What does a gardener do in late winter? The memory of blisters and sore muscles, late dinners, and hungry rabbits and deer is gone. I sit here trying to remember the intoxicating scent of moist earth, the actual joy of dirt under my fingernails. I forget the disappointments of seeds that didn’t germinate and crops that didn’t live up to their catalog superlatives. I think of the sight of the first crocus that rivals childhood Christmas mornings. Sore back? What sore back? Is it too early to start seeds?
The Christmas cactus has done its thing. The amaryllis no long thrills. Even the newly filled basket of crisp seed packets on display on the coffee table isn’t enough. Every mild breeze tricks me into thinking…..”This is it! Spring is here!” The rest I needed after a growing season extended by opening a garden business is complete. The itch to start all over again is as predictable as the sun coming up in the morning. Hey, speaking of the sun, have you noticed the days really are getting longer?
I do what I can. I prepare in tangential ways. I made little sachets ready to fill with aromatic herbs. I design a logo to mark my hand-made aprons and totes. My husband makes birdhouses for us and extra to sell. Can there be a better compliment than birds who love your garden? But the best surrogate is the garden plan. Anything is possible when gardening with pencil and paper. I love large formal herb gardens and pie-shaped beds in vast circles, then there’s the spiral that is so provocative. In the end, my husband bursts my bubble with the simple comment, “That’s a lot of edging.”
I’m no longer a young gardener. My three children are grown and have moved away. I come to the reality that if I want my gardens as big as I do, they better be easier to care for.