Through the Year

It's September, and the days are shorter, weather more moderate, and the harvest is winding down. It's time to think of the approaching autumn, and prepare for winter's blast. I still have lots to do in the garden, and try to fit in “putting up” some of summer's bounty before it's time to put the beds to sleep. One way to keep fresh herbs for winter use is to make herb pastes, and lay in a good store for use during the cold months.

 

Well, it's official. The weeds have won. I give up trying to maintain the beds. The front of the yard is fine, as I worked hard to keep up appearances. And the vegetables are OK, too. I just noticed a huge hornet's nest in the trellis that the honeysuckle is climbing. Thank goodness I didn't weed over there or no doubt I would have been stung. Fortunately, it is out of the way under the eave of the barn and did not interfere with the installation of the solar panels. I am patiently awaiting the OK to turn on the juice and collect all that sunshine!

July is the time that you really get to see the fruits of all your earlier work in the garden, literally as well as figuratively. Juicy fruits, from raspberries to mulberries to currants and gooseberries, are bursting with flavor and taste fantastic right off the stem, warmed by the sun. My farm, before I acquired it, had been repurposed as a small fruit farm, so I have several apple, pear, peach and cherry trees, to which I have added Asian pears, more heirloom apples, an apricot, and plums. Besides these more usual fruit trees, I have a Meader persimmon and a small grove of paw paws.

Well, again time has gotten away from me and I totally missed my May posting. Being involved in two plant sales, as well as growing out my herbs and heirlooms, and I just couldn't find the time to write. Both sales, The New England Unit of The Herb Society of America, and the Greenleaf Garden Club, were succesful. Thank goodness they were on different weekends!

There is nothing more satisfying to a gardener than the coming of good gardening weather. This year we have certainly earned our spring days, after all the crazy late snows and harsh weather. My spring bulbs were just starting to emerge, and now they are covered by a blanket of white. My father always said that a little snow was nature's fertilizer, and he never worried too much about a late dusting of the white stuff. But I am anxious to get out and get my hands dirty in the soil.

 

I've been reading a lot lately about the benefits of being outdoors. As a gardener and owner of a farm, I spend a portion of each day outside - whether I want to or not. The plants and animals need to be tended to, and so I bundle up in the winter and venture out. I am also inclined, in order to get some aerobic exercise, to walk in nearby woods, rather than on a treadmill or on the sidewalks down my street. During the time I spend outdoors, I find myself contemplating nature, organizing my thoughts and generally focusing on breathing in the greeness by which I find myself surrounded.

Coastal maine Botanic Garden

Throughout the centuries, man has looked to plants to cure what ails him, as well as to keep him hale and hearty. As far back as the Babylonians in 4000 BC and the Egyptians in 2000 BC, man has also been interested in retrieving vitality and rejuvenation, and turned to the plant kingdom to restore his youth, and sexual prowess. The search for aphrodisiacs - those agents which stimulate the sexual appetite - has included some exotic herbs, spices and foods that are supposed to restore vigor and increase libido.

Damiana - believed to increase sexual power

Another year to celebrate and begin anew. Janus, the Roman god, was depicted with two faces, one looking to the past, the other to the future. He is often thought of as marking transition, between seasons, years, and  other portals. It is fitting that our first month of our year be named for him. This is the time we look back over the past year, and also to the coming one, reflecting on our pluses and minuses, and hopes for a better year ahead. I like this poem from Thomas Hood -

And ye, who have met with Adversity's blast,

Holiday decorations are springing up everywhere. It seems that it begins earlier and earlier each year. Most of us take pleasure in decorating our homes, especially with wonderfully scented evergreens. In doing so, we are keeping alive ancient traditions and ensuring that only good spirits will share our space.

A tingling, misty marvel

   Blew hither in the night,

And now the little peach trees

   Are clasped in frozen light.

Upon the apple branches

   An icy film is caught,

With trailing threads of gossamer

   In pearly patterns wrought.

The autumn sun, in wonder,

   Is gayly peering through

This silver-tissued network

   Across the frosty blue.

The weather vane is fire-tipped,

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