by Nancy Oakes
Just a few weeks ago I was hard pressed to imagine the ground frozen and the trees bare. And a few weeks before that I was just plain tired of the garden-the heat, the drought, the sad plants. Just didn't want to look at it anymore, so I spent my time inside doing paperwork and computer work, a black hole if there ever was one. Then it finally rained and the garden was a happier place to be. It also became a place of solace and certainty as our world suddenly changed.
The beds on either side of the pergola definitely needed some attention-many of the plants had suffered badly during the summer and there were so many weeds in one area I wondered if I'd find any actual garden plants. I sank the garden fork into one corner and began tossing the weeds. I've learned to keep my eyes focused on only a spade sized area, otherwise the vast expanse of weeds may send me screaming to the house. For the most part it's weeds and I'm getting closer to where the drought stricken leaves of the Filipendula are sticking out at odd angles. For the past month I've more or less assumed that the whole stand is dead. And now I'm close enough to know for sure. I begin loosening the soil and hauling out the couch grass that has invaded it, then with the clippers I start removing the dead stalks. Convinced that the next step will be to actually rip it out by its roots and thus end the misery for both of us, I am amazed to see a tiny green leaf emerging from the base of one of the dead stalks. As I get further into the stand I can see more little green leaves, reminding me of Nature's resilience and I can see the promise of the 6' tall pink foamy flowers once again gracing the garden.
Further along, it's another story for the Sidalcea and white variety of the Purple Coneflower. The latter, I've never really liked, so it's tossed with ease. But I love the little Hollyhock-like Sidalcea, so must remember to order seeds for the spring.
When I finally step back to look at the day's work, I am rewarded with the sight of all those little Queen-of-the-Prairie leaves as well as vast areas of bare ground, ready for the promise of next spring, a promise that has become something to hold on to in this new world.