Press-Republican

Columns

April 23, 2012

Listen to your garden

Can you see what's not there?

You're probably thinking that this is a trick question, that, of course, you can't see what's not there.

If I rephrased it to, "Do you notice what should be there but isn't?" it may make more sense.

I started thinking about this last week while I was sitting on my porch with my dog, Oliver. I have nine or 10 pots on the porch that I have flowering plants in from late spring through fall. Oliver loves to sniff flowers and last week was going from pot to pot sniffing the soil in each one.

After each sniff, he would look at me. By the time he got to the last pot, he was glaring at me, I'm sure of it. Ollie was noticing what was not there but, in his mind, should have been. I think the warm weather threw him off this year. If it's 70 degrees, there should be flowers to sniff, right?

We are all pretty aware of what is in our gardens. This time of year, we notice new growth on the evergreens, bulbs poking up through the soil preparing to bloom, our perennials breaking dormancy and beginning to grow, our lawns greening. These changes seem to happen overnight.

We feel energized and renewed by the signs of life happening around us and begin tending to the needs of our plants as they arise.

Again I ask you, can you see what's not there? How much attention do you give the plants that you don't see, the plants that break dormancy later than their neighbors in the flower bed? Are you mindful of them while you're pulling weeds, adding organic materials or dividing your perennials? Are you careful not to disturb their roots? Do you notice the evergreens that aren't putting out new growth when they should be or the tree branch that is not producing leaf buds?

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