Thursday, January 6, 2011

Opening Thoughts

The Sunday Gardener is written for totally city-bound gardeners, as well as those able to get away for only a day or two at a time. It will show the reader that a good garden can be made anywhere.  In the city there are front and back yards, rooftops, window boxes, and containers set on nothing more than concrete passageways.  In the country garden the working palette is broader, and the light and air more abundant. 

Each has its own set of assets and liabilities, its particular requirements for soil, its limitations on construction, and its universe of plant materials.  In the city each leaf and blossom is important, while in the country the garden is more forgiving and the mistakes less noticeable.  In both settings, most of us have only the weekends in which to accomplish the seemingly endless round of tasks.


All gardens have a rhythm based on the seasons, and the year’s work takes place on an unvarying timetable.  The Sunday Gardener will appear weekly, laying out a calendar set in the framework of the gardeners’ year.  It will be a regular feature, appearing weekly during the growing season and monthly during the winter: The growing-season blogs will concentrate on timely work in the garden, while the winter blogs will focus on preparation and planning.  Many posts will feature local gardens and their gardeners. 

Of course, the label “Sunday Gardener” is a euphemism.  An undercurrent of garden thought runs continuously beneath most daily tasks.  On any given morning at 6 or 7 AM, you might find yourself outside in a robe and slippers, holding the morning coffee cup with one hand a running hose with the other, thinking about squeezing in just one more plant.   The scene will probably repeat itself after work, but you will be more appropriately clothed this time.  And like most passionate gardeners, commuting is spent either reading or musing about the garden, since most gardeners live in their imaginations, three to six months ahead of the calendar.  
 
I should state at the outset that I make a distinction between gardening and yard work.  I will not be writing about the perfect velvety lawn, or the endless spading, raking, grass cutting, and debris-collecting that any self-respecting home owner or tenant must complete.  Yard work is akin to an hour on a treadmill, while the gardener’s planting, weeding and watering occur in a dreamlike vision of the future. 

Just this week I was asked to take a look at a friend’s terrace.  A blank slate, 4 and 1/2 by 16 feet, some nice architectural detail, open to the sky, empty except for a pile of firewood big enough to see him through a long Russian winter.  If you are facing a similar unpromising setting, I hope that this blog will help you along the way.    

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