this article originally appeared in the Winter 2010 edition of the Outagamie County Master Gardeners Association newsletter
by Gail Clearwater
They say winter is the time of year that gardeners dream — dream of putting in new beds, dream of trying new or unusual plants, dream of what their gardens will (or want them to) look like next year. I have to say, I disagree, winter is not my time for dreaming. Spring on the other hand is my most active state of gardening rem.
This past spring, my husband and I were out in the yard talking to our neighbor. She turned to my husband and said “I can always tell when changes are coming in your yard”. We both looked at her questioning what she was referring to. She went on to say “Really, it’s so simple, Gail comes out in the yard and just stands in one spot. She might work in the yard for a bit but then I’ll see her just standing there. She may turn and look in different directions but her feet rarely move. I just know the wheels in her head are turning and pretty soon we’ll start noticing the changes”. You know, she is so right – this is exactly what I do! I stand in one spot and I think … and I plan … and I dream of what is to come. Thank God she doesn’t see in my house! My husband and kids are always asking me what I’m doing or looking at – I’m usually standing by my patio window looking into the back yard or leaning over the back of the sofa gazing into the front yard when they ask. If only she knew! These are definitely my times for dreaming.
Every morning as I’m getting ready for my day ahead I open my bathroom shade and look out the window. For years my view was the neighbor’s pine trees and the green grass in my own yard. Green is good, but I wanted more. Thus the start of a new dream – a new garden bed with color, texture, and more interest than the grass and pines had to offer. I started out by adding beds right along the house and behind the garage like most people do, but it just wasn’t enough – I dreamed of more – more color, more texture, and more interest as I gazed out the window. More, more, more, or, as my husband says “less, less, less – we have less yard every year” – of course I correct him and say we have the same amount of yard – just less grass!
Eventually, the view outside my bathroom window was taken up by garden. Has this stopped me from dreaming as I look out my bathroom window? Absolutely NOT! You see, I view gardening as more than just plants – the first year that I took up the remainder of the grass I added in a little patio of sorts. The first couple of years I had a teepee with vines growing up. This year, I turned it into a makeshift “office”. A friend of mine had given me an old typewriter that she thought I could use in my garden. I picked up an old typewriter stand, added a couple of chairs, later came a book case, etc. and it quickly became the most talked about spot in my yard. It was even featured in a blog! Gardening is definitely more than just plants!
Recently, I caught one of my visiting sisters standing by my patio door just looking outside into my back yard. When I asked what she was doing she said “just looking – looking to see where the new lamp we bought is going to go in the yard”. As she is a gardener, I know she does this at her house too – stands and just looks out into the yard – and thinks …and plans … and dreams …
Winter is almost upon us and it’s time for the dreaming to start – well that is if you are one of those winter dreamers. Whether you dream in winter or any other time of the year – I hope you dream in color …and texture … and …