Thursday, November 12, 2009

New Rules... and a Personal Note or Two

For the past seven months I have written this blog as well as another one. In this one I planned to follow the progress of my garden in Central Virginia and try to offer insight and advice to newer gardeners. Altho I have only worked my current garden for ten years, and it is the first one that I have developed myself from scratch, I have worked for many years in other folks' gardens - my mother's, my grandmother's, my aunt's, and my father-in-law's. I have learned from all of them, but have enjoyed going my own way with this garden.

It was my intention that the other blog would be a place where I would comment on the world and current events, and whatever caught my fancy. Unfortunately, I have recently found that I have had extensive writer's block for the other blog ... absolutely nothing has caught my fancy! Altho I had plenty to say here, I have not posted in nearly two months because I was so consumed with trying to figure out what to do "over there". Finally, sanity prevailed. I realized that I truly enjoy writing this blog; that this one has the focus that the other has lacked. So, I have decided to let the other blog lie fallow for a while and work here.

Since it's the fall, with winter well on the way, it may be difficult, but it's the right decision. For the next few months we will look at more guest gardens when we can. I have a number of ideas for a "how to" series to help newer gardeners get ready for spring, or to just give basic information. I may do some surfing and see what's going on in the gardening world elsewhere. And, we can't forget the pond - it's an important part of the garden. In other words, I am not quite sure what I'll write about, but I know that it will be related to the garden. I am also committing to at least one post a week thru February. There may be more than that, but I promise at least one.

I hope you will enjoy this blog and will stay with me. If you are not interested, I understand. Gardening is not for everyone. But what I finally realized is that it is for me!

Guest Garden - Urban Style

It's a lovely, crisp fall day in downtown D.C. and nestled among government office buildings and national museums we found the perfect urban garden!

In one of the many triangles formed when "state" streets cross the numbered and lettered streets is a marvelous urban garden plot. The land is owned by the National Park Service and will someday be the home of a monument to Dwight David Eisenhower - president, general, and cold war leader - but for now it is the home of about twenty garden plots.

The lone gardener that morning was a lady who has held onto her plot for years, she told us, and who admitted that although she and a friend have the rights to two plots, she has squatted on half a dozen others as their "owners" have deserted them. Apparently it is difficult to locate the coordinator, so the plots don't turn over very efficiently. When an owner loses interest or gets too busy to keep up with the work, she takes a little piece here and a little piece there to plant a little something more.

On the morning we met she was pulling up veggies that had suffered from the frost last week, and clearing out the last of the summer weeds. She had already cleared most of her two "legal" plots where she grows mostly vegetables and a few summer annuals. In an adjacent space she has some peonies that are buried too deep and need some attention. In another plot she has some Brussels sprouts and in a fourth, winter greens. She showed us several of her neighbors' plots where we found everything from tomatoes to exotic greens and from roses to masses of overgrown.... whatever! Unfortunately, most of the whole plot was in the sort of disarray that happens in the fall when the gardener loses interest, or it gets too cold to get outside.

In some ways this is the Cadillac of garden plots. Much of it is fenced and there is water available. [The killer for so many urban gardens is the need to carry in water. Most people just can't bring in enough water often enough to keep gardens going in the heat of a city.] There are also a couple of lean-to sheds for storing small equipment.

We promised not to tell the exact location of this garden, since the gardener hopes to gather up some more space and doesn't want the competition! She also doesn't want the park service to get the money for the Eisenhower monument any time soon! It was a lovely place to spend a few minutes and to make a new acquaintance!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"The Time Has Come the Walrus Said....

To speak of many things.... of shoes and ships, and sealing wax; of cabbages and kings." Don't know much about any of them, but it's also time to talk about a focus for this blog.

In March when I awoke to the most gorgeous snow of a decade, I was moved to write about it. Enjoying that, I decided it was time to try my hand at writing a bit. I enjoy writing, but most of my work is business-related and I wanted to give creative writing a try. I had in mind to do some essays or criticism or something else creative.

The blog seemed like the perfect way to start. I know there are a couple of you "out there" who read my efforts now and then (one tells me she looks nearly daily, and I thank you very much!), but mostly I know that only I go to the garden bench at all. I thoroughly enjoy working on my blog, but recently I find that nothing piques my curiosity and I have no real inspiration. After much thought, I realize that it's because I have no focus. I read many other blogs - mostly by other women - and enjoy many of them regularly. But I see that most of them do have a focus. If you haven't already done so, you should look at Drawing In, Charlene's Balance Beam and The Money Pit.

Ms. Carolyn Bender (Drawing In) actually got me into this. I have followed her blog for several years and she does the kind of interesting essays that I desire to do, but she either spends way more time on the Internet sniffing out ideas, or she is way more creative than I. [I suspect both are true.] I have also found a number of good gardening blogs that I enjoy, and some others that specialize in music or women's issues that interest me from time to time, but nothing has given me any inspiration for mine.

I enjoyed writing about our trip this summer, but that was sheer personal indulgence. I considered writing about Michelle Obama, whom I find endlessly interesting, but decided that: a) it would be hard to find something new to say at least weekly, and b) it would be too much like stalking! Someone already has a blog about Brian Williams' daily choice of necktie, and I just don't really have an interest in cupcakes.

What does interest me - way more often - is my garden blog. Gardening is one of two or three things that I really enjoy doing, and I know enough about it to share. The garden changes endlessly, giving me something to observe and ... write about. So, while I reserve the right to return to the garden bench now and then when something does interest me, or I have an opinion that I want to share, but for a while I think I will concentrate on sharing the garden with you.

I have picked the worst possible time of year, with everything dying back, but I have some ideas for a series of "how to's" and I think I will commit for now to writing at least weekly - rather than more often and we'll see how it goes. So, I hope you will follow me out into the backyard and help me get my hands dirty!

Thanks for being there the past eight months.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Nov. 2nd - Happy Birthday, Garland!

A belated, but happy, birthday to Garland - the last of my Wise Women. It was she who encouraged me to keep my hands in the dirt until I realized that gardening is in the blood, not in the head. She taught me about native plants, and the white plants which she loves. She tolerated my flaming pinks, as she encouraged me to design with color.

When we sold our house - and garden - out from under ourselves, she sheltered and nurtured my perennials as I spirited them out of the garden before we closed the sale and the new owners took over. Everywhere you look in my garden are pass-along plants from hers, like the sedum 'Angelina' that are a firey gold even today. When she moved to North Carolina she left behind enough of her garden that I can feel like she is here with me every day.

At work she helped me to stop assuming the worst of everyone. I will not claim to have learned to assume the best, as she does, but at least she prodded me along the continuum. She helped me with patience and taught me how important packaging is - in life.

We shared books and altho our taste is rather different, she introduced me to Diana Gobaldon and together we devoured her stories of Jamie Fraser. She taught me that if I buy a new jacket every season, I can get away with my old clothes for one more year. And, that short hair is best for some women of a certain age. But the biggest gift was the gift of her friendship.

I miss her almost daily, but have only to sit for a few minutes to know that some of the wisdom in my life comes from Garland. Now, if only she had taught me timeliness!