Putting the garden to bed


When winter’s chill at last draws near,

I put away summer that is so dear,

snipping dead plants over there and here,

putting the garden to bed.

A gnarled old maple drops a  leaf,

spent Day Lilies wither in a sheaf,

hostas hide yellowed leaves underneath,

putting the garden to bed.

Bright mums and sedum get a reprieve,

while dimmed summer daisies must take their leave,

and dead grass into the bin I heave,

putting the garden to bed.

As you can see, I love summer. Summer is the time when I can let  inside work slide. Piano practice music gathers dust on the rack.  Shirts awaiting the iron form first a pile, then a bunker. Junk mail piles up. Knitting sits idle. But summer novels get read and reread on warm sunny beaches and long airplane rides. I walk miles on the beach, feeling clean white Michigan sand beneath my toes.  But perhaps my favorite day-to-day part of summer is the garden. From pulling away wet dead leaves in the spring to reveal brave shoots peaking up from the cold ground, to deadheading purple petunias and red geraniums, to watching iridescent hummingbirds sip from purple fuchsia, I enjoy it all. My gardening time is about new life, growth, death, and rebirth. Each year the cycle begins anew, fresh and full of promise. And as autumn slips in, it is also about putting it all to bed, with the promise of spring to bring it all back to me again.

© Huffygirl 2016

Photos and original poem by Huffygirl ©2016.

 

Surprise me


Rock Island boat house, https://huffygirl.wordpress.com, © Huffygirl 2012I was bored. I had been home too long. I was tired of everything. Tired of all the food in the house, the TV shows, my books and games. I needed a change.

Since my son was getting ready to do the grocery shopping, in a moment of desperation I added a hasty scrawl to the bottom of the list:  “surprise me with something good and fun.” I was expecting that he’d come home with a candy bar or a box of Oreos.

Instead, he brought me light. Four shimmery little solar lanterns. I pulled out the tag and immediately was surprised with a pretty silvery glow. I tucked the lanterns into the garden, among the emerging hostas and grasses. The little lights were just right, casting a pleasing shimmery circle among the greenery. Suddenly everything seemed new and hopeful again. Sometimes all we need is just a little light.

© Huffygirl 2015

The grateful deadheader


The Deadhead Basket (© Huffygirl)

I’m going around the  garden with my deadhead basket in hand, gently snipping or pulling off spent blooms. This is my most soothing time of day. I AM the grateful deadheader – the one who pulls and snips off dead flowers, so the plant can bloom anew. I wish I had coined this phrase, grateful deadheader, but I can’t take credit. Years ago I read an article in a gardening magazine about a couple with extensive gardens, and how they divided up the work to maintain such a huge landscape. The wife pointed out that she did the deadheading and was thus the grateful deadheader. The term struck a chord – I’d never thought of deadheading as something to be grateful for. It seemed like thankless, constant work. In fact for years I purposely avoided planting anything that needed deadheading to thrive, thinking my time was much too important to spend it bringing out the dead. But, if you don’t want to deadhead, you’re severely limited in what you might plant in your garden. Begonias, Impatiens, any lazy plant where the dead blooms just fall off – these I  find too uninspired and prosaic for my garden.

Petunia transformed into a dramatic spiller. (© Huffygirl)

So, I decided to try it. I pulled out an old basket and an inexpensive pair of scissors, and left them  by the back door where I could grab them easily. And I started deadheading. Whenever I had a few minutes, I’d creep around the garden, clipping, pulling, filling my basket with dead blooms. Eventually, two things happened. My gardens really, well, blossomed. And I relished in the quiet moments I would snatch here and there to perform a task so mundane, yet so important, Why this is soothing, I still don’t know. When I’m going from plant to plant, tenderly checking for dead blooms, I get the same feeling I used to have when sneaking in to peek at my sleeping children. That sense of quiet nurturing. Plants produce flowers as their seeds; once the seeds are produced, the plant feels its work is done. Seeds ready to go, no need to put out any more energy. But clip off the seeds, the plant says “Oh, my seeds are gone, I need to produce more” and voila’ – the plant thrives, blooming like crazy, filling out, adding branches. Do not our children do the same with quiet daily nurturing? So deadhead I will. And gratefully.

Deadheaded zinnias grow from a spindly stem to a multi-branched bush. (© Huffygirl)

© Huffygirl 2011

(Disclaimer: In no way does Huffygirl mean to offend persons who plant begonias, impatiens and other self-deadheading flowers.)