Dreaming a Garden into Existence

I used to wish for nice trails close by that I could ramble along for my daily walk, but now I’m grateful just to be able to walk up and down the street in front of my house. It’s approximately a quarter of a mile from my house to where the street ends, which means I am never more than a quarter of a mile from finishing, so feel as if I can push myself a bit. (Today I did two miles!) I still remember days when I’d go out in the desert walking, and sometimes I didn’t gauge my strength well enough, and I’d end up practically crawling back. It’s nice not having to worry about that, especially with a knee that’s still healing. Another benefit is that there’s no real danger along that stretch of road. There is little traffic and what dogs there are mostly stay inside.

In a way, it reminds me of where Jeff and I lived. We were bounded by farmland and highways, so the only place to walk was the country lane in front of our house. It was a third of a mile long and scenic enough, but back then, I was walking three miles a day, so that made for a lot of loops! I used to keep a pile of stones along the side of the road and would take one from one pile and drop it in the other to keep track of my laps. That’s also where I learned to look for the little things on the side of the path to keep me interested, such as a small flower or pretty stone or the way the light hit the water in the irrigation ditch. The main drawbacks were the horrible drivers. There were only a few houses along that dirt road, but the residents all drove as if they were on a race track. Eek. So much dust!

But that was then.

Now I walk on a city street, and what traffic there is has to move slowly and carefully because of the deep dips at the crossroads. If I look around as I walk, I’m sure I could find interesting things to see, but mostly I let my mind drift. And today it drifted toward the plants I’d like in my yard. The things that do best are those that plant themselves, and as long as they aren’t tall weeds or other undesirable vegetation, I let them do what they want. Still, I did order a few flowering shrubs to plant this fall.

When we went to Colorado Springs the other day, I kept seeing clumps of lush green with pink daisy-like flowers along the side of the highway, and the closest thing I could find on Colorado wildflower websites were echinacea purpurea magnus. So I ordered a plant. I suppose I could have gone back to that road and dug up some plants, but I’m sure they’d miss their friends. At least this way, I can see if the plant will grow here and either order more for next year or take my chance with seeds.

I’m given up on bulbs — they like me even less than seeds do. Even though I enjoyed seeing the bulbs that did come up, they flowered for such a short time, and then they were gone, so it seemed almost futile. Maybe, though, if I’m lucky, a few will be hardy enough to come up again next year.

The biggest surprise is that because of the rains we’ve been having, grass is growing. It almost looks like a lawn! Apparently this grass — Bermuda, I think — is a good ground cover for me. It doesn’t die if isn’t watered — it simply disappears underground, and any moisture brings it back to life. I am noticing several other types of grass in the yard, so I’m letting them all go to seed just to see what happens. There are some big areas that are bare dirt, such as where the carport and the garage used to be, but the grass is creeping into those areas, too.

Who knows, maybe by walking and thinking of my yard, I’ll dream an awesome garden into existence instead of merely an isolated flower or two.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

Deep Thoughts. Or Not

My last few posts have been more think pieces than my usual diary-like posts as I tried to figure out the truth of what is going on, but today, there isn’t a single thought in my head. Not a deep thought. Not a silly thought. Just . . .

It’s been a pleasant day so far, but I’m not sure it has anything to do with thinking, overthinking, or no thinking. It’s more a matter of having accomplished something.

I’d ordered some summer bulbs a few months ago, thinking my garage would be done by now and I could start landscaping, but nope. Not a single wall has gone up. Even worse, the yard is cluttered with building materials, the things that are supposed to stored in the garage, a metal carport that has already been traded but not yet taken away, and leftovers from the fence and other projects.

Still, the bulbs were just sitting in their packing materials, probably crying out for the sun, so I found a place for them in the yard that won’t be in the way of the workers when/if they ever show up.

I even connected a hose to the front yard water faucet, which is not as easy as it might seem. In fact, last fall when I tried to connect a hose, water spewed all over the place. Enough came through the hose that I was able to water the bulbs I’d just planted. (Some of which recently peeked above the ground, saw who was going to take care of them, and committed hari-kari instead of waiting for my ignorance to do the job for them. Others didn’t even bother checking to see what was going on.) Today, I cleaned the rust from the nozzle with Vaseline, and then the nozzle screwed on.

Such excitement, right?

I hope your day is as pleasant as mine is.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Treasure Hunt

I’ve been going on a treasure hunt every day, looking for signs of spring. A few leaves from the bulbs I planted have started peeking through the soil, which has been fun to see.

Even better, as a special surprise, I found one dwarf iris blooming in a far corner of the yard.

I suppose it’s just as well most of the bulbs haven’t yet broken ground — it’s snowing right now, and I’m not sure how hardy the poor things are. It’s not that cold, though, so they should be okay. (I’m okay too, sitting here at my warm computer, thinking of the flowers to come, and drinking a cup of blueberry tea.)

The most interesting aspect of the bulbs so far are the ones I didn’t plant. Last year, I noticed there were a few flowers by the garage — a crocus, an allium or two, and a couple of daffodils.

We thought it was the watering of that small garden plot that caused the problems with the garage’s foundation, so I tried to move as many bulbs as I could. I dug deep and sifted through the soil several times, and thought I’d gotten them all, but this year, there is an expanse of growing bulbs — several dozen at least. Considering my efforts to dig up the bulbs, the disturbance of the soil when the garage was torn down, and the additional digging when the sidewalk was pried up, there really shouldn’t have been any bulbs left. But there they are — if they survive the snow.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

 

Classes!

I’ve been taking a once-a-week porcelain painting class. It looks like I’m much better at it than I really am because we used a pattern. Basically, all we did was transfer the design and paint it.

Still, we learned some skills particular to porcelain painting, such as mixing the paint (the paints are mostly minerals and come in tiny little vials of colored powder), preparing the brush, and making simple brush strokes.

Unlike any other sort of painting, porcelain painting uses only one side of the brush, and the strokes are always downward. After each application of paint, the project is fired in a kiln then lightly sanded to remove any roughness, and another layer is added.

It was supposed to be a six-week class, but the teacher is willing to continue. The next project might be a Christmas ornament of some kind. Should be fun!

Without a pattern, I am not much of an artist, as you can see from this silly goose I did at a gourd painting class.

Do you see a pattern here? Once there were dance classes, now painting classes! (And birds. I just realized both art projects are birds. The trumpet vine was by design rather than a coincidence.)

Although the porcelain class is instructional, the gourd painting class wasn’t. We chose a gourd and a pattern if we wanted, and did our own thing. Since this gourd was obviously a goose, that’s what I tried to paint.

Since I don’t like having a lot of things sitting around gathering dust, I thought I might spray the goose with polyurethane to make it waterproof and then find a place for it in my as-yet-unplanted garden.

Now that’s a class I would like — a gardening class! I am a try-it-and-see gardener, and mostly, I don’t see anything in my garden, but I am hoping that at least a few of the 200+ bulbs I ordered will flower next spring. I already received some of the bulbs. They were supposed to be sent at optimal planting time, and this is not optimal — it reaches eighty or beyond. The instructions that came with the bulbs say not to plant until the weather is consistently below 60˚ and that won’t happen for at least another month. By then,  the weather will be cool to do all that digging.

Meantime, there is porcelain painting.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Revenge of the Roses

I’ve been having a different sort of adventure lately — gardening. Or I should say, trying to garden. My next-door neighbor let me transplant a few of his lovely purple spikes. He couldn’t remember the name, just that he had some seeds he’d tossed about his yard a few years ago. Such a hardy plant!

I also transplanted some vinca that I found in my yard. They were growing near the driveway, and I didn’t want them buried under a layer of gravel, so I moved them to a safer area.

Both plants are doing well, or as well as can be expected after being operated on by an unskilled practitioner.

The roses, however, are a different story.

A large patch of roses is growing next to my garage. Technically, they are on my neighbor’s property, but he said I could remove them if necessary to paint the garage. I took him at his word, and spent an hour or so attacking those well-entrenched roses.

And they attacked back.

They caught my foot in a tendril lying along the ground, and the next thing I knew, I was lying in a bed of thorns.

Ouch.

Despite the vindictiveness of these roses, they are lovely, so I transplanted them. I’m hoping they will forgive me the clumsiness of the operation and take well to their new location. As far as I know, roses don’t hold a grudge. But we’ll see.

Tomorrow I will weed an area of the yard where a couple of honey locusts planted themselves. It’s a perfect spot for them, so hopefully they will appreciate my efforts.

Meantime, it’s time for a cup of tea, a good book (or any book for that matter) and a rest for my weary bones, sore muscles, and thorn-pricked skin.

Wishing you a flower-full day.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.