The Stopwatch Gardener

A gardening blog from Sheila M. Averbuch

It’s beginning to look a lot like gardening


It was pretty awful to end Click for larger imagethe gardening year with a blizzard on 26 November. Last year it snowed for a month starting just before Christmas Eve, and I thought that was bad. We’ve now had 2 feet of snow in two weeks, with a low of -14 Celsius.

When I was little I loved snow so much I prayed for it, but I have a hard time liking it now. That’s despite having seen how well it protects my plants. I didn’t lose much in the garden this summer, and yesterday I was able to dig out helleborus foetidus from melting snow. It looked like it had just lain its head down for a rest, and it stood up again.

This proof of life was interesting, but it didn’t change the numbness I’ve felt toward the garden since the blizzard. It’s the kind of ennui that defines ennui: defeated, empty, apathetic. Usually on a tea break or before falling asleep I wrap myself in thoughts about the garden: plans for new roses, spring planting combinations, schemes to get height into the border. But these last two weeks, the thoughts won’t come. It’s as if the garden had been compulsorily purchased and a high fence erected between me and it.

But today I did Click for larger imagefive minutes of what could pass for gardening. All I did was push pea sticks into a bowl of hyacinths I’ve been forcing. I got the most fleeting taste of that mad joy – nurturing a plant that needs something, studying its miraculous form, anticipating bloom-time.

Okay, it was barely gardening, but it was enough to dig me out of the snow and help me stand up again.

I’ve written a sonnet about the snow. Want to hear it?

Snow angel

The flakes are smudges on the whiter sky,
its blankness scribbled over left to right
by airy, aimless polka dots of snow;
Its business is silent smothering
of branches, berries, buds that don’t protest,
although I do; the plants have left their things
along the border by the garden wall
and snow is gaily claiming everything,
dizzy and oblivious, like one who
forgets the morning by the afternoon;
The garden’s gone, why do I seek it here?
perhaps the snow knows what it has to do:
protect what has withdrawn into the earth
and mark the place to watch for white rebirth.

posted under Bulbs, Gardening, Roses
3 Comments to

“It’s beginning to look a lot like gardening”

  1. On December 17th, 2010 at 1:37 am frazzledsugarplummum Says:

    Well done!
    It is a lovely cool damp day in Launceston, Tasmania. A change from the usual hot heat of Summer.

  2. On February 21st, 2013 at 12:02 pm Kay Lay Says:

    How lovely to see that other people like gardening. I work in a wasteland of celebrity lovers who only talk of soaps and celebs! It is lovely to walk around the very small garden I have in my rented flat. The only problem is that it has been neglected for years and now has serious ground elder problem and I mean it is everywhere – borders and grass so ‘Im flumoxed now as I see there are bulbs coming up surrounded by ground elder I tried weed killer but it just laughs at it. I may just have to pretend it’s not there. However, my favourite plants are roses and I have several from David Austin. The best rose I ever owned was Isaphan..truely fabulous I recommend it to anyone who has a space for it. Thank you for lovely website. Kay

  3. On February 22nd, 2013 at 10:50 am The StopWatch Gardener Says:

    Thank you so much for your comments, Kay – you’re not going to like this at all, but digging out the ground elder is really the only way. Weedkiller won’t do enough!

    I tried to get Isphahan from DA once but I think it was out of stock; such a beauty!

    Good luck with your garden – so wonderful to encounter another rose addict

    Best regards


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