Saturday, November 24, 2007

A gardener gives thanks

Thanksgiving was two days ago. For my non-US readers (Do I have any non-US readers?), Thanksgiving is a day set aside for us to focus on what we are thankful for, as well as a day devoted to getting together with family and friends to eat large quantities of food, especially turkey. As a gardener, I have even more to be thankful for than my non-gardening friends. Here are just a few of those things:

  • My garden itself, with its great variety. I'm fortunate enough to have lots of different growing conditions in my 1/3 acre lot: full sun, part sun, morning sun, afternoon sun, dry shade, damp shade, and woodland. There's a creek too, with boggy soil at one end, which makes my skunk cabbage happy.
    Dangerously close to a skunk cabbage blossom
  • A big white pine that makes one section of the garden smell like a campground in the Sierras
  • The cool bean tepee my husband built for me a few years ago
  • My greenhouse, where I can putter on cold days, start flats of veggies and annuals in the spring, and overwinter my ever-growing collection of citrus trees
  • The pretty yellow daisies that pop up every spring under the Asian pear tree. They came from my husband's grandmother's yard. I don't know what they are, but they're bright and cheery, and the bees like them.
  • Hellebores. In January, when the garden lies barren and asleep, and the mud is so thick I run the risk of sinking up to my knees whenever I set foot on the soil, the hellebores provide a spot of color and a reminder that spring is just around the corner.
    Hellebore Hellebore
  • Tomatoes -- Some years are better for warm-season veggies than others, but tomatoes never fail me completely. One of the greatest pleasures of vegetable gardening is biting into the first ripe tomato of the season, still warm from the sun.
  • The pair of mallard ducks that visit every spring. I don't know where they spend the winter or where they go after they leave our place, but a pair have come every spring since we moved in eleven years ago. They're fun to watch, especially when they're chowing down on the army of slugs that infest my yard (and for which I cannot bring myself to be grateful).
    Mr. Duck
  • Compost. I pile up kitchen waste, weeds, spent annuals, leaves, and old straw, wait a few months, and something magic happens: Instead of the smelly gunk, there's earthy-smelling black compost, ready to nourish the next generation of weeds... er, I mean garden plants.
  • The first sunny weekend day of the year. We usually get ours sometime in February, and it's magical. After two or three months of being inside, I rush out to prepare vegetables, weed flower beds, and boost my vitamin D for a few hours. Despite years of experience to the contrary, I imagine that spring is really here and start making grand plans for getting cool-season crops in early. Naturally the rain returns in a day or two, and I'm back to armchair gardening for another month. But for a couple glorious days, anything seems possible.
  • Bags of leaves and pine needles from the grounds of our church. Each fall church folk rake up and bag these precious materials, and I haul them away. Then I mulch the veggie and flower beds with leaves, and mulch the blueberries and paths with pine needles. Come spring, I have rich soil and few weeds, perfect for spring planting.
  • Seeds. Is there anything in the gardener's world with more potential than a packet of seeds? Anything more magical than seeing the tiny seedlings poke through the soil? Any greater feeling of accomplishment than harvesting veggies you grew from seed?

So often I focus on what's wrong with my garden -- weeds, slugs, and the endless to-do list (pruning, mowing, watering, fertilizing... *sigh*). How wonderful to spend a few minutes thinking about what's right.


Glickster said...

For more about Hellebores:

Janet said...

Thanks for the link. The site has great prices on hellebores; my order is on the way.