Monday, January 3, 2011

The Winter of our discontent…

I feel like every winter is.
What more can we do in the Northwest but wait. We wait for spring. We wait to see what has survived and what may have been done in. We wait for warmth. We wait for our new seed purchases to get here. We wait to see of ponds and fountains are ok. We wait for a thaw. Winter really feels like a time for waiting…
It seems like nature waits too but this is actually not the case at all. Only in the most cold of temperatures do plants go completely dormant, and even in that state they are still living. Just because we cannot see the growth does not mean they are not alive and thriving. Often, with many, many plants, they are doing some of their best work in the winter. Deep in the soil they are growing stronger roots. Bulbs are utilizing their nutrition they stored up from the previous year to create their vibrant colorful blooms for the coming spring. And life, although at times slowly and most often unseen by us, is working its way thru their tiny roots to get ready for when, in an arena that can only be described as miraculous, the time is right for them to burst forth. For us mere mortals it is tortuous. If you are anything like me, you are constantly glancing outside, looking around for any visible sign of growth…anything that will herald the renewal of life.
Ask any woman that has given birth. It may take many weeks for anything to appear different on the outside, but inside it’s like a factory. DNA is hard at work. Cells are replicating, fingers and toes are being formed, and the very essence of life as we understanding is going thru some of the most magical changes it will ever accomplish…all without most of us even being aware of it!
Winter is a garden at it’s industrial best. Talk about behind the scenes labor. The foundational building blocks for the future of the plant are being created. Where we see a time of dormancy, of rest, there is actually countless things occurring to ensure the success and fruitfulness of another year.
I have had to reinvent how I look at winter, if not because of scientific reasons…for my own sanity. Not only for my gardens but for myself. Yes, life does seem to slow down in winter, and we do seem to have to wait for life to it forth again. But the reality is that this is only our perception because the garden is, at a basic building block level, working very hard to set it’s self up for the coming changes. A time when everything works together to bring to life the glory of this ’down’ time…what we perceive as dormancy, nature only sees a time of hidden agendas, working just as hard as the rest of the year to ensure healthy life is ready for the time it is needed.
So take hope my friends. Nature is not dead nor does she truly sleep. Perhaps the appearance of this is more for us. Perhaps it is we that need the rest. Perhaps we should learn this simple lesson from nature. That for us to be at our best as the sun begins to warm the soil, we must have a time when we do not need to mow, or hedge, or harvest…and if…if we have done what nature does each year, we will have stored our energies up and will take this season for what it was intended to be. A time when the most basic tools for our success are being restored. Invigorated by nature herself so that when those first days of spring arrive, we are prepared to meet them head on…
Happy (restful) Gardening,

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