Planning Time

I’m thoroughly enjoying this protracted autumn. While concerned thoughts of global warming and memories of last winter come to mind, I’m nevertheless taking full advantage of these magnificent, sepia-hued days.

After months of giving us its all, the garden has slowed down and retired for a much deserved rest. Now is the time to envision our plans for the ‘perfect’ garden. This quiet period is exactly when we must do the hard work of planning, preparing and executing ideas and dreams. The fullness of spring and summer do not let this happen. If you have an image in your mind/phone/camera that depicts your version of paradise, then the moment is nigh to begin making it a reality. By the time winter is making an exit, your dream garden can be well on its way to becoming a reality.

With this intent, the old pergola is being replaced by a better, bigger and sturdier one. The two wisteria that ramble all over it can at this time be safely clipped and propped to remove the existing structure from under. The slate flooring below now has the four concrete foundations poured, set and waiting to support the posts of the cedar replacement.
Not only could this task not be done in the growing seasons, it would have been difficult to actually visualize the dimensions and design of the new pergola in the midst of so much growth.
Come spring, the wisteria should be able to resume its jolly habit of sprawling and wrapping itself all over. I fully expect to be thanked for their new accommodations with prolific blooms..

Even as the hedges, trees and grasses provide the ‘bones’ of the garden, the seed heads and waning foliage offer a visually textured feast that glows in the low autumn light. I see the ‘holes in the plantings and make notes. In the next few weeks, I will select appropriate additions for these areas. Just like the seedpods, our minds are full of promises to come.

On my walks in the woods, I observe trees and plants that trigger my acquisitive habit. I return to my garden to see clearly just where I might be able to introduce the coveted ones. Given that the garden is small and already intensely planted, only a few from my wish list will make it. But I’ll keep in mind the rest as they can be placed in other gardens.

The natural undulations of the land are visible now that vegetation is either cut down or removed. This permits me to see how the flow of rain water is guided and why certain plants did well and others did not. These same crests and dips dictate to the required height specifications when introducing plants to be a part of a natural grouping or meadow. For instance, a low growing plant set on a higher point will be visible and show itself at equal stature to a mid-height plant growing in an indentation. All planting does not require a flat surface.

Similarly, decisions on fences and hedges can be made in the clarity of a garden in hibernation. Style, height and function are made apparent. Let the earth speak to you.

In the process of noting, observing and planning for the garden, I find myself filling up on creative inspiration for new art and poetry as well. Nature has that knack. She will open your mind and expand your heart every time you spend time with her. And she will give you enough work to do for a lifetime.


1.For those of you following my work with the HIV/AIDS children, a new post has been added on the Lucky Ones page: the-van-den-bergs-visit-the-children-november-2015

2. Three opportunities to buy art and related products for the holidays:

I am participating in all three. Do come. Support the arts by giving art!

Enjoy the photos of late fall:











(c) 2015 Shobha Vanchiswar





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