Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Gardening Season: Unlimited!
Many people talk about the length of the growing season in their garden. But what I find interesting is the length of the gardening season. I have gardened in the same town for over 37 years and the gardening season has gotten longer and longer until now it pretty much runs all year. And I am not talking at all about global warming here, this is more a case of a gardener's evolution. My first gardens were summer gardens and when winter came, with cold and fog and dreariness, I was inside feeling trapped. I would have liked to have been outside but it seemed too unpleasant. And with young children who didn't want to be out there I suppose my opportunities for winter gardening were limited.
In those long ago days of early garden ownership I would go to my parents' house in Southern California for Christmas and get all enthused about the jade plants, Crassula ovata, blooming all over their garden, the sunny skies, and the warm temperatures. I would make plans for some time in the garden as soon as we got home but as we drove north and traveled over the Tehachapis we would descend into what you see here...fog and gloom.For some reason that stopped me from following through on the gardening plans.
Over the years, however, I have found that more days are 'good gardening' days. Unless it is pouring rain (I wish! we are so behind on rain for this year) or we are experiencing one of our really windy days, if I have the time, I can find something I need to do out there. And on those rainy or windy days? Projects can be done in the garage...things like making Fairy House parts or repotting plants.
The experienced gardener can always find things to do in the garden despite the weather or the lack of an actual possibility of growing anything. And the more experienced (read 'older') a gardener gets, the more there is to do in what some consider the off-season. Partly, that is due to the fact that the older gardener might not work quite as quickly or for as long a period as she once did. So waiting to do a major cleanup all at once is dangerous, flirting with anything from sore muscles to more serious overuse injuries. Experience has also taught her that waiting to do the last leaf cleanup until the weather warms up is one way to produce a bumper crop of snails: those clumps of leaves under the pelargoniums provide lovely little cozy gathering spots for snail families. The older, experienced gardener is also usually an addict so gardening of any sort is a fix, and often a needed metal health break.
Once cleanup or projects of some sort are begun, the garden reveals its magic, even on a misty, cold day. The silence of a foggy day makes the gardening experience very different. Spring will be here soon enough; if we are lucky there will be many rainy days between now and then. For now though, sun, fog, and rain don't matter. If I have some free time I am heading to the garden.