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Some Assembly Required

I went to the car wash. Then I parked outside under a tree. Now I need to go again.

We went from 2 feet of snow to 85 degrees up here in Minnesota.  It’s crazy weather and has me behind in the yard.  I’m always behind in the yard, but this year that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.  The consensus up here is that it’s now summer and we had 1 beautiful day of spring.

Some of the season’s work isn’t actually in the yard at all.  I took a load to Goodwill.  I took my car to the car wash.  I’m trying to figure out what to do with all the “stuff” I’ve brought back from my parents house.  It’s not easy keeping motivated.

One day this weekend I threw my hands in the air and bought one of those outdoor storage benches.  I wanted to get the yard furniture cushions out of my dinning room.  I expected to shove a bin in the back of my car.  Silly me.  Instead it was a box, and directions.

This is before I realized it was supposed to be a 2 person job.

Apparently the current world view is that pictographs are much easier to follow than words.  That’s only true if you’re in translation with a bad editor, but hey.  I was more than half way through the project before I got to the step that said, this step requires 2 people.  I DON’T HAVE 2 PEOPLE!   But I am determined and managed despite having “inadequate tools” for the job.

I seem to be in the one step forward two steps back mode.  (I know, it’s supposed to go the other way around but it sure doesn’t feel like it.)  I did 5 minutes of trimming brush before I got wacked on the head with a buckthorn.   Little branch, hit me just right.  Thorn cut the skin, head wound, lots of bleeding but actually no big deal.  Still, it made me much less ambitious about the project.

Gardening is dangerous work!

I did give myself a reward by making a lovely dinner.  If only I could figure out how to use the grill….

Dinner was lovely though.

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Gardening

This is the "before".  I've talked about digging the strawberries out of the grass in previous blogs.

This is the “before”. I’ve talked about digging the strawberries out of the grass in previous blogs.

I skipped last week’s post.  I’d like to say it was because I was in the garden.  I was, some.  Memorial Day weekend for us is typically cool and rainy, and this was no exception.  It’s also a big gardening weekend.  The tomatoes go in, now that we’re “safely” past the frost.  We’ve got such a short season that delaying past Memorial Day means possibly no harvest.

This is the "after".  I've got a ring dug out.  Yes, those are squash - hopefully they'll keep the grass down once the strawberries are done for the season.

This is the “after”. I’ve got a ring dug out. Yes, those are squash – hopefully they’ll keep the grass down once the strawberries are done for the season.

This year Memorial Day was early and the season late.  I order my plants from a company in Oregon. (Hoping that they’ll be climate ready when they arrive, which isn’t true if I order from a company in New Mexico!)  I finally called them, seeing no sign of the plants “shipping date May 15th” I was wondering if they’d received my order!  Apparently they are having unseasonable weather along with the rest of the country.  The plants aren’t ready to be shipped.

I dug some of my containers out from under the grapevines.  You honestly couldn't even see them before (kind of like that mess in the background)

I dug some of my containers out from under the grapevines. You honestly couldn’t even see them before (kind of like that mess in the background)

Part of me appreciates the extra time.  I’ve made comments about recovering my gardens from years of neglect.  I won’t get it done this year, but I am making slow progress.  One of my Facebook friends commented that she wanted to see photos – so that’s what this post is really about.

Got a start on the wildflowers/butterfly garden.  The bergamot seems to be holding it's own, but the columbine needed some help.

Got a start on the wildflowers/butterfly garden. The bergamot seems to be holding it’s own, but the columbine needed some help.

Hopefully my plants will arrive soon and I’ll have tomatoes before September!

The peonies seem happy to have some breathing room!

The peonies seem happy to have some breathing room!

Onion and salad greens are starting to show and peas where the tomatoes ought to be.

Onion and salad greens are starting to show and peas where the tomatoes ought to be.

Fertility

Fiddleheads are a delicious spiral treat in the spring

Fiddleheads are a delicious spiral treat in the spring

This year when I think about fertility rituals I am also recognizing the impact of my recent hysterectomy.  I’ve always been happy to include new beginnings and creative endeavors in my fertility rituals.  This year required a little more depth of thought.

It's nice to see the daffodils come up through the garden wreckage

It’s nice to see the daffodils come up through the garden wreckage

I have been blogging about reclaiming my garden spaces.  It really has been a long time since I’ve worked in some of them.  I’m grateful for the things that continue to come up, in spite of the total neglect.  That persistence is part of my understanding of fertility.  The strong desire to live, and to thrive.

Peas are sprouting.

Peas are sprouting.

There’s also an appreciation for the new.  The first flowers, the baby peas, and planting the annuals are all a part of spring awakening.  When the trees start to blossom it’s like fireworks.  The allergens may make my head a little “thick”, but my heart opens up.  Even the dandelions make me smile.

Maybe I'll get some plums this year.

Maybe I’ll get some plums this year.

As I’m digging in the ground it occurs to me that fertile earth is ready.  It’s full of potential, ready to accept and nurture whatever I may choose to plant.  It is willing to be willing.  I think this year that’s my challenge.

Digging in the dirt is just another way to celebrate spring.

Digging in the dirt is just another way to celebrate spring.

I’ve been through a lot, and it’s time to move forward.  It’s time to open up and accept whatever is offered.  It’s about being ready, being willing to be willing.   Hopefully all this new growth around me will inspire me to continue to take chances and accept the challenges and opportunities life throws my way.

Blessed May!

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Previous blogs about Beltane and the first of May:

SpringMayBonus BlogBeltaine

Greening

dandelions in the park

dandelions in the park

April showers didn’t bring us much of anything except grey day after grey day.  May showers on the other hand have finally brought spring to the north!  Even on a rainy day, there is enough green to combat the grey.  The world around me is blossoming and I’m making an effort to spend time outside to enjoy it.

Johnny Jump-ups voluntarily spot my lawn

Johnny Jump-ups voluntarily spot my lawn

I like the cooler (but not cold) days and the frequent rains have kept the pollen count to a tolerable level.  I’m trying to reclaim some of my gardens.  It’s still a challenge.  My up and down can get a little unsteady.  My back is limiting both my carrying capacity and how much time I can spend at any one task.  My shoulder makes reaching and pulling a challenge.  Even so I’m making progress and enjoying every minute of it.

Pansy goes in each year for my Mother's Mother an avid gardener with simple tastes.

Pansy goes in each year for my Mother’s Mother an avid gardener with simple tastes.

As I get to dig again in my ancestor garden I call up bittersweet memories of love and loss.  There are people  I honor here who I would love to be able to share this season with, and I suppose in a way I do.  I have mixed feelings as well as I dig through the strawberry bed.  This was my ex-husband’s project.  There’s very little about it that went with my suggestions and so it’s not designed to be easy for me to maintain.  It’s a garden in the front yard and I knew if I didn’t at least make some effort the neighbors would start fussing.  It’s amazing to me how well the strawberries have managed in spite of total neglect for several years.  There’s a resilience in this garden that asks me to be resilient as well.

strawberry blossom

strawberry blossom

With all the fresh new growth and warmth I feel for my friends who are being challenged with the deaths of their loved ones.  This time of year is so contrary to anyone trying to grieve.  I know the feeling where you want the world to stop right along with you, and it doesn’t.  But I also know that there is a gentle consolation inherent in the obvious manifestation of the cycle of life.

Love and blessing to all my friends who are challenged with loss in this season.

Ancestors

Between the late season and my asthma I haven’t spent a lot of time in the garden this year.   I was on Blog Talk Radio the other day talking about magic in the garden.  I mentioned one of the beds I have is an ancestor garden.  Given that it’s Memorial Day Monday and that I’ve been trying to get the annuals in (between thunder showers) that seemed to be a good topic for today’s blog.

Heather doesn't grow well here, and the lavender doesn't winter well so my Irish heritage gets a pot this year.

Heather doesn’t grow well here, and the lavender doesn’t winter well so my Irish heritage gets a pot this year.

My ancestor garden is the one along side the driveway, next to the entry we most frequently use.  That way I see it all the time, winter and summer.  Winter gardens are a real challenge up here, and my ancestor bed doesn’t make it, but just knowing it’s there under the snow is a reminder that my ancestors may no longer be with me, but that they are still there.

My ancestors are a mish-mash.  I have represented ancestors of blood, ancestors of heart, and ancestors of spirit.  My best friend from college is an ancestor of heart.  He died 16 years ago and I still miss him almost every day. You’ve seen my bulbs, the tulips and hyacinths.  (The trails are fading under the lavender.)  He was a big fan of the spring flower shows.  The bulbs I started there were from a spring planter he’d gifted to me the year before he died.  My hope in the spring is also a hope that he’s still watching out for me.  I usually manage to get a fall mum in for him as well.

viola's (the nursery was out of pansy's)

viola’s (the nursery was out of pansy’s)

My grandmother’s were both gardeners.  My maternal grandmother grew sweet peas, but I’ve never gotten them to go.  She also grew pansy’s and petunias.  This year I put in viola’s for her.  Those old-fashioned wild flowers are all very much representative of her country farm wife ways.  My other grandmother had a flair for the exotic.  She’d plant cotton bringing the seeds back from a trip south.  Or she’d plant silver dollars for good fortune.  There’s a hybrid daisy that thrives in that garden for her.  The colors are bright and cheerful and I’ve never found another in the seed catalogues quite like it.  Maybe I’ll post a photo when it blooms.

dusty miller sometimes winters over, but this is a new plant.

dusty miller sometimes winters over, but this is a new plant.

The kid’s paternal grandmother loved dusty miller.  It was her favorite, I asked.  I don’t particularly care for the plant, but when I put it in honoring her, it even winters over.  I’ve come to appreciate its strength, resilience and alien simplicity.  Now when I see it grow I smile and think of her kindness and patience.

For ancestors of the spirit you may see some Russian sage coming up between the chocolate mint.  The sage is for one of my teachers.  Russian sage is perennial and he had a fondness for Occidental cultures.  The mint is a nod to the cooks, family and otherwise, who have influenced me along the way.  I got it out of a friend’s garden in Detroit so there is an extra nod to her along the way.

Chocolate mint and Russian sage

Chocolate mint and Russian sage

The cycle of the garden is a microcosm of the cycle of life.  Honoring my ancestors in this way I spend time tending their memories throughout the growing season and even in the winter.  I pick and choose my annuals, filling in the blanks and sometime adding a new memorial for a season or as a permanent addition.  These people are my foundation.  They continue to nurture me in my journey as I nurture my garden.   Blessed Be.

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