January 2nd, 2008
Yesterday, on the first day of the year, my 10-year-old son, Alexander, asked me to tell him my New Year’s resolution. That he posed this question at about 8 a.m. while I was trying to grab a few more moments of a midwinter’s nap after a festive “eve” the night before was only slightly bothersome. His innocence and optimism in the power of a simple turn of the calendar’s page to a new month (and year) was endearing nonetheless.
I didn’t hesitate, but immediately told Alex: my resolution this year is to grow a garden.
It has been 16 months since we’ve been uprooted from our beloved Seattle garden (and home) and suddenly transplanted to Zone 10, Ventura County. We’re living not far off of a freeway exit, half-way between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. Like the results of a 4-inch perennial that’s been quickly planted in unprepped soil, we’ve experienced some “transplant shock,” so to speak.
Now is the time to begin transitioning from newcomers to neighbors. The change has begun, from discovering the local farmer’s market (thanks to my kind and generous neighbor, Alisa), to attending monthly Southern California Horticultural Society meetings where fellow plant-lovers welcome and include me, to hitting the road touring gardens, nurseries and other horticultural destinations with my Garden Writer pals like Nan, Joan and Paula. There is much here to admire, learn, embrace and even emulate in our suburban backyard.
So the process is underway. It requires a resolution of faith and optimism in order to put aside the “cherished familiar” and begin to look intentionally at the unfamiliar as my own new canvas. It begins with learning how plants grow and survive here in Southern California. Already our yard has begun its return to health because we cancelled the mow-and-blow-and-fertilize service the day we moved in. New layers of organic compost are continuing the process.
Lathyrus odoratus, Early Multiflora Blend and Bouquet Blend
I’m waiting for sweet peas that I planted six weeks ago to bloom and share their perfume (the seedlings are about 8-inches tall and promise to perform once the temperatures warm up). I’ve ordered way too many seeds and started to lay out the planting beds.
New Year, New Garden. It’s a hopeful time.