Plants: My Trump Winter Balm

Gaillardia & Gerbera
on the Windowsill

Two weeks ago in the Northeast, in the midst of the Russian /Flynn /election connection and the endless Trump twitter maelstrom, spring temperatures warmed the ground. Clumps of daffodils began their stretch to maturity. Lily leaves peeped out. Buds appeared on shrubs. I embraced the warm air.

Spring in February, a seductive distraction, seemed too soon. Within days, a  snowstorm blanketed every bud and plant with soft snow, a coating that is protective. After the spring thaw, some leaves will look fragile and need to be cut. Thankfully, the blossoms will emerge intact and open.

The seduction of spring stuck. Just as the plants began to stretch upward in the warming earth, I culled my garden catalogs and began to fantasize about rich colors and new plantings for my garden.

There is nothing more appealing to a winter-shut-in-gardener then the  sight of red, yellow, peach and pink primrose plants at the entry to the super market. My first choice was a red plant, my second choice, yellow. Primroses are easy plants. They like “wet feet,” meaning that every few days they require watering from the base up. It’s easy. I simply pop the plant into a bowl of water and let the plant infuse what it needs. I then place it in the sink to drain out the excess moisture.

The next week, I was tempted but hesitant to buy a bright orange gerbera. My prior efforts at growing gerbera in summer have resulted in wilt. But this was a winter experiment. I had the intuition to water my orange beauty the same way I watered the primrose. Gratefully, the plant has thrived and produced multiple blooms.  My hope is to set it in the garden along with the yellow and red gaillardia with its effervescent blossoms.

My gaillardia and gerbera plants on the sunny windowsill draw me into a practice of mindfulness. Every day I check each leaf, each bud for wilt, aphids, any sign of distress. When a blossom fades, I cut it off to engender more nourishment to new buds. A drooping blossom signals the need for water. Rotation helps the plant stay tall, otherwise it bends too far  into the sun. It’s about reading the signs.

As a child, I enjoyed  the freedom to indulge in flights of imagination and play in the backyard. Often, my dad joined me as he trimmed shrubs or cut the lawn. During World War II, I watched as he chose a half moon shaped tool to cut the edges of a bed and turn the soil for planting tomatoes, green beans and peppers. Every summer day, he tended his garden. It was part of the war effort. My father was a careful man; he understood the signs. At the right moment, he invited me to pick a lush tomato to bring to the table for supper.

I am thankful for the lessons of my father: gardens and plants engender beauty, food and connection to the earth; nature is nurture. Especially during this extended Trump winter, I am thankful.


8 thoughts on “Plants: My Trump Winter Balm

  1. Maureen Kelly

    I needed that!
    Faye, it’s good to “hear” your clear & consistent voice once again in these troubling times.


  2. Hy Kempler

    I am glad you find life, future and beauty among your flowers. Nice to plan on rebirth in the midst of undoing and uncertainty and to remember a source for your love.
    My mother’s often stated philosophy helps me accept what is beyond my control and is calming.
    “a zoi geht is, Chaimil” (That’s the way it goes, Hy) . Those were endearing words.

    1. fayewriter Post author

      Hy, I so enjoyed your touching story about your Mom and her endearing and wise words to you… I can only imagine the lilt in her voice. Thank you!

  3. Rosemary Booth

    I like how the blog is a kind of confession–of “a shut-in-winter gardener”–that is stated outright, no apology but only enthusiasm for the indulgences she describes. Some words in this piece to me suggest counter-weights to the tough political scene; so, for instance, it’s winter “balm” rather than “bomb”[shells] or tweets. The closing picture of a watchful, careful father-gardener feels just right, an altogether sturdy counter-image to the President himself.

    1. fayewriter Post author

      Rosemary, you certainly know how to dig in and cull the seeds of my effort (and intent)!

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