Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Vegetable Garden Sleeps.....

As we head into the depths of winter here in the Northland, my focus is shifting from the year that was to the year that will be.  After a brief respite of a few weeks I am ready to jump back in.  You see, gardening never really stops here.  It is a year round event.  One year gently bleeds into another as we frugally use up last years bounty, we simultaneously set our sights on next year's.  A blank slate is always a good thing as it affords us a chance at redemption for things that didn't work out so well as well as the promise of new challenges that await.
The spring renewal isn't months off.  It is now.  The planning for what I will be eating next year at this time is happening right now.  My basic template doesn't change much but all the intricate details do.  New varieties to try, new methods of production, and new layouts are all part of the fun of planning.  There is a certain element of fantasy to it.  As gardeners, we need that fantasy to sustain us through the dark days of winter.
The 2016 vegetable garden was a huge success and I wonder if I can duplicate it this year.  So many crops did wonderful.  The weather is very fickle here and it takes a certain amount of luck to have it all come together.  A few tweaks  here and there and the rest is out of our hands.  We play the hand we are dealt.

Sometimes when we try to look forward it is important to look back.  This is especially true in the landscape.  Winter is a wonderful time to assess things.  We can see the bones.  We can see what we like and what is working.  We can see what needs to change.  We get a vision for where we are going.  We look for elements to get us there.  Landscaping is much more of a long term project than growing food.
I often think about the history of this place at this time of year.  For about 23 years, I've been working on it.  There was nothing here when I started.  It too, was a blank slate.  The landscape has evolved slowly with no master plan to start, just a general sense of what I wanted to do.  The twenty year vision as I like to call it.  You start collecting the pieces of the puzzle and slowly you put them together.  Each of these trees has a story.  Where they were purchased, why they were purchased, and how they came to be where they are now are all parts of those stories. 
Pinus cembra 'Chalet'

Betula nigra 'Heritage'

Tsuga canadensis

Pinus cembra 'Nana'

Parts of it have been built, ripped out, and rebuilt again.  Like a lava flow, every year it builds on itself and it is this time of year in which the course is plotted for the next season.  Deciding what you want to accomplish is always difficult and often changes.  Finding the right parts to achieve those goals can also be a challenge.  A certain type of plant for that one spot, or a new and unusual plant to be tucked in there, or that Zone 5 or 6 plant that begs to be given the opportunity to survive in Zone 3. The garden is dynamic, always changing.  This is why it is always fresh and I never get tired of it.
Soon, all those decisions will be made, the orders sent, and the plants and supplies will begin arriving in that mailbox out there.  Just like every year before.

The anticipation of renewal, redemption, and progress is what keeps us going, not only in the garden, but in life as well.  Now is the time to start putting those pieces in place and making the vision a reality.  Fantasy now, work later.  Before long, we will be sharing a glass or two of wine in the shade after a long day in the garden sun. The Sillydog will be at our feet.

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