Light and Weather


This isn’t my yard (unfortunately) ;). It’s a shot of Long Pasture Sanctuary, near by

Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Full Moon in Cancer
Rainy and cold

I’ve stood at the windows a lot during the past few weeks and watched the light change over the yard, both front and back. Ellen Dugan suggests this in her wonderful book GARDEN WITCH’S HERBAL. I haven’t yet made drawings, but that will come in February, when the light’s around longer.

I need to figure out where the different growing areas are in regards to light. The slightly raised vegetable bed created by the previous owner still gets sun almost all day, sometimes direct, sometimes less so, even with the trees that have grown in the 20+ years since the owner lived here. Light streams all morning into my writing room, at the front of the house, and it’s still very bright in the afternoon, even when the sun is more indirect. The lilacs and roses and forsythia will be happy about that.

Most of what I’ll do is container gardening, but there are in-ground bushes and plants already there which I’d prefer to steward than kill, so I have to learn about them and what they need. It seems the previous owner didn’t pay any attention; most of the plants were on their own and seemed to do pretty well, so I don’t want to fuss at them too much.

Part of the back is terraced. The rest is both rather pizza pie-shaped (as opposed to, say, apple pie-shaped) and what would be the crust edge slopes past the terraced area. There’s a line of trees at the far end of the property, and a blotch of what wants to be a wood at the point of the pie, sort of between the line of trees and the neighbor’s curved back of his property (yeah, I don’t quite get it, either).

I’m also learning just how dependent I am on the weather. In New York, the weather would be awful. The producers didn’t want to lose ticket sales or have to refund money, so we had to trudge through blizzards so “the show could go on.” Trust me, it’s not noble, it’s all about the money. People look at the weather report, add another scarf, hope the waterproofing on the boots holds up, go out in it, get stuck in it for hours or days, and can’t get to where they were supposed to be anyway.

It’s not that people are intimidated by weather on the Cape. But they respect it, which is a hugely different attitude than back in New York. In New York, weather is an obstacle; here, it’s a partner, and it’s the dominant partner in your life. You have to adjust what you do and how you do it according to the weather.

When a foot of snow is dumped on the area, people stay home (unless they’re in emergency response positions or plow drivers), schools are closed, and they let those responsible for clearing the streets and keeping things safe do so — without interference. When a bad weather report comes on, there’s no mad dash to the grocery store — people stock up throughout. There’s no sense of panic. They hope the power stays on, but have enough batteries, or maybe even a generator, just in case. They have electronics, but there are a stack of books on the table and those old games they inherited from their parents that usually only come out to entertain guests in the summer when it rains.

They get on with it, but don’t necessarily force their way through it.

It’s much healthier, all the way around.

I have to make another round trip to CT in the next few days. The reports of the next snowstorm change every few hours. Soon, I have to make a decision on how to avoid it, where the window will be that will let me slip through in the best conditions, so I’m not one of the morons who ignored the report and “didn’t think it would be that bad.”

I’m learning how to partner with the weather.

What I learn now will help me steward the property and my garden in the coming months.

Devon

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A Lot of Work Ahead of Me

Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Celtic Tree Month of Birch
Sunny and cold

I have a lot of decisions ahead of me. I have a reasonably large space in the front yard, and a quite large space in the back yard, and I have to decide what to do with them, come spring and summer.

I don’t own the place, so I’m limited in the amount of in-ground planting I can do; most of it will be container. There are some new bushes in the front, at least some of them azalea. There’s a rhododendron on the side of the house, some bushes that I hope are forsythia, a pair of oaks in front I’ve nicknamed “Gemini”, and oak, pine, and cedar in the back.

There’s a raised planting bed that was once used for vegetables; I’m watching the light move across it on sunny days, trying to figure out if I can use it as is, or if the trees around it have grown up so tall it won’t get enough light.

The front looks rather bare; the two small Alberta Spruces I bought to flank the door help, and I’ll probably leave them there until I get some planters with blooms in for spring. I’m tempted to put a stone bench in front of the oaks, and get a sundial for the front, along with arrangements of containers. It’s a reasonably safe neighborhood, but there’s still the worry that stuff left in the front could be stolen.

I want at least one gazing globe for the back, some statuary, an assortment of plants and, especially culinary and medicinal herbs. I also need patio furniture and a lawn mower, and it all needs to be done on a budget.

I’m not quite sure yet what I’ll do, and I know I won’t get it all right the first time. “Enchanted cottage garden” is pretty much my style, with one of two light touches for formal. I want it comfortable and interesting without looking too forced. Plus, I’ll make mistakes as I learn, and things will die or not look good and I’ll have to try something else.

And I’m on a budget.

So I’m reading everything I can get my hands on, trying to figure out what grows best here, what I can grow in containers, and keeping my eyes open on Craigslist and in the papers for sales, etc.

It’s a little intimidating, but it will also be fascinating to see how it evolves.

Devon