Yesterday parts of the world were treated to a total eclipse of the sun - a site to experience for sure. I believe it was around 1994,when I was living in Michigan when I witnessed this incredibly humbling experience. A true reminder to us all that we are not the ones in control of our planet and space, there are much greater forces at work here. We may have a better understanding of what's occurring but in no means are we the ones in the driver's seat.
Since coming home from a much needed vacation the snows which had been piling up even 24 hours before our departure had melted quite a bit in a weeks time. The snows around the patio were continuing to recede slowly but surely which each passing day this last week. I was even able to open the door to the Maine Kitchen Garden and walk in and look at the progress of what's going on in the beds. A few greens could be see underneath the garden cloches. The straw mulch remains down protecting the soil , although the stems from onions and garlic also could be seen poking through. Yesterdays signs of spring today are again wrapped in winter's thick blanket of freshly falling snow.Springtime is a time for new beginnings, a fresh slate to start a new. In the garden, despite the looks of the lunar scape which continues above ground; beneath the surface - life continues to happen. The ground is alive with microbial activity - the recent thaws have begun below the surface and once winter wraps up its finale - life will spring forth.
As I mentioned we recently were away in the lush tropical paradise of Barbados. It's sunny and warm and gorgeous every day. If it rains, it does so overnight or early in the morning. Beautiful and sunny all the time...hmmm.... it makes me wonder if one could truly appreciate the beauty of those conditions day in and day out, particularly if that's all you ever experienced. The contrasts of colors these last few weeks for us going from brown, black, white and evergreen to an explosion of greens, blues, yellows, reds - the sea alone was at least 5 different shades of turquoise! However, even paradise has it's gardening challenges. The place we stayed had this great area for a garden but it wasn't being used! We couldn't understand how that could be that is until we met the monkeys! Monkeys are to Barbados as deer, raccoon and squirrels are to Connecticut.
It's been snowing for two hours this morning - not a single forecast called for snow at all today. Funny how all the weather apps and services finally changed the forecast to reflect what's actually going on now. I find it best to take this time and take refuge in my garden and those of our clients, albeit on paper but with planning each vegetable, herb and flower a landscape of colors appears in my head.
I always take photos along the way each year of each garden. The early pictures of promise are generally stark since capturing a planted seed is fairly boring. It's a lot to ask the viewer to look beyond the soil and imagine the seed nestled into the earth waiting for the right combination of events to occur in order for the miracle of life to happen. Unless you are a gardener, then of course, you get it, you see the potential.
Knowing what has been planted in the past and where allows us to successfully plan for the future. Succession planting is the practice of rotating plants from season to season. For instance, one year you would plant members of the solanaceae family (tomatoes, peppers...) in one part of the garden or in a particular garden bed and then the next year you would move it to another part of the garden or different garden bed. Plotting the garden out, we use an intensive planting method setting up a polyculture, similar to square foot gardening but without the grid and a bit more free form.
Submersing myself into the symphony of delicious color, I paint the gardens with the green peas that emerge from purple and white flowers. Smatterings of Red Sail lettuce mixed with purple petunias lay beneath a canopy of emeralds touched with Sun Gold Cherry, Cherokee Purple and Lemon Boy tomatoes. Monet's garden couldn't be more beautiful or colorful. Since everything doesn't all come up at once - the garden colors in spring differ than what emerges in the middle of summer which eventually gives way to an entirely new palette in fall.
The changes in the seasons is like watching Mother Nature flipping channels and I'm not sure I'd like to be stuck on any one given channel. Would you?