I love weeds! (or, I find them to be highly tolerable)

This may seem odd to you, whatever your current level of gardening enthusiasm, but I love pulling weeds. Sometimes it takes me a little while to get myself into the proper mindset for the task since weeding seems to have a very negative reputation in our society. Once, many years ago, when I was working at a small local nursery during the summer, I had misbehaved in some way and was sent off to a remote location to pull weeds by myself. I loved it!

We have had one of our unusually nice, dryer springs this year which has given me more opportunities to spend time in the garden, and the motivation keep the weeds under control. As you may recall, last year I spread a healthy layer of yard-debris compost over my garden beds as a mulch. It may have had some effect on the number of weeds that I have been pulling this year, but since weed seed blows in from all around the area, more than enough weeds were able to germinate in that nice mulch and keep me busy.

The late spring garden all cleaned up!

One of the reasons I love weeding has to do with that layer of compost mulch. I like to either use a garden fork or trowel when removing weeds so that I can remove the roots along with the green leafy material. In doing so, I am aerating the soil and allowing the compost to drop down into the cracks and crevices. If I find the soil to be particularly cloddy, I’ll use the tool at hand to break up the clods and mix the compost in a bit and then smooth the area over, leaving little visual sign of my activity.

Many people find this process to be slow and monotonous, but I have found that I actually enjoy this excuse to slow down from the fast pace of my busy life. I may do some of my best  thinking while down on my hands and knees, digging in the soil. Viewing the garden from this lower perspective seems to stimulate my imagination and I allow my mind to drift off into all kinds of adventures while my hands are digging and pulling and mixing  and smoothing. I was actually a little disappointed the other day when my wife and I realized we had finished all the weeding. Fortunately, there are plenty of weed seeds to go around, and I expect more will find their way to my garden before too long.

Being on the ground also puts me in a good perspective to view and evaluate the overall health of my garden. While I am down close to my plants, I take time to inspect for any insect or disease problems. Pulling weeds is part of creating and maintaining a healthy garden. A good healthy garden requires good healthy soil — and soil that drains well, retains moisture and has a lot of organic matter is great for growing conifers and other exciting plants.

Conifer Lover

Hoping for a very happy Thanksgiving

I love the vintage look of this special poster created by artist, Tom Whalen.

I am so thankful for the friends and family that my wife and I have enjoyed over the years. Though friends and family do come and go over a lifetime, it is the special memories that we carry of them that can bring us times of happiness when we can no longer be near.

One thing that always seems to bring back many happy memories of family events, from times long ago and family members many years past, is the T.V. holiday special, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. It seems that one way or another, this special found its way to be on the T.V. during the holiday weekend. It’s interesting how something as silly as an animated feature based on a comic strip can conjure so many happy memories.

I hope that you and your family will be creating many happy memories this holiday season!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Conifer Lover

Have I mentioned…?

Have I mentioned recently that I love gardening? I love getting out in the garden and on my hands and knees digging in the soil. Admittedly, the getting back up part is not as easy as it used to be, but while I’m down there, with plants of varying shapes and sizes and colors and textures and scents all around me, my hands in the soil feeling that warm, moist, crumbly stuff that harbors millions of microscopic critters going about their business giving the soil life – and creating nutritious conditions for my plants – is simply exhilarating!

One recent sunny morning I woke up early and full of energy so I thought it would be a great time to enjoy my morning tea out in the conifer garden. The morning was quiet, the sun had just risen high enough to begin to shine its life-giving rays through the filter of many Douglas fir branches causing patterns of light and shadow across the garden. It was a very quiet time, the morning songbirds had completed their job of announcing the day and the squirrels hadn’t begun to attend to their daily affairs of collecting food or planting crops for the future. There was just me and the occasional far-off sound of a dog barking and the rumble of a car or two.

Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Chirimen'
Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Chirimen’ is an excellent dwarf conifer with tiny, coarse textured foliage and a sculptural form that reminds me of something we might find under the sea.

I sipped my tea as I strolled quietly through the garden while I listened to the quiet and breathed in the fresh scent of the new day. Noticing a few weeds near the birdbath, I kneeled to remove them, and before long I was contentedly pulling weeds, pinching the soft and sweetly scented new growth of one of my lavender plants and marveling at the tiny, scale-like, coarsely textured foliage of my Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Chirimen’. Finishing my cup of tea, I moved myself into a sunny patch of the small area of lawn and laid back, looking up into the sky and the taller trees, just enjoying the peace and quiet of this most magnificent morning.

What I didn’t know is that my wife had not remained in bed long after I arose. By this time she had prepared her coffee and was sitting with the cat near one of our windows which overlook the garden. Apparently, she had spotted me sprawled out on the ground, and thinking the worst she came bounding out of the house and ran screaming toward me. Of course this startled me and I jumped to my feet (well, you might imagine that my definition of jumping to my feet is something more like a strenuous series of maneuvers to get myself upright) just about the time she made it to my location.

Now, I shouldn’t complain since once I was upright and she was near we exchanged a rather warm and refreshing embrace. She, of course, had presumed that I had had a heart attack or – well, who knows what. I reassured her that all was well as we strolled back to the house still holding one another close.

Yes, I love gardening, and what I discovered that day, was that gardening can lead to other enjoyable activities.

Conifer Lover

The colors of peace and harmony

I’ve been thinking about colors in nature and how color has an effect on the human psyche or spirit. Two of the most prominent colors found in our natural world are blue and green. For most of the day, when the sky is clear, it is a vast ever-changing gradient of blues. Then, when we are able to remove ourselves from the confines of large buildings, we can be surrounded by green. From large forest trees towering overhead to small blades of grass, at least for part of the year, we can be engulfed in a world of blue and green hues.

I’ve noticed that I feel much better when the sky is clear and blue and I am surrounded by plants. I began to wonder if color itself may have anything to do with those feelings of peace, harmony, kindness, etc. so I decided to see what I could find online. Sure enough, there is quite an abundance of information that suggests the colors we perceive have an effect on our overall health and mood.

It turns out that blue and green are rather healing in their nature. Green is said to support balance, harmony, love, and acceptance while blue increases a sense of calmness, love, peace, honesty, and devotion.

Abies procera ‘Glauca’ (Prostrate Form) not only makes a stunning statement in the garden, but may also provide a sense of peace and love.

No wonder I love conifers!

Our amazing world of conifers is made up of year-round therapeutic color. From the wide range of green tones through the vast assortment of blues, conifers could single-handedly transform your garden into a private wellness center. Even in the dead of winter, when the blue sky is often blocked from view by a thick layer of clouds and other plant life has dropped its foliage or withered away until spring, the conifer garden can provide a sense of well-being and inner peace.

When spring does arrive, the color of the conifers is renewed as fresh new foliage appears. Plus, with the addition of the yellows, orange, violet and red of various deciduous trees and flowers, the garden can inspire fun, humor, creativity, optimism, enthusiasm, imagination, intuition, vitality, stamina and passion!

No wonder I love gardening!

One really great conifer with a stunning blue color is Abies procera ‘Glauca’ (Prostrate Form). This is one bright blue conifer – it is a real stand-out in the garden. Plus, it tends to be a low spreading form that can cover a wide horizontal space. Probably not a true prostrate form, ‘Glauca’ does like to send up the occasional upward growing branch which can be easily removed to encourage its flat form. If an irregular, sculptural form is desired, one might choose to allow one or two of these upright stems to grow, but keep a close watch because in time those small upright stems could become dominant and revert the form of your low spreader into a large upright tree. Either way, the color will remain an extraordinary blue.

Until next time, may your garden be a tranquil respite from the stresses of 21st century life.

Conifer Lover

See you next year!

Just quick note to wish you all a Happy and Joy-filled Christmas Holiday Season! Pop on over to the Facebook page and say “Hi” to one another there until I return!

See you in 2011!

Conifer Lover