Returning to the Gardens


The middle of December I had made my way along the Haney Hillside. I raked and hauled and did the last of my fall primping before heading back to the barn. I parked my cart and put way all my tools. I shut down my computer and cleaned up my space. With a few hugs and farewells, I left the Gardens for my winter break; knowing that spring was months away, I filled my mind with plans for my winter vacation.

Hanging up the gardening tools for the winter

Winter hit hard and I almost forgot what my world looked like without a covering of white. I shoveled and carried firewood. I played with the dogs and ventured into a new business. I cursed the cold and then relished it when my skates hit the pond and I lost myself in the wonder of a seemingly endless journey around the pond. I found some time for projects and did what I could around the comfort of the wood-stove.

February blew in and I found myself swirling with the arrival of seed catalogs. I rushed to the mailbox and like a child at Christmas, felt giddy with the excitement of what was between those colorful pages. I poured myself a cup of coffee and settled upon the couch. With catalogs on my lap, I soon drifted to another place where sunshine touched my face and the aroma of freshly tilled soil filled my nostrils.

Not long after the rush of catalogs, came my first arrival of seeds. I was ecstatic, like the arrival of the first child. With shaking fingers I opened the box. I hesitated, should I rush in, or savor the moment? Do I dump them all out at once, or take them one by one and stretch the pleasure out? I dumped. I was all but drooling as I spread the packets out on the dining room table. I lined them up. I smiled at the choices I had made. I picked them up, one at a time and read them and felt pride in what each one could become.

It was hard to handle the storms that came after that. I tried to focus and not get ahead of myself, but thoughts of planting, of growing, of the feel of fresh earth between my fingers haunted my every moment. I dug deeper into my projects around the house, but couldn’t stop my mind from wandering. Like a baby learning to color, I could not stay within the lines. My focus drifted in and out. It was wearing me down. I had to succumb. I started my first flats of seeds.

A bag of potting soil isn’t the same as a newly tilled garden, but it was as close as I could get at the end of February. It eased the pain of this garden junkie. It soothed my nerves and gave me the chance to focus on the last of winter. It helped to keep me in check until I found my way back to the Gardens.

It is the middle of March and I am back. The Haney Hillside is buried deep in winter still. I walked atop the snow, and ventured to the bottom and to the Meditation Garden. The sounds of spring were still quieted by the silence of winter. The stones appeared as souls in waiting. I stood and closed my eyes. I am back I said. Somewhere in the last of the winter wind, I heard it. Welcome, it said.

– Patty Robbins, Horticulturist