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Kicking the Soil and Other Odd Behaviors

This weekend was unseasonably warm in our corner of the garden. It was the last weekend of January, but all signs were screaming “Spring!” in the gardens. I knew it was too soon to garden, but there were some things I had to do that only other gardeners can relate to.


I went to three stores to see if they had their garden supplies on the shelves. I wanted a new canvas lawn bag to replace mine, which is on its last legs. Alas, all the shelves were bare. Drat. Next I went to the grocery store; surely the bags of mulch would be out, right? Nope. So I did what I could do: I packed up my garden tools and headed to the gardens. If it is warm and sunny, there is work to be done in the garden, no matter what the calendar says.

I turned the soil. I was pleasantly surprised to see how easily it moved. Last year it was pretty rough work. The soil in my new garden is loaded with clay, it had been mulched to excess and it was heavily compacted in some parts. Last year I dug and turned, dug and turned until my back and arms ached. I added pine fines and chopped leaves to the disturbed soil. This year, the soil turned with ease!

I spent a lot of time staring, pondering and plotting. It matters not if it is your first year with a garden or your tenth; gardeners are always wondering what can I do better? What new plants can I add? What plants have served their time well and are ready for replacement? I do my best thinking when I am standing in the garden, leaning against the shovel – I just need to be in the space.

I did some pruning. This is a great time to prune the trees and shrubs. Their form is easily visible, making pruning a breeze.

I took the same pictures, again, at the park. Each year I go to the same spots in the gardens to take pictures of the first witch-hazel blooms, and the first winter aconite and snowdrops in bloom. I go to the exact same space year after year to take the exact same picture. There is something official about the start of a new gardening year that is noted by the taking of photographs of spring blooms. It’s a right of passage; an announcement that winter will soon pass and our hands will be in the warm soil once again.

Finally, a word on sleepless nights! Only gardeners will lose sleep in January and February, weeks before we can add new plants and start dividing perennials. We cannot help but think of new garden ideas, new gardens, what to move, what to keep, what to add and where to visit to get new ideas. Our thoughts are on gardens and gardens alone, especially in the quiet of the night when we really just want to sleep and get one day closer to the gardening season.