by Marsha Ackerman
I'm sitting here writing my very first blog post while watching the snow come down outside my window. It has just about covered all of the daffodil tops and the brand-new peony heads I just found yesterday peeking through the soil. This year's weather is reminding me of the Buddhist teaching: 'Stress is the gap between our expectations and reality. Serenity comes when you trade expectations for acceptance.' Yeah....I'll be working on that one for a very long time.
The BBC show, Gardener's World, has been a long-time compulsion of mine. One of the most helpful aspects of the show is that every episode ends with a to-do list for the garden. I've often wished I had one that was personalized for Connecticut and the plants we grow here, so I decided to make one and share it. Gardening is not difficult or even all that time consuming as long as you know what to do and don't let the chores pile up too much.
I would also like this blog to be a place to share some thoughts and resources on the garden as it effects our daily lives and minds. Gardening has been central to my own journey dealing with trauma and depression, and I want to encourage others to explore its benefits. Like music, the garden is a place we are able to connect on a deeper level.
What to do this month in the garden:
If you haven't already, cut down deciduous ornamental grasses left standing over winter, before fresh shoots appear. Pruning later in the spring removes the tips of the new grass and can dramatically reduce the display later in the summer.
Prune late-summer flowering clematis (Group 3, which flower on new growth), cutting stems back to healthy buds about 12in. from the base.
Trim back ivy, Virginia creeper and other climbers if they have outgrown their space, before birds start nesting.
Sprinkle slow-release fertilizer around the base of roses and other flowering shrubs. Feed ericaceous shrubs (acid loving shrubs), such as rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias and pieris, with an ericaceous fertilizer.
Tidy up garden beds, removing established and newly germinating weeds. Many of the weeds that pester us all summer actually get their hold in the garden now. Use the cool weather to get ahead of the game and remove them.
Start some seeds! With grey skies and late season snows here in CT, sometimes I need help believing that spring will eventually come. Nothing brings more hope that watching a dried-up seed turn into new life.
Celia guarding this year's seed babies.
Something to read:
There is no end to what we can learn from our gardens. From botany, to horticulture, to psychiatry, plants always have something to teach us. I devoured this transformative book recently and want to share it with you. Gardening has been central to my own ability to handle stress, find joy, and live each day as well as I am able. If you don't trust me, trust Monte Don!
" This is an important and timely book. Mental health is a growing concern and yet is the least developed, least understood, and least well-resourced aspect of medicine. Sue Stuart-Smith's book is beautifully written, drawing on a lifetime's experience as both a clinician and a gardener, and I urge everyone to read it."
-Monte Don, author and lead presenter of Gardners' World
Something to listen to:
Vaughan Williams: The Lark Ascending
This is one of my absolute favorite pieces of music. It is PERFECT for a day like today when we long to feel the hope that spring promises. It is endlessly sentimental, full of bird songs, and packed with sunlight and nostalgia. This is an ideal piece to listen to while planting seedlings!
With love, Celia & Marsha