Bzzzz September 25th, 2009

It is a season of changes.  Not only is the weather cooling, life is changing here.

Benjamin, my only child (my baby!), has gone off to college at The Citadel.  He is the third generation on his dad’s side to attend college there. When he graduates, he will wear “The Ring” with his dad, uncles, great uncles and cousins. He knew what to expect going there. He is well-prepared for the challenge. And he seems to thrive on the manly camaraderie of the place.

That still didn’t stop me from crying for pretty much the first week while he was gone. The tears were drawn from a combination of missing him, worrying about him and being disoriented by the new direction of my life as an empty-nester.

sweet autumn clematis 1

Sweet autumn clematis blooms over the garden gate in September

I have stopped crying now, but am still trying to navigate a life with a 50% reduction in the number of men I need to take care of on a daily basis.

In other changes, Harry has left private practice and gone back to work for the government. The book I was co-writing this summer, Grocery Gardening, is finally off my desk. The six new baby chicks will be laying in about another month–leaving us with 10 – 12 eggs a day to dispose of. And I have major new work and writing assignments to keep me busy.

Oh, the garden?

garlic chives and pineapple sage 1

Garlic chives and pineapple sage duke it out in the herb bed

I can’t say this has been my most productive or meticulous garden year. There were so many distractions and challenges that kept me out of the garden. Still, Mother Nature was forgiving for just this year. The work from past years has paid off, as perennials continued to bloom, flowers to re-seed and the overall bones of the raised beds, fences and arbor to hold it all together. I don’t think I can continue this type of neglect next year and still hold my head up as a gardener though.

fall-garden

The hakuro nashiki willow standard needs a haircut--but then it ALWAYS seems to need a haircut. The tuteur is covered with malabar spinach and scarlet runner beans.

Now, as weather cools and all these darned changes slow down just long enough for me to catch my breath, I am enjoying being out in the garden, putting in fall vegetables and tidying up for the winter to come.

fall-lettuces

I just broadcast a mix of lettuce seeds for this pretty little bed. What a treat to pick our salads each night.

I’m actually looking forward to winter now. I have a fancy new cold frame to put together this weekend. I’m setting up the light garden in the basement to grow microgreens. Cooking projects, sewing projects, writing projects and, of course, visits to The Citadel and Ben’s visits home are going to keep me busy.

amaranthe-and-henryi-clematis

That's amaranthe leaning against the tuteur where the henryi clematis grows.

Overall, I’m still living the good life. It’s a life of transitions, but it’s a good life.

(You can click on an image for a larger version of the photo.)

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Bzzzz January 25th, 2009

A couple of years ago I managed to get organized enough to photograph my potager through several months. The changes from month to month documented in the photos were a bit like watching some low-tech, time-lapse photography. I enjoy looking at the changes as long as I try not to think about the fact that I’ve gotten older between each shot.

Here’s another low-tech time lapse. It seems that time is passing even faster than month to month. We’re skipping from season to season now.

This was part of our backyard in May. I know it’s May even without looking at the photo file information because the Lady Banks rose is in full bloom.

This monster rose only blooms in May, when it is covered with tiny yellow roses. The rest of the year it spends plotting world domination. The only reason it hasn’t grown over into your back yard is that I hack at it regularly with great big pruners.

The two trees are Zelkovas, a close relative of the American elm. Zelkovas are fast growers and have proven to be resistant to Dutch elm disease. They were the first things that I planted when we built the house eight years ago.

Although they were as spindly as any newly-planted tree when they first were plunked into the ground, they grew quickly. Now, they provide shade in the heat of the day, so that even in the summer months it is tolerable to sit outside in the Adirondack chairs.

The Zelkovas also provide beautiful color in the fall. They put on quite a brilliant show and are among the last of the trees to lose their leaves.

Oops, there go another few months.

Now here it is winter and this is the backyard in January. It was about four degrees outside the other morning when I went to let the chickens out and snapped this photo.

This weekend I’m huddled inside, looking at seed catalogs and thinking about another year in the garden. I’ll have another year of gardening experience under my belt, more entries into my garden journal and a few good stories to tell from 2008.

I’ll try not to fret about the birthday coming up that ends in the number nine or the fact that my son, Ben, won’t see the end of the summer garden because he’ll be off to college by then.

The passing of time is inevitable. But I will try to remember it can be beautiful and rewarding too.

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