Monday, October 7, 2013

Fall is for Digging

Fall is for digging. It’s for nudging your imagined gardens toward actuality.

Spring may start languorously enough, but it soon quickens its pace and leaves you with half-completed projects as you race to keep up—with planting, and weeding, and pruning, and mowing … and wishing and hoping.

But in fall, everything is dying anyway. It’s easy to put off boring end-of-season tasks, and re-imagine your space. And so you dig. You create a garden, knowing that you don’t have to fill it for at least six months. Such luxury. Such promise!

If you have read my Rules of Gardening, then you know that I believe in shortcuts. I believe in letting nature work for me. I believe in leaving space for things that I don’t know—yet—that I will want. I believe in simple tools, and in preserving my joints. 

I love my Radius Pro Transplanter.

And so, on Sunday, I picked up my Radius Pro Transplanter, and I turned over the sod—which was actually 1/3 clover, 1/3 mock Indian strawberry, and 1/3 grass. And I piled the upended tangle high with mulch, and with straw that had been resting and rotting all summer in preparation for just such a moment as this. On one end of my new garden space I planted a small dogwood tree that a friend had given me two years ago, when it was a mere Audubon whip, and I braced it with a bamboo tripod, which had served as summer support for a crop of rattlesnake pole beans. Later, or sooner, I will wrap it with deer netting.

After using my aged straw, I went out and purchased 3 more bales ... for next year.

My new dogwood will make flowers in the spring and shade in the afternoon. Yes, it will take time, but better to plant young things that you can shape and watch over, than “install” large expensive trees with their roots in a knot. I think of a friend—she may be 85, or she may be 90, or 91 even—who, when asked what type of tree she would like to receive as a tribute to her years of patronage, pronounced (with the aplomb only a self-confident woman in her ninth decade can muster), “I would like a white oak, a small one. I like to watch trees grow.” So we planted the small white oak, on her instructions, in the middle of an open field, where, in her aging mind, it took on the majestic proportions of lone oaks you sometimes see standing out in the middle of fields of grass. “Lone oak” is a dignified name bestowed on farms and campsites, cities and wineries, and even senior housing facilities. The stalwart, elegant image is universal, and it pleases us all.

Landscape gerber daisies

I see my dogwood spreading its roots and its graceful form toward my patio. As for the straw-mulched arm that stretches from the patio to my young champion, I have no immediate plans. Probably I will find some alluring annual flower that I will need to try. I generally do. Last year it was my beautiful landscape gerber daisy; this year, my most gratifyingly dwarf leonotis. And even while the mystery belle of 2014 is proving her merit, I will be tossing more permanent prospects around, trying them out for size in my imagination. 

Dwarf leonotis, a spectacular garden success story.

I have all winter to luxuriate in the possibilities. Nothing, not even an apple pie in October, is more delicious than a rich bed of empty soil in April.  

1 comment:

  1. Can't believe you got this to not only grow but thrive!!! I WILL be begging for a cutting : )
    So great to meet you at your brother's open house recently AND glad to subscribe!
    bdhowell45 _at -