the Curve (and losing ground)
I’m missing a gene. Okay, maybe two or three.
This is the
time of year when gardeners are told to dream, to curl up
with their favorite magazine or catalog with that hot cup
of cocoa or tea (naturally decaffeinated, of course), to
look upon their snow-covered blank slate of a garden and
imagine the endless possibilities of the coming growing
season. Golden retriever at your side, your mate happily
puttering away in the next room (creating ingenious and
achingly beautiful mosaic tiles from thrift store ceramic
pieces) you flip through the stack of horticultural
publications, carefully marking and clipping articles and
ads for the newest All-America Selections, secure in the
knowledge that this year’s garden would be the
absolute envy of even Gertrude Jekyll, had she not
departed this vale of tears some seven decades ago.
You sigh, you scratch Charlie’s head (dog, not
mate), you sip the hot beverage. Life is good.
If the Human Genome Project ever sends a mapping
expedition to my block, they will discover that those
genes are not in my pool. I refer to the catalogs, the
dreaming, the organizational skills (both personal and
mate), the planning, the confidence, the execution. The
Ergo, I present the Mike Nowak Gardening Calendar for
anno Domini 2003:
January: Look through garage, basement, closets
and onion bin for spring bulbs. Throw out moldy and
desiccated bulbs. Wait for semi-warm day; find pickax and
plant surviving bulbs. Retreat indoors; apply appropriate
alcoholic beverage to hot drink.
February: Shovel snow from backyard concrete walk.
Dig through piles of shoveled snow to find garden tools.
Throw garden tools in a pile; vow to clean, lubricate and
sharpen sometime before September.
March: Find garden hose in yard exposed by melting
snow. Buy new hose; vow that this year you’ll coil
it and bring it indoors in November. Visit Flower and
Garden Show; purchase seeds that you will lose, find,
then plant in August, much too late to be of any good to
April: Admire budding trees and shrubs; realize
that you have missed the window of opportunity to do
dormant pruning. Notice that spring bulb growth
isn’t quite as vigorous as it should be; ponder
reasons why. Pay exorbitant prices for bulbs already in
bloom; plant them in yard.
May: Visit pile of rusty tools; say
“Ah.” Promise you will get to them…uh,
soon. Go online (you forgot to order the magazines and
catalogs) to study cold frame designs; next year
you’ll build one for sure.
June: Stop at favorite nursery to purchase pansies
and other cool annuals for early spring planting. Wonder
why the pansies are looking a little leggy and tired.
Think about planting seed for cool-weather veggies like
lettuce. Buy lettuce at the local Jewel.
July: As lawn goes dormant in record-breaking
heat, consider spring fertilizing program. Purchase
lovely spring ephemerals like forget-me-nots and Virginia
bluebells; they’re way past bloom so stick them in
an out-of-the-way place, then throw them away in two
months when they turn to dried sticks and leaves.
August: Plant summer bulbs like canna and
gladiolus; don’t worry, there’s still plenty of
time for them to reach their full potential.
September: Visit pile of rusty tools; tell them
you’re absolutely positive you’ll get to them
in a few days. Buy last two sickly Wave petunias at Home
Depot for container that somehow got forgotten this year;
plant in last year’s potting mix; wait for a
October: Think about planting glorious summer
bloomers like coneflower and rudbeckia; just think about
it ‘cause you missed that boat, too.
November: Dig up cannas and gladiolus bulbs;
ponder why they didn’t reach their full potential.
December: Start compost pile; yeah, it’s
cold, but nothing was ever achieved in gardening without
some suffering. Retreat indoors; apply appropriate
alcoholic beverage to hot drink. Throw away now-fused
pile of rust; tell mate and friends that you are adding
garden tools to Xmas list.
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