Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Nov. 11: The Brighter Side of the Day Off

I had forgotten, after a summer not terribly conducive to gardening, how satisfying a good garden session can be.

And exhausting, as well.

Two items lurked in my mind: bulbs and "putting the garden to bed." Bulbs are ideal because they are a huge boon of color, life, and hope that appears when there seems to be little of any in our Maine landscape, and putting the garden to bed because I tend to be bad at that stage of the process, partly because I like to leave seedheads for the birds, and partly because I am a Memorial Day to Labor Day garden since I teach in a public school. A logical time to attend to both items is, of course, our day off--both because it's a treat, and because it's a nice climatory time to plant and trim. SO, this morning, I headed off to get potting soil to plant some hyacinths for forcing and some more bulbs to plant around the trees by the church. I found organic potting soil and, to my delight, bulbs for 50% off, so I got 42 assorted daffodil bulbs and 12 assorted hyacinths for about $12, and the work commenced.

Home first: I had thought of two gardens, one at home and one at church, but of course there are two at home, small ones but each full of tall reedy things to cut down before raking free of oak leaves. I did that, then corralled some small pots for bulb forcing and also planted a few new daffs (BH bought me 6 lovely new bulbs of good ol' King Alfred from a fundraiser at his school) and a few hyacinths in the newly cleaned beds. Lunch after an hour and a half of work tasted pretty good. . . . and then I rooted myself out of my chair and headed down to the church to plant bulbs there and clean the upper, and more visible, garden.

There the real work began! The soil around the trees was packed and hard, and the one trowel I'd carelessly brought nearly broke, so I ended up doing a lot of sod removal, invention, and plain ol' digging. Got the four trees done, planted, and fertilized, however, and I do hope that April next year is bright and pretty around those maples' ankles. Daffodils will come back, and it would be great to start a legacy of yellow (and white with orange trumpet and plain ol' white) happiness!

Cleaning up the front bed followed: I was already sweaty, and the cutting was satisfying and dirty too. The globe thistle from my beloved mil is on its third flowering this year, so I left its brave blue shoots there for the birds, but otherwise I cut and pulled and raked and neatened, then truly put everything to bed with some nasty old hay from last year as mulch. It looks kempt and restful, and since a lot of the hay already had worms breaking it down, I'm hoping that when we rake it up next Spring some of it will have decayed completely. I slipped a few new bulbs into gaps in that garden, too, and then staggered home to force myself to put away all the tools and then collapsed into bed for a rest/drowse/nap for an hour.

But how nice to have done all that! I keep thinking of those bulbs, and that hay, and those quiet gardens. "Put the garden to bed"--it's a great image, and I am so glad to have done it! Let it rain, let it snow, let it freeze. I'm ready!

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