Keep your faith in beautiful things

Mother Nature, it seems, likes to keep us gardeners on our toes. From deep freezes, to prolonged droughts and epic heatwaves, to December tornadoes and back around to another deep freeze. January here in North Texas ended with round one and round two of a four day ice event and made way for February to usher in the final, round three, of ice. In its wake, trees are bent and broken, encased in a thick layer of ice.

“Keep faith in beautiful things; in the sun when it’s hidden, in the spring when it is gone.” (Roy R. Gibson)

It is easy to see the stark beauty of the garden when the sky is dark and heavy with clouds, where few colors remain but shades of gray and white and brown, to pause and take in the frozen wonder all around us.

Keep faith in beautiful things.

Our native buttonbush, shown above, is one of my favorite plants for summer pollinators, though summer seems a long way off today. Still, I can stand under its frozen branches and feel and hear the buzz of bees, a promise that the seasons come and go, winter folds in to spring, then summer.

Keep faith in beautiful things.

Garlic chives (shown above), originally planted 25 years ago, have seeded themselves happily around the property. Every fall, I say I will be diligent about removing the spent flowers before they go to seed, as I really should do more to prevent their onward spread. Every fall, I fail that garden chore and only get a fraction of the seed heads cut down. Today, though, I was lead to this frozen garlic chive and am thankful I hadn’t gotten around to removing its flower. The garlic chive’s umbel flower head, perfectly frozen in time and perfectly representing its Latin meaning: Umbel, meaning “umbrella,” a flower bloom that resembles an umbrella flipped inside out.

Keep faith in beautiful things.

“While it is February one can taste the full joys of anticipation. Spring stands at the gate with her finger on the latch.” (Patience Strong)

We are still unsure if my beloved fig tree (shown above) will ever fully rebound from the hard freeze of February 2021. It was knocked down to the roots and has struggled to regain even a fraction of its once grand size. On good days, I say it is in an important life lesson that we can all learn from the garden. Get knocked down seven times, get up eight times – or so the proverb goes. On bad days, I find myself perusing garden catalogs and planning a replacement, knowing there is likely a life lesson in there, as well. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. And sometimes that may simply mean moving on. Longtime followers of my garden know the hard pivot I made when the one-two punch of rose rosette virus and young onset Parkinson’s altered my garden (and life) plans. Moving on doesn’t mean defeat. Moving on may simply mean cutting your loses and forging ahead on a different path. Only time will tell. This tree produced a few tiny figs very late in the summer, which never ripened, and now remain frozen, shriveled and suspended in ice.

“From December to March, there are for many of us, three gardens: the garden outdoors, the garden of pots and bowls in the house and the garden of the mind’s eye.” (Katherine S. White)

While the garden outdoors is awaiting sunshine, warmer temperatures and a chance to thaw, the garden of pots and bowls inside is sprouting tomatoes, peppers and basils. The anticipation of the spring garden is real. The garden in my mind’s eye is taking shape bit by bit. Seeds have been started. More seeds have been ordered and I anxiously await their arrival so I can expand my indoor seed sowing adventures. My pivot from ornamental gardening to “growing nutrient dense organic foods for my health” is entering its second year. Last year saw the near total deconstruction of the previous garden and the renewal of the garden and the gardener. I enter this year stronger physically and mentally, nourished by a year of tending the vegetables, eating green beans and tomatoes and okra straight off the plant, seeing the garden through last year’s unending summer of record heat and record drought, knowing that we can still thrive in the face of adversity.

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