This past Sunday, New Year’s Day, The New York Times ran a great piece about quiet (“The Joy of Quiet,” by Pico Iyer). I can relate. Though I live in the Hudson Valley where it gets pretty cold this time of year (12 degrees Fahrenheit when I woke up this morning), and though I’m a gardener who loves digging in the dirt in my spare time (back to that in a minute), I think that January has become my favorite month. Because it’s quiet. As a landscape designer who does not do installation, most of my work is indoors, even in the busiest times of year (I wonder if Ken Smith‘s family still asks him why he doesn’t have dirt under his fingernails with all that “landscaping” he does…). But clients never call in January and February, and installation doesn’t need to be supervised, etc. etc. etc., and just generally I can worry less about juggling my design work and my work with the TLN. Ironically, the only time when I seem to have spare time is when the ground is frozen solid…
Archive for the ‘Winter’ Category
The TLN Blog has published posts in the past on winter wildlife, and we will do so again in the coming year. But today I’m sharing this post from one of my favorite blogs, Beautiful Wildlife Garden:
The article discusses the many rewards of creating a winter wildlife garden and offers tips on how to best provide food, water, and shelter for birds.
And speaking of which, the Audubon Christmas Bird Count is still on, through January 5th:
Each of the citizen scientists who annually braves snow, wind, or rain, to take part in the Christmas Bird Count makes an enormous contribution to conservation. Audubon and other organizations use data collected in this longest-running wildlife census to assess the health of bird populations – and to help guide conservation action.
Thanks again to Beautiful Wildlife Garden for the heads up on this.
So whether you’re enjoying watching wildlife from the comfort of your warm, cozy home or outside braving the elements as a Citizen Scientist for the Bird Count, connecting with nature at this time of year will nurture and sustain you until spring returns.
And for those of you in the Southern Hemisphere, happy Summer Solstice!
The other day, I was going through a pile of papers and found an envelope that had been mailed to me by a friend five years ago. Having no recollection of what was inside, I opened it up again to find some leaves wrapped in wax paper. Eucalyptus leaves. And suddenly there I was, back in Berkeley, CA, standing in a grove of those tall, majestic trees.
They say that our olfactory system is the most powerful sense for triggering memory. Designers and horticultural therapists often use fragrant plants in gardens for people with dementia precisely because they are so effective. When we think of fragrance in the garden, we often stick to flowers. But if you’ve ever smelled freshly mown grass, or piñon trees after a New Mexico thunderstorm, or the crushed leaves of just about any culinary herb, you know that flowers are just part of the story.
This is the time of year when people are buying Christmas trees. To me, one of the nicest things about a live tree is the way it fills the room with its resiny aroma. Give me that and some eggnog with nutmeg (oh, and rum…) and I’m in the spirit.
For more reading on the importance of scent as a memory trigger and some of the research behind it, see these two previous TLN Blog posts:
“More on Scent and Memory – Guest post by Wendy Meyer.” This post includes a link to Meyer’s thesis, “Persistence of Memory: Scent Gardens for Therapeutic Life Review in Communities for the Elderly.”
Do you have a fragrance that’s an especially strong memory trigger? Have you used it in your or your clients’ gardens? Leave a comment here!
Well, it wasn’t easy coming home to below-freezing temperatures yesterday after spending a week of summer in tropical Peru. My “office” on Saturday was in the hotel courtyard in Lima.
Today I’m back inside, working by the glow of the pellet stove, once again bundled in long underwear and wool, with a freshly fallen blanket of snow on the ground outside.
But yesterday as I was walking through the mostly snowcovered landscape of my winter garden, I encountered a welcome surprise: My witch hazel has bloomed! This variety, Hamemelis x intermedia ‘Jelena,’ tends to bloom earlier than some of the others like ‘Arnold’s Promise.’ Last year, a mild winter, flowers were already appearing at the end of December. Not so this year – record cold and snow has kept those buds closed up tight. I was beginning to wonder whether they would ever release their grip. A couple of warm days last week were enough to coax them into emerging.
One of my first blog posts ever, from January 2008, was about Jelena. Here’s an excerpt:
It’s 23 degrees Fahrenheit outside, the warmest it’s been all day, and this is the view from my office window here in Beacon, NY. Now, to some of you this may look rather bleak – the last windswept vestiges of last week’s snowfall, the winter sunlight just barely lighting up that north side of the garden, and a puny tree with no leaves, only bare branches. Well, let me tell you, that tree is a witch hazel, Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena,’ and every time I look at her, a smile creeps across my face. You see, “Jelena,” as I like to call her, holds great promise: The promise of spring, and soon. I learned to appreciate witch hazels in Providence, RI on wintry walks to and from work, and have wanted one (at least one!) in my own garden ever since. I knew when I planted Jelena that long before anything else was even thinking about emerging from dormancy, this intrepid tree would begin to bloom, pushing forth bright red (or yellow or orange, depending on the variety) fingers of delightfully scented blossoms from soft, velvety buds. And today I checked and sure enough, inside of those tight fists of buds are bright red spots promising blossoms in a month, maybe a little more, maybe a little less. Spring in February/March in New York, not too shabby.
My harbinger has announced spring’s imminent arrival. What about you? What signs of spring are you seeing in your garden?