Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Spring Fever and Balance

Good morning gardeners,

The past few days in Portland have been lovely warm and sunny with unseasonal highs in the 80s. Early spring is an exciting and frantic time for gardens in the pacific northwest. There is always more to plant, always more to maintain, and endless projects in the garden as temperatures warm.

The seasonal nature of my business makes spring a very busy time for me. My husband and I haven't shared a day-off together since January. On his days off work he sometimes accompanies to the garden classes I teach just to spend time with me. Such is the ebb & flow of spring. After 6 weeks of 6 day work weeks this week I finally enjoyed an actual 2 day weekend. Just in the nick of time for my sanity and also to catch some amazing weather in my own garden.

My secret garden is my sanctuary and a place of deep restoration for me. However, as an urban gardener living right off of NE Alberta street my time in my own beloved garden is often punctuated by the sounds and smells of city life; lawn mowers, leaf blowers, delivery trucks, buses, and construction. Combined with a myriad of music, talking, dogs barking, and cigarette smoke from my many neighbors my secret garden is not always the peaceful place I intend it to be.

Yesterday I spent a blissful four hours working in my secret garden. Our wisteria out front is blooming and the air was scented with it's delicious vanilla fragrance. As the gentle breeze blew, delicate white petals rained down from the cherry tree behind our house. Birds sang, chirped, and happily splashed in my bird bath. The tiny hummingbird that calls my garden her home, sang loudly to let me know she was there and waiting for my red flowers to begin blooming again.

Blooming wisteria, lilac, dogwood tree, cherry tree, mexican orange, rosemary, bleeding heart, native bleeding heart, lungwort, iris, buttercups, tulips, primrose, and violets abound in my garden. The very first bright red rhododendron flower opened. Tightly budded herbaceous peonies and oriental poppies tease me, they are some of my favorite flowers and I can hardly wait. My clematis curls it's delicate tendrils towards the sky, beginning to develop pointy buds. Oriental, tiger, and maragon lily leafy stems all stand at least a foot tall.

The raspberry canes naked all winter have leafed out in a frenzy of green. Both delicate and chubby fiddleheads are unfurling on my many varieties of ferns. Our four japanese maple trees have leafed out once again enveloping our secret garden and little cottage into a shady summer retreat. Creeping jenny ground cover has sprung back to life creeping across the ground in a bright golden carpet. Hellebores and winter daphne begin to fade, making room for the much anticipated show of hydrangea and azalea.

Looking closely at the flower garden soil I notice 3 of my dahlia varieties have courageously poked their green heads out of the warm soil. Indeed the soil is warm. When digging holes for sunflower seeds and a new dahlia variety 'giggles' the soil in my bare hand is warm and moist on my skin. Perfect conditions for seed germination and dahlia tubers.

In the vegetable garden I planted seeds for three varieties of beets and two of carrots. The radish seeds I planted last week have germinated. Around the vegetable garden raised beds and containers I tuck in transplants of companion flowers-alyssum, calendula, lobelia, and marigolds. The herb garden adds dill and mexican oregano. With afternoon temperatures in the 80s I watered everything in deeply and know I will need to keep the soil consistently moist for ideal seed germination. The warm sun on my skin felt so good. Such a blissful ideal planting day in my garden.

Best of all, it was silent.

No neighbor noise, no big trucks, no construction, no leaf blowers. It was was only hours later when I realized how relaxed, grounded, restored, and happy I was that I reflected on how meaningful is quiet.

During my work weeks I spend time with a lot of students in my workshops and a lot of horticultural therapy clients in my clinical work. Sometimes I am teaching 2-3 gardening workshops a week and meeting up to 100 students. My horticultural therapy clients are a wide range of ages and abilities including developmental disabilities, intellectual disabilities, mental illness, seniors with dementia, people recovering from stroke, traumatic brain injury, heart attack, and injuries, inpatient & outpatient pediatrics. During my work maintaining hospital healing gardens I come into contact with a diverse group of patients, families, and staff.

On average I commute anywhere between 500-800 miles/month driving between my work sites all over the Portland metro area. At least twice a week I cross the bridge to Washington. This is a satisfying, abundant, and busy work life with my own business and as a horticultural therapy intern.

I crave quiet and nature for restoration. Contemplative time, time in my garden, and quiet all help bring my life back into balance. Did you know that being in nature and even passive views of nature from a window both help lower blood pressure & heart rate, slow breathing, and reduce muscle tension? Nature is medicine. We spend too much time inside in front of electronics.

Our spring equinox was on March 20th and that day marks the even balance of day and night hours. The spring season is about blossoming and rapid growth, but it is also about staying in balance. What do you want to blossom and grow in your life? How do you nurture that? What do you do to restore and keep balance in your life? The Gardening Goddess is here to remind you of wellness through nature. Enjoy!

Happy Spring,

No comments: