Gardening in Winter
As of late, I have been remiss in my blog postings. Distracted, swept along by the sheer flood of news surrounding Trump, his family and associates, I struggle to clear the space to write about the importance of maintaining gratitude.
It’s not that I don’t think about it. I do. After 119 posts, I wonder what is new that I can offer on this subject. Subjects have varied; but the essence, that of mindful attention, is consistent. Sameness, order, a sense of reliability has its benefits.
It turns out I garden all year long— if not in reality, in fantasy. This time of year, when any day can be cloudy and damp, snowy or sunny I attend to my indoor garden of houseplants. For added fun, I pour over plant pictures in a gardening catalogue and plan my spring garden.
This year, I decided to experiment and bring a shaggy but still blooming petunia pot in for the winter. Five months later, to my surprise, as you can see from the picture above, the plant has filled out and continues to bloom. I check it every day. Every few weeks, I place the plant in my kitchen sink, spray it with water, and fertilize. Indoor plants, especially those that bloom, are subject to white fly. Once a month, I spray it with Neem, to hold off the bugs.
Today, I was rewarded with a full array of bright purple petunia blooms and two yellow brachcolla blooms. The process, mindful attention to the health of my plants, makes me smile. I poke my finger into the soil and test for moisture. I scan the leaves for changes or invaders. Green growth is soothing and calming. The surprise mauve African violet bud lifting its head is delightful. The connection to nature is obvious but the close at hand encounter is what is most meaningful to me.
The contrast of watching an African violet bud unfold in contrast to the chaos of our political structure feels profound. In my own home, I am able to create beauty and order as I attend to the needs of each plant.
But not everyone is a gardener or inclined to caring for houseplants. The challenge in maintaining a sense of gratitude is to notice. I believe that everyday, there are opportunities to feel uplifted by the experience of kindness and of beauty, as well as an appreciation of one’s own effort and/or the effort of others.
For myself, my roots to gardening go back to my Dad who dug the soil and planted tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, radishes and peppers during WW II in our fenced back yard. He was a creature of habit, very disciplined and taught me well about the importance of noticing and attending. As soon as I had a little tiny plot of earth in my first condo, I planted petunias next to the steps. I recall the joy of making a difference in the aesthetic quality of entering my space. I felt a surge of gratitude then and after, again and again, as I maintain an effort at generativity such as with the seeds I scatter in this post.
Beauriful flowers! A harbinger of spring?
Hi Gerry, Yes, at least in my fantasy!
I wish I had grown up with that in my life. We all have different things. I love the colors and textures but not the discipline! Thanks for sharing.
Hetty, I would think that your careful attention to detail as you sit at your loom and weave would bring you into a mindful state. I know I always experience delight & gratitude when I touch and take in the color and texture of your scarves!
I am grateful for your words today, as I sit on my terrace in Oaxaca and read your present blog. I am grateful for my health, and for my attention to beauty and creativity. I have been keeping a daily journal of observations, sketches and small paintings of my two months travels in Mexico.
Your petunia story is uplifting. Much for you to be grateful for. I am grateful for coming to Oaxaca and experiencing the beauty of its people and culture.
Of course, you made it happen. You nursed your petunia plant back to health.
Hopefully we can make a difference in our political scene, so that we can continue to move forward in our betterment for all. After reading your blog this morning, I feel grateful for the possibility of positive political change, and for contributing one small piece to having this kind of change take place.
It’s uplifting for me to embrace the beauty of nature, and its continual magic and mystery, as a model for any future changes that we envision.
So good to hear from you, Bev. I imagine your daily practice of observations, sketches and small paintings and enjoy the sense of your ritual. I often wish I had the talent to draw what I see with lines rather than words. Yes, I hope we can make a difference on our political scene, especially regarding the environment and how difficult nature can be when we muck it up. I hope you continue to enjoy.
Faye, Although I seem to be death to houseplants, your blog on indoor gardening gave me great pleasure.
Kathy, Hello! Your post made me laugh. I’m glad you enjoyed my post and hope one day, a plant will bring you the gift of joy.
Interesting, you grow petunias indoors. I love their scent, a rarity for store bought indoor plants. Though I miss scent in the winter, I miss color most of all, so in the fall, I bring in my geraniums, and they bloom and bloom through Christmas, then they go into a few months of dormancy, only to re-blossom again in March, There is something uplifting about seeing something bloom when and where it’s not supposed to, a flamboyant defiance to the natural order of things.
Margaret, I love how you frame the uniqueness of having a “flamboyant defiance”inside in the midst of winter. That contrast is what I attempted to show in my picture of the petunias in bloom with the backdrop of my snow-covered front garden!
I like the paradox implied in this piece. It begins with an impulse, as the writer tells of hauling her “shaggy” petunia plant indoors for the winter and exults in the “close-at-hand” encounters such a shift allows. She ends with an early memory of planting petunias outdoors–but right “next to the steps” and so similarly close, ready (like the houseplant) to be noticed and tended to.
Rosemary, exactly! The close-at-hand, getting up close, readily noticed, is key to slowing down and being mindful.