about it, but truth is, I’m not really.

DSC_0147Truth is, I’m a homebody and as such I am most content in my own back yard! It was that wizened friend who also caught me in a lie of sorts:

Surely you aren’t going to tell me that your entire existence revolves around your precious children [plants] are you? If that’s the case, you’d better pack it in now! And I know for a fact that second only to gardening, you have a burning passion to be a writer. Why else the near daily blog posts? Don’t get me wrong, I love reading them, they bring a smile to this wrinkle weary face, and the odd chuckle now and again, but you’ve always said that there was a book of sorts buried deep within you. You think its a gardening book? I wouldn’t be so certain. While you’re still much younger than I, from what you’ve told me, you’ve led a somewhat colorful life. I trust you’re writing it all down somewhere.’

DSC_0145 And so then, this is how I spend my winter months:

I never have been able to turn a switch and leave the fascinating world of plants behind. To borrow a phrase from a favourite author, the late Reynolds Price, guess I’m just not wired that way! And so, I spend part of my day searching out new and exciting plants that catch my eye, and with an attention span that matches the lifecycle of a fruit fly, I tend to end up with scraps of paper left flying in my wake! My green thumb rarely translates well from the out of doors to inside. I can kill a Poinsettia just by looking at it. [Speaking of which, I must remember to check this year’s experiment for water.] I do grow an Hippeastrum every year and am proud to convey that this year it appears that I will have no less than six flowers!

DSC_0133A short walk up to my room [are you reading this Deborah? It was she who caused a scandal with her post ‘In Bed with Teza!’ a year ago or so] and one will find a bakers rack that has been converted into a plant stand. Here is where my more tender-hearted of the children reside throughout the winter months. There’s Agave ‘DL’ [in honor of blogger Loree who opened my eyes to the fascinating world of Agaves and other ‘dangers’ that lurk in the garden!] a delightful Davallia fejeensis,[Rabbit foot fern] a delightful purple leafed Eucomis known as ‘Oakhurst’, a decidedly non-variegated Acanthus ‘Whitewater’ [seems I should have been more diligent in removing the foliage that reverted back to plain green, but really, its the wonderful pink and white inflorescence that piqued my interest two years ago, not to mention my two most recent additions, Dichroa febrifuga [UBC Guizhou Clone] and perhaps most cherished of all is a one gallon container that is home to two Cypripedium formosanum – a sublime terrestrial orchid, said to be one of the easier to cultivate. [Fingers crossed!] You can just make out its two green shoots in the photo below.

DSC_0134 I take up reading again – not that a book is ever far from hand – and try and focus on including a wider selection of fiction to go along with the growing number of ‘plant related’ books that line my bookshelves. Its always fun to escape, even for only the time it takes to read the latest Globe and Mail reviewed book.

The 2013 plant catalogues will start appearing in the post in the next couple of weeks, and between ingesting them wholly, I begin trolling the net for new and exciting discoveries. And amidst all of this, I indulge in a daily walk along the neighboring Cataract trail-ways – and, if fate should intervene, I will tumble down a steep embankment, bruise little more than my tailbone and ego and totally destroy the lens of my trusted camera. Sad but true!

Oh, and I almost forgot: a pleasurable amount of time will be taken up catching up with the reading of some of my favourite garden weblogs, and perhaps most important of all, I have dedicated two hours every day during which I will focus solely on the writing of that elusive book that I know resides deep inside of me. Frankly, I’d be lost without these winter months of what I’ve come to refer to as ‘the winter of my self-indulgence.’



danger garden said...

A "somewhat colorful life" eh? Get writing then...I can't wait to read it! (in January of course).

outlawgardener said...

I agree with Loree! Can't wait to read about your colorful life!

sensiblegardening said...

I very much enjoyed reading your post this morning. Actually a few months off from the daily physical grind of the garden does me good, time to read and plan, write and paint. I love doing water colours and of course I paint mostly flowers. There never seems to be enough time in the summer to do these other things I enjoy very much.

Anonymous said...

I think winter slow-down it's the ultimate test for who's a real gardener, in sink with the outside plant world! As for the inside gardening I'll make you envious one day with my almost greenhouse-like living room.
Don't give up on that book....

Barbarapc said...

So glad that you're writing. (am enjoying the read - you were indeed fated to be absorbed into the profession of both writing and gardening) Taking advantage of all this potential derriere in chair-time is very positive. Am down to one light table and this week will see if it can be fired up. I've got some exceptionally sad tropicals sitting in the basement - don't think that is what your garden friend meant by hibernation - this is borderline 'call the cops on the lady whose being cruel to her plants' behaviour. (Yes, those are the bananas you can hear moaning from under the stairs.)