Friday, December 30, 2011

A Year in a Northern Garden

For love, for love, we toil.  

Our gardens are a curious mix of labour and art. And let's not forget the dreaming. It all starts with the dreaming. While our gardening styles may differ wildly, as do the conditions under which we toil, we are all creatures consumed by imagination. I like that. That is our art. The labour is our act of creation.

Looking back over the past year, it's interesting to see just how our gardens grew. And grow they did. You probably worked harder than you realized even if you didn't work as hard as you planned. Did your heart break just a little bit now and then? Were you thrilled and surprised on occasion? Good.

Inspired by Laurrie's month by month look back at her tumultuous year in the garden, I decided to reflect on my own garden by the season.

Like much of this continent, at least, it was a strange year for weather. Our spring arrived very late, and when it did it was wet. We really needed the moisture but it pushed back the arrivals so far that spring and summer stumbled over each other in the mud. I suffered a few losses over the winter but nothing calamitous. My double flowering plum (Prunus triloba ‘Multiplex’) had its best year ever. Our tree, Goldrush Amur Cherry (Prunus maackii ‘Jefree’), planted the fall before, came through with flying colours and dazzled us with its copper bark, fluffy white pom-poms and elegant shape. Spring was a time of waiting for us, for we had plans...



The wet spring led to a wet summer and pushed our plans back to July. But the big day finally happened, the planting of the bones of our back garden. After three years of taking out the gravel, scraping away eight inches of clay, bringing in topsoil, removing stumps and grinding out an old gnarly hedge, removing dead trees, building a fence, adding sod and doing the hardscaping we finally (!) got to the fun part, the plants! We put in more trees, shrubs (assorted roses, hydrangeas, spireas, ninebarks, mock oranges and yews, among others) and the key perennials (hostas, rose daphne, daylilies, heucheras, ferns, lamiums, bugbane and more). The garden looks much fuller, but there are miles to go before I sleep. :) I had hoped to put in more perennials nearer the end of summer (and then bulbs!), and maybe even tackle other areas of the property but I ran out of time and steam. *sigh* But that's why we get back to it the next year, right?

When we returned from holidays in late August the sun had found us and the garden was glorious, just in time for autumn...



Our autumn was absolutely gorgeous. AND it lasted. The garden, and the woods, had an opportunity to develop stunning colour. My hydrangeas were the stars in the back as their great dancing blooms turned rosy and carried the day. In the front potted mums and a collection of pumpkins provided the intense colour this season calls for.

The light was a rich, golden honey and the days felt luminous. Halloween came in trailing the last vestiges of gold and red, then November settled in with sombre greys and bark browns. The walking weather remained and I started to incorporate some running into my walking routine. Much to my surprise I've kept it up. The sun began to retreat south, reluctantly sending us slanting rays, as an afterthought, really, and soon our mornings and evenings darkened and Christmas lights went up on the houses. Winter was coming...

December is a very dark month here. Unless I get outside at noon hour, I don't see daylight during the work week. Right now, we get just over seven hours of daylight each day. This contrasts with the summer solstice where we get 17 hours. The mild weather continues and there is only the lightest dusting of snow. I'm enjoying the shapes of my newly full garden. I've filled the front pots with festive greenery and branches. The dry weather has meant lots of clear nights, providing the opportunity to enjoy the first hours of the lunar eclipse. Deer and rabbits are happy. Christmas was the best yet. My young son was over the moon. My favourite gift? The necklace on the right side of the mosaic. The charms are based on old wax seal patterns. I love the one with the tree. My husband knows me well.


And now we close the year. I hope you weathered the storms (or droughts!) and found beauty in your creations. The seed catalogues are arriving and gardeners dreams are stirring. I am thinking perennials and what I want to see happen in other areas of the garden. Scary as it may be, I am even thinking of changing some of the garden we have created in the last three years (Don't tell my husband!). :)

As you dream, I wish you all the best in the New Year for your gardens, and for you. Gardeners are full of hope, that is implicit in the act of planting. And you know, hopeful people create the future. I like that too.

Remember...
"A garden is never so good as it will be next year." ~ Thomas Cooper

Welcome to 2012!

17 comments:

Anna said...

Beautiful collages and reminsences of the past year. As a sometime dabbler in calligraphy I would like to know where you accessed your mosaic making programme from - most taken with the font. May the new year treat you and those that you love kindly and may all that graces your garden flourish xxx

The Garden Ms. S said...

Hi Anna,

Thank you for your kind words! To answer your questions, I just use Picasa (free by Google) as my image editing program. It has a collage function that allows you to create mosaics. The font is "Phonetica" and available for free downloads on the internet. It is my new love too! Thinking of using it in my blog header for the next revamp.

All the best for a wonderful New Year! xo

Providence Acres Farm said...

I loved looking at your garden pictures! Thanks for sharing. You have a beaitufl garden!

Marguerite said...

How patient you have been waiting 3 years to put in plants and working so hard to prepare for them. The final quote is my favourite, gardeners are forever looking forward to the next season aren't they?

Shirley @ The Gardening Life said...

I love what you are doing with your garden and what it is becoming. Even after 11 years in my current garden, I am finding things to change, plants to relocate, and areas I'd love to expand. It is ever changing, ever growing, ever wonderful! Happy New Year to you. I look forward to seeing your garden evolve.

Thanks for visiting!

The Garden Ms. S said...

Providence, thank you, and all the best for a wonderful New Year! :)

Marguerite, We have been patient! Although, I have been sneaking plants in over the years anyway, even realizing that they would probably be moved before the garden was done. Now, I am already wanting to move stuff again. lol

CanadianGardenJoy said...

My goodness girl .. I have to confess I never did do the right prep for my garden .. I just dug in .. yes, I did add soil .. but you would be shocked at the short cuts I took ? LOL
But .. considering this lot had NOTHING but dead grass and 2 dead trees .. it looks a little different for sure ! haha
This is a wonderful way to sum up the past year : ) I might try myself now that that I have been inspired by you girl !
Happy New Year and fingers crossed for a great year .. I love that quoye about how we think .. next year's garden will always be better! ;-)
Joy

Joanne said...

It's around this time of year when I start dreaming of the tomatoes that I'll plant in May ... It seems so far off now, but it's on the horizon!

The Garden Ms. S said...

Shirley, Joy, Joanne,
Thanks for stopping by. It is amazing how much we do accomplish in our gardens and how much we still want to do! :) A very happy New Year to you all!!

Casa Mariposa said...

Such a beautiful post! How did you create your mosaics? I have yet to figure that out and when I tried my software conspired against me. LOVE the charms! Lucky you!! How proud you must feel to look out at your garden, thinking back over everything you've accomplished. Such a good feeling! :o)

Jan@Thanks for today. said...

Wow, your gardens are so impressive and your writing is inspirational! It has been a long time since I've visited your blog, and you have really added SO SO much to your garden...it looks amazing! Thanks for your nice comment on my recent blog post, I really appreciate it! Happy 2012 to you and yours!

The Garden Ms. S said...

Jan, I loved seeing your garden again! :)So glad you popped by here. Lots has been happening but it seems to be moving so slow that I forget how far its come. Thanks for the reminder. :)

A few of you have asked about the mosiac. I use Picasa to create them. It is a free image editing and photo organizing program from Google. You can just google it and download it from the internet. I use the "create collage" function to create the mosiacs. It is a little fussy in getting the pictures you want into it but once you get the hang of it it works and gives you lots of options for re-arranging your photos.

Best to all!

sweetbay said...

Such lovely dreamy mosaics! I'm glad you got such a glorious autumn, as I remember how late your spring and wet your summer was.

Happy New Year to you and your family!

The Garden Ms. S said...

Sweetbay, so kind of you to remember! :) All the best to you and your family for a wonderful New Year!

Victoria said...

Yay!! Gorgeous..absolutely beautiful collages...spectacular my friend!!
Shine on!
Victoria

Rebecca @ In The Garden said...

Beautiful collages! What a great idea for a post! I hope you can stay warm during these frigid days. :)

The Garden Ms. S said...

Victoria, Thank you! Am enjoying your gorgeous posts. You make winter beautiful. :)

Rebecca, I hope you are hanging in there this winter. :) We just finally got some warmer weather today and I am thrilled. Let's hope the rest of the winter speeds by at a nice, temperate level. Can't wait for spring!