The crews cutting up the huge oak tree that fell on our neighbor’s house over the weekend kindly let us have a load of wood chips for our garden. The pile is plenty big and we are happily sharing with other neighbors, but it was so nice to cover our garden walkways and surround our garden boxes with the last of the old oak. A fitting tribute to a great old tree that we will miss.
It seems like just a short time ago I was busy in the garden, enjoying the warm sunshine and the work of preparing the garden for winter. My cover crops are planted and happy with the cool and the rain. All is settled in the garden, but I find myself feeling rather blue. We have turned our clocks back, the skies are very gray most days, and the drenching rains have returned. I miss my gardening time outdoors!
So, as late Fall and early Winter settle in, it is time to refocus my energies on projects, plans, and reading. My friends-in-books bring me solace as I mourn my summer gardening time, and remind me to keep things in perspective… May Sarton gently reminds me to be patient with the winter darkness, for “Without darkness, nothing comes to birth, As without light, nothing flowers.” And one of my favorite poets describes a lot about my own November doldrums but celebrates this seemingly bleak time of year.
My November Guest
~by Robert Frost
My Sorrow, when she’s here with me,
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
She walks the sodden pasture lane.
Her pleasure will not let me stay.
She talks and I am fain to list:
She’s glad the birds are gone away,
She’s glad her simple worsted gray
Is silver now with clinging mist.
The desolate, deserted trees,
The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so truly sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these,
And vexes me for reason why.
Not yesterday I learned to know
The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
And they are better for her praise.
Living in the Pacific Northwest, with its very gray and rainy winters, could be very gloomy indeed, but despite my melancholy, I share much of Robert Frost’s beautifully described love of bare November days. I, too, love my soggy walks in the beauty of those stark days–walks along sodden paths with bare, withered trees, and under heavy skies…
We are all stressed by the unusually hot temperatures this week! Humans and garden, both! I’m spending a lot of time in the early mornings and late evenings watering and just trying to keep things alive. I’m amazed at the resiliency of plants, and how much they appreciate being cared for.
Inspired by the gorgeous Crimson Clover fields that surround much of our town, we bought a bag of Crimson Clover seed to plant in the empty garden area next to the garage. It is the future site of my Butterfly Garden, but since we’re not quite ready to build that garden, we decided to try planting the clover as a “cover crop” to enrich the soil.
We cleared our “mini-field” and prepared it for planting in November. It was very late in the season, but we remembered the advice of our salty old gardening neighbor, Mr. Cahoon, (“half of what you plant will die, but half will live!) and decided to give it a try. We broadcast the seeds just before a series of rainstorms moved into our area, and we saw immediate results! The seeds sprouted almost at once and just continued to amaze us with their growth over the winter months.
And then spring came and we knew we were going to have a beautiful mini-field of clover for our bees and the neighborhood to enjoy!
There’s a sunny patch of ground at the side of the driveway and old garage that we would like to turn into a butterfly garden. It’s been a weed patch for years, but the husband cleared out the weeds and grass this week, a first big step in creating that special garden. However, we’re not ready to start the butterfly garden yet, so we decided to put in a “cover crop” to help enrich that soil and get rid of the weedy wilderness look. We have a bag of Crimson Clover seeds and decided to toss them out there and see what happens. If they don’t grow, no problem. If they do…well, the patch will look a lot better over the winter and into the spring!