Kelly, a frequent commenter, wrote:
“I shouldn’t wish my life away but I can hardly wait for spring!”
Like a smooth stone in the pocket of my favorite gardening jacket, I carried her heartfelt expression with me all week as I went about my everyday chores of home and hearth.
After much reflection, I don’t believe gardeners wish their lives away. Instead, they manage their time during winter like a mini-gardening sabbatical with photos of gardens past, books, blogs, magazines and catalogs, while they wait for spring.
In our dreams, spring is a magical place, a fabled Shangri-La, where breezes are ever gentle, and no mistakes have yet been made. Tempted by seed and plant catalogs, their photos and descriptions transport us from an icy landscape to a place where sweet peas bloom, and lettuce never bolts before we tire of it.
This year, the weather throughout much of North America contrived to be extra cold and snowy thus giving gardeners more time for hibernation. With a fire in the fireplace, a cuppa of hot tea, or a glass of fruity red wine by our side, we peruse catalogs, make lists and plan the spring and summer gardens of our imagination.
What will you plant this year? With my dear, HH, I’m finally replacing the seldom-used, swing set and children’s climbing tower (eyesore) in my backyard with a permanent vegetable garden outside the kitchen door. Based loosely on some of the designs in a now, favorite book, Designing the New Kitchen Garden: An American Potager Handbook, by Jennifer Bartley, I can hardly wait to start. I should put pen to paper, drafting designs, but knowing me, I’ll go outside, hold the book aloft, or weight it with stones while HH and I lay out the design upon the grass. One must-have is a bubbling fountain as the centerpiece. Then, paths of gravel with raised beds edged in something non-permeable is another want. I am tired of rotting boards, and I’m thinking of less maintenance as I grow older.
This is an ambitious undertaking, and I’m surprised I’m doing it now. I guess Jennifer’s book was a dream starter for me.
Another source of inspiration this winter is Jane Brocket’s The Gentle Art of Domesticity: Stitching, Baking, Nature, Art & the Comforts of Home, in which she addresses all my loves: reading (about what she calls the “gentle arts”), old movies, knitting, quilting, gardening, color and baking. The intense color palette with which she plays is similar to her blog, but against the stark, white pages the contrast intensifies the experience.
Not long ago, with a sweeping motion toward my overladen bookshelves, one of my relatives labeled me a book addict. Guilty as charged. I can’t imagine a life without books. They are a balm to my winter weary soul. Taking the natural hibernation of this quiet season and using it to learn more about gardening and other things I love, I’m not wishing my life away, I’m simply making plans and preparing to put them into action.
I’m glad I’m able to buy books and that, sometimes, publishers send them to me for review. I reviewed Jennifer’s book on Examiner last fall, and I purchased Brocket’s book for myself as an extra-special, after Christmas treat.
These are just two of the many books I’ve perused this winter. What have you read lately which inspired you?