Chronicle October 2008 | Chronicle December 2008

November 2008

We’re in the midst of November and late autumn bleakness, and very few people are smiling.

When one has a garden, it’s possible to live — on hope, expectations and on dreams that somehow everything will come together and fall into place. Everything in life has its natural place, here and now. Everything — body and soul — needs to rest. I firmly believe that gardens and nature are important for our wellbeing.

What’s there to do in the garden in the middle of this month?

First of all, it’s possible to just stand and admire the wonderful saffron crocuses that are still in full bloom. In fact, our saffron crocuses don’t begin blooming until the middle of October/beginning of November. Here they are, standing to attention by the copse of pine trees. Be careful not to tread there, don’t step there, and DON’T let the dog run about there.

I stroll around the garden, almost in disbelief over everything I’ve managed to get into the ground; all the bulbs that are just lying there, waiting for the coming year.

Despite the present gloom, spring WILL come. Already now, it’s possible to see small crocus bulbs protruding from the soil here and there. –Here I come, here I come. It’s just a question of having a bit of patience; that’s usually the case, with gardens and with life in general.

Although it’s the middle of November, our garden season is far from over. We’re now busy watering the rhododendron and azaleas. If you live by a lakeside, perhaps you don’t need to think about it as much, but it’s no secret that rhododendron and many other plants need abundant amounts of water in the autumn. The hose pipes are on several hours each day, and this will continue as long as there’s no ground frost; if the plants don’t get sufficient water, their buds will go dry.

When I walk around the garden in the evening, I think about the season that has just ended. What happened? Hasn’t it finished? And what should I do now? –begin planning for the next season.

But, obviously, there ARE things still to be done —  the leaves need to be collected, the pond has to be thoroughly cleared of leaves and debris  before the winter (to prevent an explosion of algae in the spring), and there are lots of other tasks — a garden doesn’t lie still. But amidst all this, take time to go around the garden; pay attention to the common orpine (Sedum telephium Matrona), a wonderful hardy perennial with succulent leaves and clusters of purple-pink flowers, and take a stroll in the now slumbering orchard where the fruit trees – apple, pear and plum – stand bereft of leaves. Take a moment, look around and think of what the spring will bring — the transformation is almost unimaginable.

A garden involves a great deal of work but also brings so much joy, so much tranquility ... such harmony. Gardens are so evocative, they’re like a spring from which so many senses and feelings burst forth. But, at the same time, one shouldn’t forget that the garden must also be allowed to rest.

- But, my dear, it’s still a little too early.

We can hope that the weather will become a bit colder and bring with it lots of snow.

A garden in November, oh yes...tidy up a bit here, clear away a bit there, but first and foremost the garden is about to begin its winter slumber. But, truth be told, a garden never fully rests, and there’s always something to do.

As I once said: plant the seed and get on with other things. The tiny seed (or bulb, for that matter) will make its way through some day. Count on it!

-Careful! Don’t step on me. I’m about to come up.
-Oh yes, I can see you. There are bulbs everywhere.

For a long time now, I’ve had plans in place for the next wonderful season in the garden. Make sure always to be one step ahead – that’s my advice!

Oops! Wait a minute — the watering cans are still outside— I’d better deal with them.

It’s November. Light some candles, kindle the fire. The descent into winter has begun, but soon it will be spring again. When other people are taking down their window boxes, it’s time for me to put up mine; they provide a wonderful bed for winter greenery in the form of spruce and pine twigs and branches, plus a scattering of cones. When the garden season is over, it’s time to come inside and enjoy things from within the home; this is also important for a general sense of wellbeing.
Despite the darkness, November, too, can enrich our lives.

A Gentleman Gardener