garden inspiration

It’s starting to thaw out a bit here, and the days are stretching a few minutes longer each day. I’m ready to be back at the garden on Wednesday mornings – we draw the line at temperatures in the thirties or below. I don’t mind a brisk walk, but it’s also been nice to linger in coffee shops with F for an hour or more in lieu of our garden strolls. Much warmer too!

But I’ve got gardens on the brain, specifically our own. Our yard has been really neglected for ages – it’s just not something I’ve wanted to invest too much in once we knew that we wanted to add onto the house. And things are looking hopeful for that this year (please, fingers crossed, everyone together now), and so I’ve been collecting my thoughts on it while the weather is still cold and gray.

Our new front gate was delayed in production, but I received word on Monday that it’s done, and installation of the gate and missing panel should be happening next week! Other than the long lead time, so far we’ve been really pleased with Classic Metal Craft. I had one of the owners come out last week to measure the sides of our front yard so that he could work up a quote for replacing the sorry looking chain link fences there. Our plan this summer is to remove the front boxwoods, erect scaffolding for repairs and repainting, install new windows, and then we’ll have a blank slate in the front yard.

Before we implement a landscape plan there, I want to install those side fences, so it’s nice to have a quote in hand.

And then we’ll have our rear yard as a blank slate too, once the construction is done. I want continuity between the two spaces, and I want to also green as many spaces (even vertical ones) on the house as possible. Because our yard is small I’d like to keep it simple. Greens and whites and silvers against a backdrop of charcoal and existing brick. Some purples as well. Pea gravel and salvaged brick in areas for walking or sitting.

The roof gardens will be a good opportunity for some vegetable growing, and a cutting garden as well. I see those being a little more colorful, and will likely take awhile before we get them laid out and planted. They are listed as “future” on the house plans, and we just might be broke and exhausted before we get there.

Having a “new” courtyard garden with a nice fence on two sides and a glassy dining room on one end and carriage house on the other is beyond exciting to me. It feels like we’ve been dreaming about this for ages. My patience is waning. I wish it was here, done, ready for weekends of playing in the dirt.

For now there are pictures, lush and green for a gray January day. A few more months – I can do this. I think.

questions answered, part seven (seasonal transitions)

I said I was going to spend January getting my act together before settling back in here, but I miss writing. So I thought I’d revisit a few more of the questions you asked last year that I never got around to. I’m telling myself to keep my answers brief – a couple of paragraphs – something I can knock out in just a few minutes. We’ll see how that goes.

Since I was just talking about transitions, I thought I’d address Sue’s question about seasonal transitions, although I’m not sure about the specifics here. I know that they can be tricky to navigate for a lot of people – particularly in the fall and in the spring. One of the things I like best about where we live is that we have four distinct seasons here. There are things that I love about each one of them, and I try to focus on those things as we launch into each new one. And there are things that get old each season, and although I try to just enjoy where I am in the moment, I still can slide into complaint mode. In my defense, how much swing can the human body really tolerate? We’ve experienced a 114 degree difference in recorded temperatures in the last six months (July-January), and nearly 140 degrees difference between wind chill and heat index for the same time period. So maybe a little griping is justified.

More than anything, I love the anticipation of the coming season. Each one allows me the opportunity to relinquish something for awhile, and embrace something new. It’s hard for me to let go of running in the winter, but the darkness forces me to do it – even more than the cold does. Every year I give a feeble attempt to move the running indoors, but it never sticks. Instead, I focus on other forms of physical activity – and this winter I’ve really pushed myself in strength training. I know that the gym will hold less appeal once the days grow longer and the temperatures start to rise. Those late winter / early spring runs are just glorious – even more so after a brief hibernation.

I miss the academic year in my adult-always-working mode. But I get a taste of it with the girls. I love summertime, and all the things that we pack into it, despite working full time during it. I love those hot and sticky nights at the Muny and the abundance of the farmer’s market. And just when blasting the air conditioning starts to get old, the days reach perfect running weather status again and I can fly. If I could freeze anytime, I’d stretch out fall a little longer. I think it can be a difficult time – it definitely feels like grief season for us, and I find that there are a lot of triggers for that in the season itself. I also have to actively work against feeling anxious in the fall. Part of it is just feeling like the season is so fleeting – sometimes it feels like the busyness of upcoming holiday season creeps in earlier and earlier. And I miss the sunlight, and each day that feeling increases a little more. But I think it’s good for me to practice at letting it go. Maybe that’s what fall does for me each year, forces me to turn off a few things, one by one. Let a few things slide, stop chasing (or fleeing) things, and settle into them a bit, in the dark. Because the sun will surprise me again in January, and the temperatures will surpass expectations at some point during February, and March will bring new bulbs and earth smells and magic and I can’t can wait.


I read somewhere recently (I can’t recall where) that it can be a good thing not to jump right into New Year’s resolutions in January, but to instead wait for February to begin. January is a weird transition time between the holidays (full of disrupted schedules), and the more mundane and monotonous days of late winter. There were lots of good points to this theory that resonated with me. I typically feel behind the game when January 1st rolls around because we’re always out of town and then trying to come home and settle in and push the reset button in the tiny little cracks and spaces around the work and school schedules that immediately start back up again. We’re almost halfway through January and I feel that we’ve accomplished half a year’s worth of tasks, but there’s an urgency there that I can’t quite justify or articulate. I don’t want the momentum to stop, so I’m having a hard time pushing the pause button. I don’t want to write about what I’m doing because then I’m not actually doing it. I just want January all to myself – to regain my footing and figure out where I’m headed this year.

So I’m taking that space for myself, but I can’t control everything in my path. M is sick with the flu, which will likely impact the schedule of his upcoming appendix removal that was slated for this Friday. I have a dozen things I’m involved with that need attention, but I can’t seem to catch up on the emails and the correspondence and the scheduling. We have our own deadlines with the house project that seemed doable until they didn’t. It’s Sunday afternoon and I’m tired and frustrated and impatient. I’ve pushed worry over M’s surgery to the back of my mind, but now that it’s here – and maybe on hold again – I’m realizing that the stress is hanging out there, even unacknowledged and ignored. I want the broken parts fixed, I want him healthy and home and healed. I want it over.

Transitions aren’t easy. And sometimes figuring out when I’m in the throes of one is the toughest part of all.