Pressing flowers reminds me of my grandmother, my childhood, old books, and diaries. It seems a nostalgic act that captures a moment and creates a beautiful keepsake. I picture Victorian Living Rooms and the gardens that supplied them with a fresh vase of flowers. I can almost hear the ticking of the grandfather clock just around the corner in the entrance hall. The incredible floral wall paper and the smell of homemade baked goods coming from the wood stove in the kitchen. A copper kettle boiling the water that would soon brew the tea to be placed on the dollies that cover the end table near the lovely chair in front of the lace covered windows. A slow and tranquil peaceful moment when the precious joys of a bountiful garden were fulfillment enough for the day.
As the fall season begins and the colors start to change I find my thoughts lingering through the pictures held in my memory of the passing spring and summer. My harvest basket has greatly changed since its first trip to gather the goodies from the early gardens gifts. Once filled with pansies and lavender with purples and pinks galore, it now contains the shades of fall reflected in the skyline by the trees and by the pretty landscape scenes set forth by the neighboring homes adorned with mums and cornstalks.
Although one could find almost any color present at any time of the year, we certainly seem to expect particular colors to dominate our palettes dependent on the season at hand. Following Mother Nature’s lead, home decor, fashion, and even our dinner plates all change their tones and shades with the seasons. This spectacular ride through the rainbow culminates at year’s end. The greens and reds of Christmas displayed by the dark green leaves of the holly with its vivid red berries till its last branch is hidden by the blanket of winters white, are mirrored in our attire, our celebrations, and our expectations.
Here in New England (and in many other parts of the world) our eyes will soon enough be cleansed by winters gleaming white. Just as a rest carefully placed by the composers pen clears the listeners ears for what is soon to follow so does the winter rest our vision for what is soon to come. An extraordinary renewal each year as if the first, the colors of the seasons held in my harvest basket will once again give way to the bright face of the spring time flowers. I much prefer to tell the time not by a watch or clock but simply by which colors fill my harvest basket now.
As is usual in late August, I went out to the garden this morning to begin the fall chores believing that things would be different this year. Convinced that I was there to clean up the strawberry patch and with the intention of planting some new lavender, I foolishly thought that this would take but a few moments.
As is also usual during this annual late August trip to the garden, my happy plans were foiled. A close inspection of the area revealed a much larger and less joyous task ahead. Working full time, taking care of a home, and trying to start a small gardening and crafting business has taken its toll on my time. The strawberries had more than spilled from their beds, they were planning to stay for the winter. Yarrow (which I like to keep when it volunteers as it is an herb and a free one at that) had sprung up everywhere but in the beds that I provide for it. A variety of other weeds had joined the party and entangled themselves amongst the (shall we say) good guys. Worst of all, the bane of my gardening existence, the crab grass, had sent out its long sleek seed filled tentacles in every direction possible.
I believe that crab grass may well be highly intelligent. What it has done over here it will do differently over there. It shoots straight up from between the tall plants sunning its' seed pods alongside the field flowers. If the competing plants are low to the ground, it crawls beneath them and lays its' pods in the shadows. If you were positive that the completely abused dried up space where you toss the hose was safe, you'd be wrong. It is just that type of space where it flourishes most of all crawling and spiking both. If you don’t keep it in check it will suffocate the entire garden growing vigorously while producing nothing but dessert like ground.
So here it is the afternoon and here I sit feeling defeated. After three hours of separating the strawberries from the yarrow and tearing the crab grass from the ground, I have retreated from the heat of the day. Worn and torn, my fingertips sting and my knuckles are sore. I literally wear holes in my gloves while fighting the crab grass enemy. Another battle fought but not to be won for I know every root fragment left behind and every seed pod which has managed to survive will be back to fight another day. I refuse to use chemicals. I could pull up every blade of grass that I see (although that can be little obsessive and time consuming). I use cardboard, landscape cloth, and mulch but all of this merely deters not rectifies. Overtime, this vile weed crawls beneath the covering until it manages to push its head up through a pinhole starting the whole process over again.
And so, the war goes on. Possibly by this evening I will have regained enough energy to plant the lavender and to tend to those poor strawberries (who have suffered a great trauma and are currently sitting in dirt-less buckets). Maybe it will have to wait until tomorrow. The only absolute is this…the crab grass will be back to fight another day and I will be forced to either take up arms or relinquish the battlefield that I call garden and home.
Although I am grateful that the summer continues to linger, I find myself already missing the joys of the springtime. After such a harsh winter, the awakening of spring brought forth great relief with it's colorful display of life renewed and I find myself a little sad to ponder it's passing. Soon I will be adding summer harvest pictures to this Blog, but before I do so... a little tribute to the delights of spring 2014 in the Huckleberry Gardens.
Ruffled Ones Too
Little Viola Parties
Grape Hyacinth True and Blue
White Cups of Daffodil Trumpet
Yes, Yellow as They Are
The Fragrance of the Lilacs
The Spice of Radish Tingling Tongue
The Sweet Red Strawberries Bless Us All
The Purple Allium a Sparkling Star
Good Night to Spring Two Oh One Four, Can't Wait til Five to See Some More.