Planting Hope

Today is the first really cool day we’ve had for months, cool enough to make me realize that fall really is coming. When the outside temperature is in the nineties (Fahrenheit), it’s hard to believe that summer is coming to an end, so it seems rather silly to be preparing the ground for fall planting. We’ll be getting back into the nineties, at least for a few days now and again, but I am beginning to feel a bit of urgency.

The season really is changing. And if fall is coming (five more days!), that means winter is only three months away.

It will be strange, after all this time of working outside, to have a hiatus in the winter, but it will be good to give my poor old knees a rest. I’m just hoping they will hold up for all the planting I’m going to be doing this fall — a few magnus echinacea (a purplish pink coneflower), a bunch of lily trees (despite the name, they are not trees, just very tall lilies), a couple of hundred tulip bulbs, and a pound of wildflowers. I also need to transplant the New England asters because the clump is getting rather dense.

If I can’t get the wildflower area completely dug up and the old Bermuda grass roots removed, I’ll just hoe what’s left and hope for the best, but there’s no way to cut corners on the rest of the planting.

So much work! In the long run, I hope it will be worth it — I would certainly enjoy a beautiful yard. Mostly, though, it’s the doing, not necessarily the done, that intrigues me. And the not giving up.

Previously, whenever I started a garden of some sort and the plants didn’t do well, I shrugged it off as my not having a green thumb. (Which I don’t have, but I’m hoping that experience and research and luck will offset my lack of native ability.)

The last time I planted anything, the failure truly wasn’t my fault. The grasshoppers were voracious that year and they ate everything down to the ground — including a six-foot tree. Because of that, I now panic whenever I see one of those hideous brown hoppers, but so far, they are keeping their destruction to a minimum. If they get too bad, I might borrow the neighbor’s chickens and let them feast, though some of the hoppers seem almost as big as those chickens, so I’m not sure he’d want to take the risk.

Looking at what I’ve written today, I can see that I’ve used a whole lot of words to say what I came here to say: that the cooler temperature is a harbinger of the fall that will show up next week.

I’m not really sad to see gardening season end, nor am I glad. It’s all part of the cycle of life. And after the fall preparation and the winter hiatus, spring will come and all the hope I’ve been planting might come to fruition.

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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

Planting Hope

I received ten flowering trees yesterday that the Arbor Day Foundation gifted me when I sent a donation. (It wasn’t really a donation, because I only sent the money to get the trees.) If you have ever responded to such an offer, you will understand the irony of the term “tree.” These seedlings might someday be trees, might even be the beginning of a small forest in my yard, but for now, they are nothing but skinny little twigs between six and twelve inches long with barely a growth that could be considered a root.

I’ve planted seedlings from the foundation before, and not one ever grew to babyhood, let alone achieved grown-up-tree status, but even knowing that, I sent the money. I figure I wasn’t out anything except my donation, and maybe not even that if the foundation really does plant trees with at least some of the money they receive.

Of course, these “trees” came when there is no way I would take a chance on injuring my knee further by digging holes, so I considered not planting them, but a teenager a few houses away agreed to do the work for me. That was a double blessing, not just because having someone else plant them saved my knee, but also perhaps because the trees will not immediately realize who their caregiver will be. And maybe, just maybe, when that realization dawns, one or two of them will decide they like it here anyway.

Even if none of the seedings live very long, it’s the thought that counts. Planting trees is like planting hope — hope for a future, and a more beautiful future at that.

And all of us right now can use a bit of hope.

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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.