Work while the world slows down
Posted: Tuesday, January 6, 2009 9:11 pm
By: By JIMMY WILLIAMS Special to The Messenger
Hope springs eternal. Well, at least it used to.
Constant and unrelenting disappointment and discouragement have a way of melting down formerly fervent hope in the hearts of gardeners. And those last two growing — correction, merely existing — seasons have done their best to squelch all our hopes.
We’ve suffered through two straight seasons of abject discouragement, and here in mid-winter, when those who know say depression is at its most prevalent of the year anyway, it is difficult to see through rose-colored glasses.
But we’ll try. Just think: Whatever shrub or tree that managed to live through the past two years has a leg up on new droughts (Heaven forbid) down the road. Their roots have been laboriously questing deeper and further afield in search of water purchase to the point some of them will better stand more stress in the future.
Then, too, we have had valuable, though painful, lessons on what plants will take drought and what won’t. Might as well concentrate on the former with new plantings, but it sure is painful to be without old favorites whose sole frailty is inability to stand dryness at the root. Nobody I know wants to garden with prickly pear cacti and yuccas.
Garden writers often belabor the joys of snuggling in front of a roaring hearth fire in cold January and perusing the new seed and plant catalogs. There is some value in getting that out of the way when the weather is bad. I can’t sit still long enough to do much of it when I have dead trees all over the place that need cutting into firewood, some beds and borders yet holding to exhausted top-hamper that must be cut away, top-dressing that follows that cleanup, leaves yet to be dealt with and on ad infinitum.
Every day that has any modicum of livable weather should be utilized for tasks that have a way of compounding as they go undone. You might lull yourself into the false impression that spring is weeks away and so there is plenty of time to get such-and-such done. You will be blown out of that mindset when spring bursts on the scene about 20 minutes from now, or so it will seem.
We could see some intrepid snowdrop or crocus peek through any time the temperature moderates only marginally, or we could stay in a deepfreeze for weeks to go. That is the nature of the weather beast in the midsouth.
From Poor Willie’s Almanack — Make hay when the sun shines ... or when it doesn’t.
Editor’s note: Jimmy Williams is production superintendent at The Paris Post-Intelligencer, where he also writes this column.
Published in The Messenger 1.6.09
Jimmy Williams, The Garden Path