I know it's February 13th and the thermometer says nine--yes 9, degrees--and there's still white
stuff all over the ground out there, but I KNOW Spring is coming, soon--because I have been buried under at least 24 Nursery catalogues--some of the same ones come every Tuesday, like they have a deadline to meet. Every one has a "come-on line--"gettcher giant polyanthus before it's all gone! See the newest and most gigantic platter-sized zinnias, here!--Order before March 1st and get 40% off everything! Free shipping before February 28th! Free earthworms with every order!!" Okey, I just threw that in there. But, I have to tell you that I "caved" and have already placed my orders. It's just such a "long Winter's Eve-in-Minnesota" thing to do--something to look forward to while you're scraping the crust of ice off your windshield.
I love to garden and I love my gardens, past and present. Just like I draw my quilt designs on graph paper, I draw out my garden designs the same way. Here are the drawings I made for a good friend who wanted an all-blue garden.
My first garden was 49 years ago, when we bought the Victorian house.
The house was built on solid clay. I didn't know that you were supposed to dig out the clay and replace it with lovely, rich, garden soil. I just kept trying to grow things in the clay and wondering why I was such a rotten gardener.
After all--I came from "gardeners". My Mom and Dad had a huge vegetable garden, plus grapevines and dwarf peach trees--in Upstate New York--. I used to get paid a penny for each Japanese beetle I knocked off the grapevines into my little can of gasoline. And one of my most enduring memories of childhood is watching my Dad lean out the attic window with his 22, shooting the barn rats off the tops of the corn stalks. They would sneak over from the farm next door and we'd see the corn tassels shake. BOOM! Well, it was only a 22, so it didn't really go BOOM! but, to a little kid, it was pretty exciting.
The one thing I did learn at River's Bend--the Victorian house--was how to do the "Minnesota Tip". Nope, not a tricky dance step to do at the VFW. Nuh Uh--not a Nordic drinking game. This is how Northern Minnesotans attempt to grow hybrid Tea roses. When it looks like it's about to turn really cold and maybe snow (usually the day before Halloween) we rush outside with our trusty garden spades and behind each and every rose bush, we dig a little trench, maybe 3 feet deep. Then we go to the front of the trembling little shrub, stick the spade into the ground just far enough away so's not to hit any roots, and--TIP!!--backwards into the trench it goes. Cover it up with dirt, pat it down--all tucked in for the Winter! That's the Minnesota Tip! The hard part is remembering where you buried them, come Spring.
My second garden was all sand--in the middle of twenty acres of woods--where we built our great adventure--The Log House. Those of you who have ever built a house know that when the house is finished, it is surrounded by DIRT. Which turns into MUD the first Spring that you are there. Which the dogs and small children appreciate, but you, who have to clean them up, do not.
However, a new house is a wonderful opportunity to plan a garden from scratch, and because we built our house next-door to the old, defunct, gravel pit, I had to learn a new kind of gardening--sandy soil, no more clay, and all sun, no shade. I learned to water, water, water.
One year, I fell in love with the look and smell of cocoa bean mulch, so we piled a dozen bags in the back of the truck and deposited them all on the driveway. The next morning, they were all gone--nowhere! not a trace! AHA!! We followed the drag marks into the woods, where, about 50 yards in, we found every single bag. Each bag had been chewed open and tasted. Bad Bear!! Very Disappointed Bear! Didn't taste at all as good as it smelled, did it?
My gardens are always 'way too crowded with plants of every color. I'm always trying to have a complete showing of colors with every bloom time. No showcasing species examples in my yard! My fr