Separation Anxiety

It happens every year at this time. The bittersweet end of the growing season. The busy pace of getting garden chores done is mirrored only by that frenzy in spring. With a difference. While the spring is fueled by the eager anticipation of flowers in bloom, potagers burgeoning with produce and long days spent in the embrace of the sun, at this time, there is a distinct feeling of reluctance and longing.

Putting the garden to bed is itself quite satisfying. A parental gesture of safeguarding the garden so it gets through the long night of winter without incident. But, the heart is heavy as we brace ourselves for whatever the cold months portend. Anxiety surfaces as the shadows lengthen. As children of the sun, it is but natural to feel sad as we move farther from it. Forced to spend more time indoors, deprived of natural light and fresh air is a recipe for low spirits and gloomy temperament. Our transition from outside to in, is never easy. Separation of garden and gardener is sorrowful. But there is a silver lining to this icy, dark cloud. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

As a gardener, I’m nothing without hope. Optimism is my calling card. I’ve come to not only accept that winter must be got through but, I appreciate what it does. The entire cold season, as long as it is, is a period of grace for the garden and myself. It is when we can rest, restore and recuperate after three seasons of hard work. Now is the time to replenish ourselves. The breathing space.

While the garden is in deep slumber, I take my own rest of sorts. Turning my attention to tasks that were neglected in the whirlwind of garden chores, I catch up with paperwork, organizing the house and pursuing creative passions that often get short shrifted in the warm months. Books that begged to be read are now indulged. Conversations with friends and family assume a more relaxed, intimate nature. I use this luxury of time to get my house and myself in order. With the new year, my calender is laid out with not only garden chores but doctor’s appointments, concerts and plays, museum visits, vacation dates, birthdays and anniversaries. If it is on the calender, it stands a very good chance of getting done/celebrated. I even mark off space for all of my creative efforts which require proper time and attention. In essence, these winter months are given to ensuring that balance is maintained.

Cozy by the fireplace, I plan the garden of my dreams where no mistakes are ever made. Accidents are a non-occurrence, chores always get done on time and without undue effort and, the plants do exactly as I’ve intended. Naturally, this garden looks fabulous all the time. I design, draw lists, order what is needed and such preparation sustains me all through the winter. But even before this, the groundwork for my positive outlook is laid out in fall. When I plant hundreds of spring blooming bulbs, Each of these plump, brown packages is full of promise and reassurance. Insisting on enduring the absolute cold of winter, they say with unequivocal certainty that the time of sunshine and honeybees will return. All in its own time.

After this respite, both garden and gardener are ready, energized and looking forward. The sap is flowing and we start all over again.

Attitude is everything. Sleep garden sleep.

The side path in slumber.

The side path in slumber.


The path reawakened in early spring.

The path reawakened in early spring.


The herb and chekerboard gardens in winter

The herb and chekerboard gardens in winter


Early spring

Early spring


Spring in the 'meadow'.

Spring in the ‘meadow’.


Early daffodils

Early daffodils


F. meleagris

F. meleagris


Apple blossoms

Apple blossoms

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One thought on “Separation Anxiety

  1. This is one of your more beautiful columns. Almost like a horticultural lullaby. I will try to stop the winter’s-coming teeth-clenching and approach this season as a much needed rest for all.

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