It’s January. The wind is howling. The rhododendron leaves are curled and pointing straight down. Inside, it’s cozy. And what’s shown up in the mail? Garden catalogues!
I page through them, looking at the splendid plants and flowers, longing to be able to get out in the garden and work.
Of course, I remind myself that since I’m getting older, I really can’t work in the garden the way I’d like to. “Don’t kneel,” the orthopedic surgeon said. How am I supposed to weed if I can’t kneel?
And I became convinced, years ago, that the pictures in the catalogues are of professional flower models, not the ones that would grow if I ordered and planted those particular varieties. It’s just like clothes in a catalogue—the people wearing them are not only professional models, but the pictures have been airbrushed to perfection. If I order the clothes in the catalogue and put them on, I will look no more like the pictures than the flowers in my garden will look like the ones in the catalogue.
A weak winter sun is out, but the snow cover is scant, providing no protection whatsoever to the perennials
|Squirrels, mice and moles
leave the daffodils alone.
I did get some bulbs planted last fall. Mostly daffodils. My husband, who has some degree of colorblindness, can’t see yellow and orange. I’m not entirely sure, but I think they appear to him as shades of gray. So he’d rather I plant bright red and purple tulips, which he can appreciate.
It’s not that I haven’t tried. I have gotten fine, healthy tulip plants, their sturdy stems sporting buds about to explode with color. And, the next morning, each bud has been bitten off, leaving ranks of empty, sturdy stems like so many soldier in drab khaki standing in formation.
Same thing happens sometimes with the daylilies. Strong plants, each with multiple majestic scapes rising flowerless above the leaves.
|Deer will eat most plants.
Many of the evergreens are bare to the height that deer can browse, then fill out above. One especially snowy winter, I looked out the window to see a doe standing on the back deck, showing her fawn how to lean over the railing and eat the shrubs from above.
Most years, they leave the hosta alone, but once in a while, those, too, become fodder for the deer. Sometimes they come back the next year. Sometimes they don’t.
Ever since I lost a Japanese maple to a buck who chose it for repeated rubs, I encircle the base of trees I especially want to grow with chicken wire. That works pretty well. It also works well to disable the mower if it’s pulled off the tree and left in high grass or weeds. And there are two trees with chicken wire now embedded in the trunks, where I forgot I had placed it.
Still, I’m ever hopeful. And gullible. I eagerly read the catalogue descriptions of the flowers and believe them. Frost hardy! Tolerant of drought! Blooms in semi-shade! I have a blind faith that, if I buy them and plant them, I, too, will have a garden filled with thriving plants and flowers.
Meanwhile, the mice are undoubtedly chewing up the wiring of the mowers. The squirrels have long since dug up the crocus bulbs. The forsythia is preparing to set buds just prior to the last prolonged hard frost, which will kill them and mean a year without their shower of welcome yellow blooms.
I did remember to disconnect the hose from the outdoor spigot before it froze, didn’t I?