Coffee with Warren: Dreaming of spring

Coffee with Warren: Dreaming of spring

These really cold winter days recently made my wife Mary Anna and me remember an essay she wrote about her love of gardening. But on reflection, I see an important lesson for life.

These really cold winter days recently made my wife Mary Anna and me remember an essay she wrote a few years ago on an equally cold day. It was based on her love of gardening. But on reflection, I see an important lesson for life.

MARY ANNA WROTE: Reader’s Digest used to have a feature called Picturesque language. One phrase they once had was “optimistic like a seed catalog.” I have often thought of this when a new seed catalog appears early in the new year. All the colorful flowers seem to smile away from the side and invite the gardener to try new varieties of lilies or roses to make your garden the envy of all your friends and neighbors.

Last night I was looking at a seed catalog as I sat in bed before going to sleep. The first half of the catalog contained page after page of delicious vegetables, followed by a section with some tools and garden decor. But I flipped past all that. I grew vegetables for many years, but now retired, I have chosen to focus on a park-like garden where we can sit in the swing and enjoy the summer.

Most of the flower leaves were of annuals, which only last for one season. The last few pages showed perennials. Already in place in my garden are perennial trees, shrubs and such plants as peonies, delphiniums, lilies, daisies and asters, which come up by themselves every spring. They provide permanent structure to the landscape and cut back on the work. Most perennials have their flowering moments every summer, which contributes with greenery and texture the rest of the time. I read the catalog for new ideas to fill spaces and give new shape in different areas.

Eventually I was looking for flowers that give color throughout the garden all summer long. I looked at possible combinations of petunias and geraniums for the flower pots along the walkway, varieties of alyssum to delineate the stone mound, millions of bells or bacopa for a hanging pot and sweet peas to climb up the fence.

Although I like to use the catalog for planning, in the end I will most likely go to the local greenhouse to get seedlings. I do not have space, especially with good lighting, in my house to start seedlings. I also buy a few plants at a time as my schedule and weather allow me to plant them. Some will wait until later in June when they go on sale. This is especially true for perennials that cost more than annuals. After all, they last much longer, at least if they can last our Alberta winters.

I close the seed catalog with visions of flowers dancing in my head, falling asleep and dreaming of spring in my garden …

Mary Anna Harbeck

YES, VISIONS ABOUT FLOWERS! Tthe hat is also very much my own experience, but not from a seed catalog. I find my inspiration by looking back at Mary Anna’s engaging images of her garden. But there is a lesson here for the new year for life, not just for gardening. In a sense, life itself is a garden. May your dreams for the new year flourish for you in hope and happiness.

© 2022 Warren Harbeck

JoinMe@coffeewithwarren.com

www.coffeewithwarren.com

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