The lovely, white snow filling ditches and covering the landscape has brought a cautious smile to farmers and gardeners alike. But the promise of increased moisture levels and a renewed sense of hope are not the only things these two groups have in common. Like farmers, gardeners have the “hope gene” deep within their genetic makeup: that unshakeable belief that next year things will be better.
And so we plan. I find myself ordering seed catalogues from nurseries across the country. Even if I never order so much as a packet of seeds, the dreaming alone is therapeutic. Flipping through them on cold, dark nights is a visual feast. I automatically gravitate to the flower section for the incredible array of colours and varieties: exotic new “tenders,” tried and true favourites, hybrids, something for everyone. Sometimes I envy our BC or southern Ontario counterparts their extended growing seasons, milder winters and more temperate zone designations. Then in true Alberta fashion, I note that anyone can garden there, but it takes real character, heart and cunning to garden in our Zone 2.
Last fall I nagged Roy into building me two raised garden beds for vegetables. With Hilary’s food allergies and the cardboardy taste of store veggies, I was determined to return to the land this coming spring. Anyone who knows me, knows I haven’t had a real vegetable garden for about 15 years. I resented mosquitoes eating me alive as I weeded after work. I hated that it always needed watering and the original garden plot was 3-50 foot garden hose lengths away and far too large. I failed in all the womanly arts of canning, pickling and jam making. I made the case loud and often for the high cost of seed, fertilizer, sprays, powders, and canning supplies. Not to mention the work. I truly couldn’t understand those people who worked like hell at this and then complained about the 3 freezers being full, the kids who do (or don’t) come out in September for the bounty without the work, and the surplus fed to the pigs each fall.
My weakness has always been flowers and shrubs. I loved the convenience and camaraderie of exchanging perennials with friends. Last year I even started my own annuals. Luckily I kept notes of my misadventure because I did make some mistakes. Started them too soon, started some finicky things that didn’t thrive under my careful eye, relied only on the natural light from our east and south facing windows, seeded too thickly, transplanted clumsily, alienated my loved ones with seed trays on every conceivable surface, and so on and so on. The results, however, were good. The beds were full and lush. I think I’ll try it again this year, with modifications. The diagrams I did of each flowerbed last year will aid in this year’s planning.
This year has got to be better, from where I sit.
*Reprinted with permission