Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
December, 2003
Regional Report

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Continuum in the garden: newly sprouted poppies and the last rose.

End-of-the-Season Appreciation Time in the Garden

Want some respite from the holiday cheer that envelopes us at this time of year? Wander into the garden and enjoy the quietude and chill.

I'm always amazed how much shorter and broader my garden appears, with all the exuberant growth on perennials cut away, and fruit tree leaves blanketing the soil. Whereas I could barely view a portion of one row as I walked through the garden from late spring through early winter, now I can view the whole expanse.

A brochure for a public garden in Canada I came upon years ago urged visiting the winter to "appreciate the layout, the bare bones structure, of the garden." At the time, I'd chuckled at the effort to turn a negative (lack of anything to see) into a positive reason to visit the garden. Every winter since then, however, I've chuckled at myself as I follow that example and admire my own far-from-bleak landscape.

With seeds germinating so sporadically, and seedlings growing so slowly, I have more time than activities to occupy myself. So, I concentrate on what at other times seems less of a priority -- picking up forgotten trimmings, realigning raised bed edging, pulling a tiny weed or two. I do enough to keep myself warm as I commune with each tree and plant and the soil, letting them know how deeply I appreciate their efforts in keeping me occupied and presenting me with fresh fruit and vegetables for my kitchen.

I especially appreciate the bright green baby sprouts all over the garden -- self-sown flowers and parsley and cilantro. It's a game to see how soon I can determine whether the baby shoots are weeds to be plucked, or flowers and vegetables to let flourish or transplant. Sometimes a pathway will take a new turn to avoid trampling a cluster of California poppies or clump of parsley.

It's a peaceful time, a present to myself, and a gift of thanks to my parents for making me a gardener and enabling me to continue feeding and reaping from the very garden they created.

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