June in the Garden with Second Bloom
by Marsha Ackerman
My blog is a few days late this month. I've been overwhelmed. If statistics existed on the words I use most often to describe my feelings, 'overwhelmed' would probably be #1 (provided all curse words were eliminated). I wish that I was overwhelmed with love, or gratitude, or even too much free time, but the truth is that it's usually stress. Spring is the busiest time of year for Second Bloom with garden installations and everyone's mind on outdoor spaces. We are nearing the end of the school year and my schedule is also overwhelmed with end of year activities, projects, and events for the kids. This season has so much excitement and abundance...and exhaustion. I have tried many times to start a routine of meditation. I struggle with centering my mind as it races around in a million directions and also with sitting still. It is virtually impossible for me. Without exception, the only ritual I have found to remind myself to breathe and slow down is a walk through the garden. I cannot help but feel at least a bit more grounded after literally connecting with the ground and its bounty. I actually walk through the garden, as in... not alongside to admire it but I envelop myself completely in it. I step carefully to avoid damaging any plants, which keeps my pace slow. I'm looking directly down at the flowers, having the chance to admire individual buds and blooms, independent of the garden as a whole. My senses are flooded with the colors, scents, and textures around me, pushing aside the worries for a moment and allowing space for breath. It's not a miracle solution that wipes away all troubles. The stress is always there waiting for me at the end. But the rejuvenation that takes place during these moments is enough to sustain me for a while and give me strength.
What to do this month in the garden:
Now that plants are in the ground, set up a feeding schedule.
Without regular feeding, your garden cannot thrive. Granular food can be a good solution for those looking for a low maintenance option. The application is simple, and it lasts for months.
Plant out dahlia tubers and cannas if you haven't already. The ground is warm enough now.
Tie in the new shoots of climbing plants, including clematis, wisteria and honeysuckle, to their supports so they don't get into a tangled mess.
Continue sowing annuals into gaps in borders for color from August into autumn.
Plant out tender annuals, including sunflowers, cosmos and nasturtiums.
Check lilies and fritillaries for scarlet lily beetles and their larvae, as they can rapidly strip plants of all foliage. Neem oil is a lifesaver for this. I treat my lilies preemptively to keep the beetles away.
Stay on top of weeding as much as you can. 10 minutes a day gets so much done and forces you to take that walk I was talking about.
Something to read:
Gaia's Garden by Toby Hemenway
"Many people mistakenly think that "ecological gardening"―which involves growing a wide range of edible and other useful plants―can take place only on a large, multiacre scale. As Hemenway demonstrates, it’s fun and easy--even for the beginner--to create a “backyard ecosystem” by assembling communities of plants that can work cooperatively and perform a variety of functions."
This book is a fabulous place to start thinking about the ways we can each choose to live in an ecologically mindful way without being totally 'overwhelmed' with the process. Each small step matters.
Something to listen to:
The Beatitudes by Arvo Part (I can't get this stupid computer to make an umlaut)
I sang this piece with the Trinity Boston choir in college, and it has been one of my favorites ever since. It is my favorite Bible passage and a stunning reminder.
With love, Celia & Marsha