Picture this January

black and white and flamingoI used to enter art competitions occasionally. I never had any particular ambition when it came to my paintings but got a little thrill out of showing them – whenever the work was accepted. (More often than not, it got the big R – but when you paint tiny, quiet things you get used to them not catching the juror’s eye.) I think I must have a little more ambition when it comes to writing – or for whatever reason, I’d rather write if I think someone somewhere might read it. (Thanks, you guys!) But I’ve resisted entering the various interweb and garden blogger competitions because 1. I don’t think it’s appropriate to compete from my work blog (in a very sideways way I get paid for doing that blog) and 2. here at home, I generally just don’t care enough.

Until now. I’m entering my ‘black and white and flamingo’ picture (already shown in my last post) in Gardening Gone Wild’s Picture This photo contest. Not because I care about winning but because I think it fits their winter-y criteria so perfectly I’d be a stupid-head not to try. And secretly, I get a little thrill out of showing it off again.

— This is not my garden. I took it on a dog walk at Juniper Hill Cemetery. Just to the right of the shot were graves incongruously decorated with flags (else they would have been included).

The pile

compost piles and a treasureJust in time for the winter’s first snow, this lazy gardener finally cut back and raked and even weeded a tiny-tiny bit.  It’s embarrassing to think that this is what I enjoy doing for a living and my garden is, aside from a week or two in the summer, the neighborhood eyesore.  The front garden was all melted annuals, fallen perennial stalks, weeds and leaf drifts.  While I’m all for leaving the critters some hiding places, I managed to remove a double size wheelbarrow pile (why make two trips when you can balance an extra load on top?) and still left plenty of embarrassing critter cover.

In the back I finally cleaned up the Nicotine Patch – that’s what I like to call the small lasagna bed that Z and I made in the heat of summer as research for a PPP article.  I had planted a couple of tomatoes and a few other veg but it was the Nicotiana that dominated and melted Nicotiana stalks leaning on the grass that guilted me whenever I sat here and looked out the window.

I think the real reason I finally caved to neatness (relative neatness, that is) was that I was sick of hearing myself tell anyone who asked, that my garden was a disaster waiting for relief.  I like to think that it makes me sound busy and important to say I don’t have time or energy for my own garden. But really it just makes me sound like a dope in the wrong line of work.  I love my work and I love that I finally have my very own garden and it’s high time I get back out there. (now that it’s snowing I can say that and mean it all the while keeping my slippers on.)

Cryptomeria in living color - barely living.The other thing that will keep pulling me back into my own garden is plant lust.  This little tree was given to me last spring and I couldn’t decide where to plant it – it’s a Cryptomeria, maybe ‘Elegans’.  So I neglected it and was convinced that I’d killed it.  But when I started cleaning up a couple of months ago before the frost, I noticed that it had turned an alarming and beautiful shade of burgundy-purple- copper and I was compelled by amazement to not throw it out but to heal it in for the winter instead.  I still don’t know where to put it but if it’s going to be this color every fall/winter, I’m damn well going to plant it in some spot of honor first thing next spring.  And so, and so my garden will grow.  And hopefully I’ll keep wanting to work in it sometimes.

What gets you out into the garden when you’d rather keep your slippers on?

Dog walk photo of the week 12-2-08

It’s inevitable that if I go for a dog walk without my camera, there will be things that cry out for their picture to be taken.  The next walk then turns into a version of the Memory Game.  Where was the house with the front door decorated with an easter egg wreath and halloween stickers?  And I’m still trying to figure out where the “best house in Bristol” is.  I loved it for its windows and rabbit warren nooks and my memory has turned it into a place that I suppose doesn’t even exist anymore because I can’t find it.  But I was able to re-find the gnarliest tree I’ve ever seen without too much trouble . (I’m pretty sure it’s a linden.)

the gnarliest tree in Bristol

Do you ever forget where you left a landmark?