21 February 2008

Flurries, feathered friends and other miscellany

I’ve mentioned before how we are often inclined to get something we fondly refer to as ‘flurries where winds blow on shore.’ After the brief respite--I did warn it would be brief!--we had one of those days and nights yesterday, and I’d estimate, judging by the look of the yard and the sides of the road, that we got about 4 inches of ‘flurries’. Of course, with those famous winds that blow onshore, there are places where fields are bare, and other places where drifts are quite tall. In our yard, however, things are mostly sensible—because of those mild days and rains that did take away a lot of the snow, about the deepest patch I can find is somewhere around three feet in length, stretching along the upper paddock fence line like a cresting wave down at the beach.

It's been amusing to watch the bluejays this morning, because the temperature has also dropped into the teens (about -10 C, I think). The jays are fluffed up to be the size of partridge, setting in the rhododendron and diving out during lulls in the wind to have a snack at the feeders. Even more fun was watching the cats watch the birds, although Spunky Boomerang and Simon Q are exhausted from all that activity and have decided that having a rest is more important than watching bird television, at least for a while.

In between working on assignments, I’ve been doing some reading up on—what else?—plants, poring over the latest magazines, books, and of course those plant catalogues that I love to mention. I’ve also been spring-cleaning my computer hard drive, sorting out articles and ideas, photos—oh me nerves, there are too many plant photos!—and generally pretending I’m being organized.

Something a friend said the other day ticked in my mind when in shuffling through my harddrive documents, I came across a quotation that I really like, and that sums up the way many of us like to garden; using the style of ‘benevolent neglect’. An editor friend of mine told me that a late gardener from up around Stewiake, NS, used to describe her garden thriving under her tender ministrations of benevolent neglect. Others have confessed to worrying so much over their gardens in the summer, overworking themselves sometimes in the quest to make everything look 'perfect'.

One of the things I do when giving talks or writing articles is encourage people not to stress over their gardens. Just relax and enjoy it all—we’re supposed to be gardening for the love of it, not to get all into a froth over having perfectly edged borders and flawless drifts of perfectly matched perennials, immaculately mowed and trimmed expanses of velour-green grass (blerk!) and everything just so, like something out of a Martha Stewart daydream. If that’s the way you want your garden and your yard, that’s fine with me—but let’s not stress about these things unduly. It's about gardening for joy, isn't it, and making our patch of earth a happier, more peaceful and lovely spot, isn't it?

What I can see of our back garden looks not so much like it’s suffering from benevolent neglect at the moment—instead, it’s just resting under a perfect carpet of snow. The wind exhausted itself and took a little pause, the flurries relaxed…and the sky smiled to empart a perfect winter sunset, just before the performance of the lunar eclipse, which others have already talked about, including Lisa at Greenbow's marvelous collection of photos.

After the grunge that emerged earlier in the week, I actually prefer this. Underneath, the garden sleeps, while I make plans to add to, amend, change, and encourage the plants already there…in moderation, and without stress. It is, after all, my labour of love and a labour in progress, not a deadline driven assignment.

Speaking of which--I'm always juggling deadlines, which is how I prefer to work, but occasionally bump up against one that is giving me a headache. So I'm a bit behind in my blog-reading, emailing, commenting, and so on, including replying to all your comments here on Bloomingwriter. For now, I'll just warmly welcome those of you who are new to visiting, thank everyone for their cheery and helpful comments (especially about hellebores, and Frances, I did get a couple boughs over top of my plant!), and will catch up on visiting others in the next few days.

And I'm a bit wistful, too; yesterday would have been my dad's 76th birthday, had he not been taken from us by early-onset Alzheimers several years ago. I feel him around me all the time, sometimes more strongly than others, and never as much as when I'm in the garden, or thinking about planting tomatoes. Miss you always, Dadums.


  1. Jodi - You and I are certainly on the same page right now. And yes, your dad is still with you. My friend taught me to imagine my father standing next to me with his arm around my shoulders whenever I have something hard to do. It really works. Loved the photo of Leggo that you posted yesterday. I'm Clicker Training Siete - I think Leggo and you would enjoy it in this crazy weather.

  2. Gorgeous sunset!

    I'm new to blog reading, even more recently I've discovered garden blogs. I'm de-lurking to say I enjoy reading your blog.

    It sounds like you have lovely memories of your dad. What a beautiful, yet understandably wistful experience - the comfort of feeling him all around you.

  3. Love your post , especially your tribute to your Dad. Somehow gardening soothes ones soul in the best way.

  4. hi jodi
    it is tammy from connecticut-i found your blog thru gypsysramblings-i think? :)
    i have been lurking for awhile and decided to stop in and tell you that i love your blog!-novia scotia is a place high on my list of places to see one day-and you sure give this gal a nice treat;)
    what a great bunch of cats you have-8-oh such fun!! i have two-but would welcome more if i could-just thought i would say hello and thanks for sharing the beauty of your little corner of the world :)
    many thanks

  5. Hi Jodi, Thanks for the link.
    Your garden looks so dramatic with this sunset behind it. Just gorgeous!!

    I am sure your Dad is with you always Jodi. He is probably trying to tell you to try a new tomato this year. :)

    We are even getting ice today. So odd for us. I am glad I don't have to go out to work today.

    Such a nice chatty post today. Fun to visit with ya.

  6. Your graceful cats at rest perfectly illustrate your point about not stressing over gardens. Thanks for that timely reminder as I gear up for the very first moment I can leap off the comfy chair and take up my garden spade.

    I particularly enjoy the variations illustrated in pictures of the blue arbor in your garden. It gives perspective to what would otherwise seem random. Your winter has been a study in contrasts.

  7. What a beautiful post. I even like the look of those flurries, in a sort of *Gothic way*, they are like a *great and terrible beauty* but then nature and life is like that. Gardening reminds us of what nature is really like, that is why I do it. It keeps me sane and my perspective rational.

    Those sleeping cats are adorable. I need to post a pic of Miss Charlotte, my cat.

    Thanks for such a lovely post.

  8. Love the kitty pic! And that sunset is just as peaceful looking as it is beautiful.

  9. Jodi - just read through these last two posts... enjoyed everything, including Leggo and Jenney's freedom.
    I, too, lost my Dad several years ago and seem to feel his strength and presence, especially in the quiet moments (you brought a lump to my throat).

    It sounds as if your journey to spring is more uncertain and torturous than ours, here in New England... but, we will all get there, eventually... Deb

  10. A perfect sunset photo!

    ‘benevolent neglect’ certainly describes my garden. :)

    I'm glad you have good memories of your dad.

  11. I agree Jodi, if it's going to be cold then we might as well have snow on the ground. It's better for the plants and is so much easier on the eyes than the muck and mire we get with a melt down. We'll have plenty of time to deal with that sight when the weather warms up.
    Your sunset is glorious. I wanted to get a photo of the eclipse but forgot all about it until it was too late.
    Sending a sympathetic hug for your wistful memories of your dad. My dad died in June of last year at 90. He'll always be a part of you. Love your 'forget-me-nots'. Good choice for the anniversary.
    Those kitty cats know how to relax :)

  12. jod, your garden looks good under snow and ice, in the wind, in full bloom, and dried!

    Love that sunset, and glad the cat children are back on the border.

  13. We had 4" of flurries yesterday. They must have headed your way. We're getting ready for round two tonight (more snow and ice). I love your sunset photo, it's beautiful.

    I got a glimpse of the eclipse, it was very beautiful. I wish I would have woke my son up to go take a look.

  14. Jodi, you are such a wonderful garden cheerleader! I definitely garden for joy, and for butterflies and hummingbirds too.

    It is snowing again here too. Bummer.

    Alzheimer's is a double thief isn't it? I could sit here and cry thinking about what it has done to my dear husbands mother.

  15. Greetings from Downeast, Maine! I found you on Blotanical and had to visit since we have the same coastal climate in which to garden. I'm also a Sunflower and have two rescue kitties, Spike and Sluggo. I'll be back to visit often!

  16. Jodi, you sound like you are in a very reflective mood. That is a good thing, as is the fact that you covered your hellebore, hope it works. You need a break, I have taken one myself and feel much less stressed. Our loved ones live in our memories, it is especially nice when they choose to let their presence be felt by us.

    Frances at Faire Garden

  17. Tomorrow is another day closer to spring for those of us who have 'sleepy gardens', jodi. I plant in memory of those I love and have lost. My garden is a personal journey. As always, your post is touching.

  18. Your question of, "It's about gardening for joy, isn't it, and making our patch of earth a happier, more peaceful and lovely spot, isn't it?" sums it all up for me! That's what it's ALL about!

    Cindy at Rosehaven Cottage

  19. that's a very nice post. bit of personal touch. thank you :)
    my dad died 10 years ago, I also still feel him around. I also 'see' him sometimes - often I see people and from the depth is coming 'OMG, he looks like dad...'

  20. You need lots of hugs today!! Here are many and you may keep them as long as you like. I did enjoy your blog as usual. You pack so much into a small space. I mean--your writing says so much in a few little paragraphs. It makes me ponder a lot. I go off on tangents with my thoughts while hearing what you have to say. It looks blustry there today. Stay warm and add some rich hot chocolate to your tummy.

  21. Jodi,
    Thank you for taking the time so send us words of encouragement. I almost feel selfish grieving over our garden when so many have lost so much. We just really put our heart into it this past year and were really looking forward to seeing fruition this spring and summer. Be glad you don't have to deal with these blasted storms. Their power is amazing and very scary. Thank you again and please don’t be a stranger to our site we look forward to hearing from you. -Randy

  22. Jodi,
    Your site is always such a good one to visit. I really enjoy seeing your blue arbor and the variety of scenes we are viewing around and through it.

    Gardening truly provides a respite. Often a very necessary one. Adding the memory of loved ones fuses an entirely new and somehow "more complete" dimension to the gardening process.

    When my family was young, we took a wonderful 3-week camping vacation through the east and north. One highlight was Acadia Island off Maine. We had to bypass Nova Scotia. It was Very Hard to do. We experienced lovely parks and sights in Canada. I'd love to go east again...

  23. The sunset photo is especially nice. I wish I could quit stressing about my garden, but if I don't keep up with the spring weeds, they take over quickly. Not quite the best of times, or the worst of times in my garden, but probably the time of the most work!
    I too think of my dad at times while in the garden. He was a farmer, and he seemed to be able to "read" the earth, weather and seasonal changes, which to me as a child, seemed magical. Your post is lovely.

  24. The term 'benevolent neglect' strikes a cord with me. I do what I call 'selective weeding' of the prolific self seeders in my gardens and routinely leave too many to grow.

    So sorry about your Dad. I lost my Mom to Alzheimers a year ago, so I can sympathize. I just dedicated a post to her.

  25. Jodi -- what sage advice you have given us all. My mantra for this year is that life is a journey, not a destination. I wear a bracelet that says that and even gave a good friend a necklace with the Chinese symbol for the word journey (she and I have the same "issues!!!"). It's good to be reminded of that - gardening is our joy, and we should revel in it instead of fret over it.

  26. I'm in a deadline-driven business too. I write all day long. At the end of the day I wonder how I have anything left to thinking about writing. Not to mention juggling deadlines and other commitments. Not enough hours...

    At least for me, the writing and thinking about gardening is an escape from the other work. However do you make your work your passion too?

    Robin at Bumblebee

  27. Hi Jodi - just stopping through as a new visitor. I love the cat pictures and that you rescued a bunch of em. I love that in a person :) I rescued several in my life, and currently have a brother and sister, 3, orange and white...and do they rule the roost. They're also quite pudgy. I'm trying to be a good Mom and feed them right, but I think they're just too lazy to exercise. :) See ya soon! Hinsley

  28. Love the photos, that last one is brilliant. And the cats! Love them!

  29. Your garden looks nice and peaceful sleeping under its new white coverlet.

    I've taken a leaf out of my kittycats book about my attitude towards gardening and life in general. Your pic of Spunky and Simon Q more or less sums it up. ;-)

    Alzheimers is such a horrid disease! Snowdrops seem to produce a certain stuff that slows it down but it is difficult to get hold of in big enough quantities.

    I'm glad that you feel your dad so often around you, especially in the garden.

  30. Your sunset picture is just beautiful. I'm sorry for the loss of your father, Jodi.


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