Winter a good time to turn a new leaf

Winter at last gives us a reprieve from our busy garden duties…

Frosty-white and cold it lies

Underneath the fretful skies;

Snowflakes flutter where the red

Banners of the poppies spread,

And the drifts are wide and deep

Where the lilies fell asleep.

Safe beneath the snowdrifts lie

Rainbow buds of by-and-by;

In the long, sweet days of spring

Music of bluebells shall ring,

And its faintly golden cup

Many a primrose will hold up.

Though the winds are keen and chill

Roses’ hearts are beating still,

And the garden tranquilly

Dreams of happy hours to be

In the summer days of blue

All its dreamings will come true.

The Garden in Winter by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Winter at last gives us a reprieve from our busy garden duties and allows us a quiet and peaceful time to just look out the window at that blanket of white snow that’s covering our yards and to reflect on last year’s gardening season and to plan for the next one coming up.  It’s also an opportunity to read some good gardening books and magazines or to get on the Internet to learn a little more about how we can improve on what we’re doing in them.  I read once that we enter into a kind of partnership with plants that basically says: “I will grow for you if you will tend to me.” The challenge and goal for us gardeners is to find better ways to do just that.   For our sakes and for theirs, we want to keep them healthy and, as my mom puts it, as ‘happy’ as we can.

Winter is also perhaps, a good time for some of us tenders of the plants and soil to examine and rethink the methods being used for dealing with the pests, weeds and use of fertilizers and to make it a new year’s resolution ‘turn a new leaf.’  The Gaia College motto is to “do no harm” to our gardens and to the earth.   So are we?  Are we in any way harming the ecology of the soil by using toxic fertilizers and poisonous insecticides and herbicides that the micro and macro organisms depend on for food, including us, our animals and the birds and bees?  Are we utilizing our water resources properly so that we’re not wasting it on the sidewalk or over or under-watering the plants, which can make them sick and weak? Are we growing plants and trees that are suitable for this climate and the changing climate?

Marjorie Harris, author of the book, Favorite Garden Tips, says: “Gardening should be going with nature, not against it.  Once you have healthy plants and cleaned-up soil, not only will your plants be stronger and more able to withstand any onslaught of disease and munching on by unwanted pests, but you’ll feel better…  I haven’t found it harder or more time-consuming to garden ecologically. When we learn to respect nature and follow nature’s laws, we will make gorgeous gardens.”