Every spring I go through this crazy ritual.  I think my neighbors just expect to see me lying on the ground, scratching the surface of the newly thawed soil and taking pictures of what they may think is just dirt.  But as gardeners know it is so much more….you see we are waiting patiently (maybe) for the first sign of the green sprouts of crocus, dwarf Dutch iris, Snowdrops, Glory of the Snow or Winter Aconite to come shooting up through the soil.   We want to see that flower bud ready to unfurl against the stark grey, brown of the soil. The pictures here are of these wonderful early bloomers.

I also start to scan the surface of the pond as the weather warms for signs of the first frog to venture in and set up a home.  On this cold and snowy day in winter I am finding myself impatient, short tempered and a bit angry.  What in the world is going on with me?  As I delve in to examine these not so pleasant emotions it hits me.  I am in heavy garden withdrawal.  I need a fix and I need it bad.  I have come to rely on my garden as therapy, but it is a double edged sword because it is the thing I am addicted to that I need in my life to center me, to bring me joy…it is my bliss…

But alas the winter snow and frozen ground is here to stay for a couple more months at least.  I know this but it doesn’t help make the time move any faster to spring.  And really time is so precious that I don’t want it to fly by so I can get to spring.  This has become abundantly clear to me as I have reached my 50s.  So in the depths of this wintry day, what better time to join in the World Garden Blog Carnival hosted by my little Garden in Japan to think about my garden resolutions.

As a child, I loved the snow.  Loved to play in it.  Of course as a kid I could play in any weather and love it.  And maybe that is where I have lost my joy.  I find that my life has little time for play, but when I do play it is in the garden.  I lose myself completely to the soil and the trowel.  I dig for hours and feel no pain (until later).  I explore, watch and listen to the wonderful creatures that have taken up residence.  I taste the warm fruit and vegetables I have actually grown as I pick them from the garden.

So why don’t I have time to play?  I could blame it on adult responsibilities of work; obligations I have to fulfill, but really these are mere excuses, obstacles I have lain in my own path.  I had forgotten how to play and have fun even in the garden. I discovered this fact last summer.  So I spent all my time outdoors during the summer and early fall doing the things I loved.  But now with the winter, it is easy to closet myself indoors.  I invent the obstacles-it’s cold, it’s snowing too hard, it’s dark (well that one is real and on my dark street makes it unsafe).

So how do I re-energize myself?  How do I motivate myself to play again with childlike abandon and fight against the obstacles of weather and time?

I go back to the soil in winter, the soil inside.  I grew seeds indoors last winter and although I had success at first, mine fell victim to “spindly syndrome”-as I call it.  They were long and thin of stem and short on leaves.  So this winter, I have decided to buy myself a Grow Light.  I researched the type I wanted.  It had to be table top with T-5 fluorescent bulbs (these are rated the best for indoor grow lights).  It has “two high-efficiency T-5 fluorescent bulbs to produce more bright, full-spectrum light than old-style fluorescents, yet use 20% less electricity….uses less electricity than a 50 watt bulb..”

It has arrived and I plan to soon to grow some herbs and greens such as lettuce indoors.  I have the soil, seed, heat mat and now the light.  This experiment will allow me to see how to adjust the elements I need when I start my other seeds for the garden in February.  I plan to keep a journal and take pictures to let you know how it goes.

And I must get outside, even at work if it is for a few minutes at a time.  To change the scenery and breath in fresh air.  I am taking my camera to work.  The school where the District Office is housed has lovely woods in among the houses in this small city.  Perfect for lovely winter shots.  No excuses….time to fight against any obstacles real or imaginary…time to go play and enjoy myself each day just a little…

Oh and as for the rest of the garden resolutions this coming year….well we have expanded the veggie garden and we plan to plant veggies among the rest of the garden.  We are planning another rain garden to help with run off and a small cutting garden in a raised bed made from a reclaimed pond…think that should hold me!!

Plant the seed of desire in your mind and it forms a nucleus with power to attract to itself everything needed for its fulfillment. ~ Robert Collier

52 Replies to “Obstacle”

  1. I look forward to watching you grow your seeds, I am started my seeds and some have already germimation. Time will be soon and have fun. We are cold and snowy in Iowa but I try and find something good about it, not always easy however.. take care .

  2. I too have talked on my blog about accessing child like nature and learning to play again. You wrote this so well. It just is a matter of how you approach a project, have a little childlike glee and all of a sudden it is no longer work.

    1. Donna you just reminded me of something I remember from Mary Poppins one of my fav movies of all time…the key is doing something with that glee and I will endeavor to keep that thought close…thx for your kind words and visiting…

  3. Great advice. Because if you forget how to play, and what brings us joy our lives go dark. This year a little grow lamp, perhaps another year a green house!

    1. thx for visiting…I am hoping to expand into the basement with a whole rack…not sure I want to obscure my view with a green house but as we say in NY…”You never know” 🙂

  4. Hi there Donna
    You had me giggling with the picture of laying on the hard cold ground scratching the dirt looking for the little green life forms to come in the Spring : )
    I am so like that too . it is sad how excited I get when I see those first signs of life.
    I admire your tenacity to try the seed thing out .. I am a dismal failure with seeds (some times even the direct sow seeds hate me too) .. but the satisfaction of seeing life burst forth .. well that has to make you smile inside and out !
    Thanks for the giggle this morning !
    Joy : )

    1. Joy you are welcome…I even laugh at myself when the ritual begins…we shall see if the seeds will perform…being the scientist mind that I am I will have to read a bit more to make sure I get it right…I had about an 70% germination rate outside…hoping I fare better this year…:)

  5. Play is important no matter our age~Sometime we forget to laugh and have fun as we go about our busy lives. The garden helps me be in touch with the little kid again. Good luck seed starting! I am a scatterer and if they germinate I think myself very lucky! gail

  6. Wonderful post Donna! It is important to play . . . I am like you and must reclaim that playful spirit! I love the quote and it says it all! Best of luck to you in your indoor growing! Lovely photos and they make me long for Spring but as you say . . . with all the cold and snow . . . I will simply find ways to love the moment.

    1. thx Carol…I will be starting soon and hope to post my successes and failures…some how though even the failures are sweet when we can garden

  7. Gardening is therapy for me, also. Fortunately our winters are very short. Otherwise, I might be fighting depression (seasonal affective disorder!) and I might be getting some grow lights of my own. Good luck with your indoor gardening!

  8. good luck with your plans for your front garden, the curved path and picket fence will give good structure for your plants, have fun with your indoor growing, I love the idea of garden playtime enjoy yours, Frances

      1. no apologies necessary Frances…I have winding paths and plan to plant beans against my fence…you were just reading my mind 🙂

  9. Very nice thoughts! One must never forget to play
    Those are great projects for the year. I have also had some troubles with little seedlings grown indoors. I always forget to take them out or get them in and they dont get enough sun in the end. I should consider getting myself some grow lights but maybe when I have more space.
    Wish you the best for the starting year!

  10. Many posts we read are enjoyable but Donna this was captivating. I too had to smile at the thought of neighbours watching while you photograph. I don’t mind doing this in the back garden as we are not overlooked, but I did find myself saying to my wife in Summer, will you take a photo of the Phlox in the front garden, (you can take it yourself) but you take better close ups than I do.

    1. thank you Alistair…I had fun writing this because I often wonder how my neighbors will view my crazy antics…and the dirty face under the big floppy garden hat that greets them 🙂

  11. My daughter suggested your blog to me. She’s the office manager at Back in Touch. She knew I’d enjoy your writing…she was right. I’m not an avid gardener, though I do love a beautiful garden. I hope to learn a few things from you. Already you have mentioned a few types of gardens and flowers unfamiliar to me…heading to Google right now!

  12. Donna, I can relate completely to how you feel in the winter when you can’t garden. For the last few years I think this feeling has been on the verge of true depression for me. But this year, I started my blog, and I am leaping out of bed this winter anxious to write, something I love and which the blog gives me permission to do. What is writing but playing with words? My interactions with the garden blogging community are also uplifting because another thing I miss in the winter is talking to my nursery customers and friends about plants. Just an idea, but maybe you should get a grow light for yourself too.

  13. I think that’s why I enjoy living here. Not just because our winters are short, but because here I can flip over logs and rocks, and find slithering and wriggling creatures beneath, get distracted by a beautiful mushroom, the flit of a bird wing, or chase a butterfly all over the orchard in a vain attempt to figure out what it is. There are some days I (almost) feel like I’m six again. Gardening is really fun again…except I get easily distracted, and sometimes the digging goes a little slowly 😉 Have fun with your new grow lights, and I hope you get outside, at least a little, on the warmer winter days.

    1. thx for visiting and commenting…I also get so distracted watching wildlife and wandering around the gardent hat the digging is slow 🙂

  14. I agree with you, I also have forgotten how to play…
    Btw: I really love your blue, short Iris, I’had never seen them before.

    1. the irises are dwarf dutch irises…also known as Iris reticulata…here’s hoping we are able to find that play again!!

  15. Sounds like you need to move to Austin. Our cold weather does not last long. However, sometimes I still get the winter blahs…:/ when I can’t go outside and garden and have fun.
    Sounds like you are going to have quite a set up for growing seeds. I think we all need to play more in life, too.

  16. Hi Donna, you are so right, we need to allow winter to be winter, and not make ourselves miserable waiting for Spring! Remembering to play is really important too, so easy to lose hold of. I love the idea of you going out with your camera, I always feel better for being outside even at this time of year, and your grow light should give you great scope for satisfying the desire to see new life. Enjoy! Look forward to seeing your cutting garden develop, I am planning one up at the allotment, we can swap notes and ideas!

  17. Janet thx so much for your encouragement…love to swap ideas etc for a cutting garden…I hope to design a large one for a local Cafe as part of my new design business…definitely will send you links etc that I have found useful

  18. Hi Donna, I can understand your sentiments. To me, the garden reflects my frame of mind- when I’m happy and at peace, my garden is beautiful and well-tended. The reverse is also true when the garden is blooming, I’m happy. I can imagine how I would feel if we had winter here, and there’s that void in the garden!

    1. Rosie thx so much for stopping by…I live through blogs like yours…such beautiful pictures keep me sustained through this white time in my garden 🙂

  19. Great garden plans — I think grow lights make a world of difference! Your “spindly syndrome” is incredibly discouraging so I’m impressed you’re making a new attempt at home seed starting.

    I wanted to invite you to submit an article for the next issue of How to Find Great Plants. It’s slightly different than other memes and blog carnivals, here’s how to participate:


    If you don’t have time to write a new post you can submit one you’ve already written (such as your recent clematis one).

    1. definitely not a quitter when it comes to the garden but we will see how it goes….I would be honored to participate in the meme… 🙂

  20. Winter is spent with books and magazines in hand, I read and read anything garden. That’s how I manage. But then I must be of a different nature to you as I do enjoy the time away from the garden, and then again I am so happy when spring comes.

    1. You are right we all need time away from the garden but just not this long…I need to be in the garden even if just to be ..not necessarily to work it but to enjoy it and for my sanity!! The waiting makes the coming of spring sweeter..

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