Thursday, December 29, 2005

Reflections from Christmas

Christmas time – resting time. With the rest of the year running at approximately 180 mph these days provide a much needed chance the rest. And a chance to read. As always I wanted books for Christmas, gardening books. And, apparently I've been good during the year because books I got. I have to admit that I make quite specific wishes for Christmas. I have been known to include the ISBN-number. But on the other hand how is the family supposed to know what books are of interest. I absolute love gardening books and especially gardening essays. The all time favorite is The Gardener’s Year by Karel Capek. It has everything a great gardening book should have - wisdom, experience, humor and words of comfort for those moments when the bugs seem to win the battle. The trend these last years has been that I have become less and less interested in the how-to books. Less interested in what we do to the garden and more interested in what it does to us.

Being a time for reflection as Christmas is I have been reflecting upon why I am so passionate about gardening and not about say, motorcycles or sports (ehh, yes…). I have heard lots of theories as to why we garden – both God and Darwin seem to have been involved in some of the more philosophical theories. My answer to the question is that I really don’t know but that I am happy to have an interest that is so rewarding. Maybe it is just a coincidence that it was gardening that got me and not something else.

Come to think about it, I believe I owe at least a part of my gardening interest to two men. One is my father – himself a passionate gardener and collector of rhododendrons – the other one is an unknown nurseryman. I might have been around four years old when my father took me to the local nursery to buy some plants, flowers, a shrub perhaps, I don’t know. What I do know is that we passed a rack of petunias. They were white, pink, blue. When we had finished our shopping the nurseryman looked at me and said: “I’ll give you something”. And then he reached for a pink petunia and said: “This is yours, Take care of it”. Oh, was I proud! I, Linn, a lady of four years was the owner of a plant. When we came home it was planted on a good and sunny spot in the garden where it would thrive and where it could be seen. Every day I went to it. Talked to it. Watered it. Deadheaded it. It was probably the most spoilt plant in the country. And it was a grateful one. It flowered and flowered and flowered all summer long. Even today, almost thirty years later, a smile come to my face when I think about it. My first very own plant.

If you want your children to enjoy gardening, don’t make them weed the vegetable garden or use them to fetch tools. That doesn’t spark any passion. Give them a plant that is their own. Help them to make it thrive. It might change their lives. (And yes, it is allowed to water the plant, weed around it and mulch it when the child is asleep to ensure the survival of it - just don't tell the child.)

Friday, December 16, 2005

Garden Quote of Today

Gardening is an exercise in optimism. Sometimes, it is the triumph of hope over experience"
--Marina Schinz

Thanks to Nelumbo for the quote.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Garden sick

I want to dig! Honestly! I want to dig big holes in the lawn and plant shrubs and trees. Dig somewhat smaller holes around it; remove yet another piece of lawn and plant ground covering perennials. You’ve got it. I suffer from garden sickness.

The ground is frozen and there is no chance whatsoever to get a spade into it. People (non-gardening people that is) tend to look a bit funny when I tell them I like to dig. I know digging is hard work. You get dirty and sweaty but it is also very rewarding. Not only do you get a full body workout, you also get a reason to go to the nursery and buy a plant or two – what gym or aerobics class can provide such an offer? The main reason for my digging craze however is that digging is more than exercise and a chance to put yet another plant into the garden – it is a source for stress relief. When I dig, I dig. I put every frustrating event from the day and put it into the force of the spade. Tensions get relieved. The mind get to rest and after a few descent sized holes, the troubles usually seem a bit less troublesome.

But now it’s December. What to do? Reading gardening magazines does not help – I need the physical aspect of gardening. If you promise not to tell anyone I’ll let you in on a secret… I have started exercising. Honestly! Me! Believe it or not but it is a fact. Desperate situations call for desperate actions.

What would be needed is some kind of de-escalating program for garden lovers to follow every fall. I suggest a five step-program.

Step one: Look around the garden and say: “Winter is coming. I will rest and enjoy other things than gardening”. When you can say this without starting to run around and scream or starting to cry you are ready for step two. Serous gardening maniacs may need to start the therapy in June to reach step two before Christmas.

Step two: After a day of gardening, bring every tool back to the tool shed or where they are supposed to be (no, no… not where they usually are, where they are SUPPOSED to be). Every time say: “I bring my tools back to prevent them from lying scattered in the garden during the winter”.

Step three: Stop gardening before dark. Yes, I know the days are getting shorter and shorter. That’s the whole idea. This gives a natural lowering of the amount of daily gardening and a good preparation for next step.

Step four: Choose a gray and rainy day and say: “I choose not to garden today”. Let the decision sink in. Keep busy and do not cheat. The fourth step is the most difficult one, so take your time. Do not get over ambitious and promise yourself not to garden on a sunny day. That could ruin the whole five-step-program. Start with a rainy day. Then continue with a cloudy day and, after a while and depending on how severe a gardening maniac you are, you can keep away from gardening even on a sunny day.

Step five: Almost there. You should now feel a lot calmer and more relaxed and be ready to face a non-gardening winter. The final step means finding a hobby that does not involve gardening. Almost anything is ok: stamp collecting, Tibetan throat singing, ballet dancing. No, staring out of the window does not count as a hobby!

See, now the winter will pass more easily than ever before. Maybe I should write a self-help book. It could even be a TV-show. Hmm, what network would be interested?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Garden quote of today

Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them
- A. A. Milne, Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh