February Dreams

Did January just breeze by? It’s hard to believe we are already a month into what still feels like the new year. I can sense the collective restlessness of gardeners in the northeast. We’re chomping at the bit for spring preparations. But, the shortest month can feel like the longest. It’s usually when winter decides to do her worst. This year however, we might actually welcome a decent dose of snow and sleet. Thus far, we have had almost no snow to speak of. Even the temperature hasn’t dipped sufficiently or long enough into its typical range. Makes one deeply uneasy. Who knows what this will mean for the seasons ahead. Its anyone’s guess really.

But we gardeners are eternal optimists. We plan for the best. Familiar as we are to the vagaries of Mother Nature and horticultural setbacks, we persist in dreaming and striving for the most positive outcomes. There is simply no other way. And so, we spend February conjuring up the most perfect garden yet. As yet too early to start any real work but for some late winter pruning, this is the time to solidify all those random ideas and visions. Gather up information, draw up plans, create a master to-do list, place orders for seeds and plants, get all tools and materials ready, schedule any hardscaping work – it’s all about getting ready.

I personally appreciate that February makes it impossible to actually do anything but plan and prepare. Otherwise, we’d plunge into action willy-nilly and let the garden get out of hand. I speak from experience. My early days in the garden were fraught with misguided eagerness and expenses. Impulsive actions resulting in expensive mistakes. It’s not just about money spent but also the time and effort wasted.

Taking this month to organize will make the work ahead that much more enjoyable and productive. It has taught me to be a smarter gardener.

The hyacinths have been removed from the refrigerator and placed in their pretty glass forcers. It keeps the momentum of spring dreams going.

Things To Do In February

(Much of the items in the January list are applicable here. Do check that list as well) 

  1. Stay on top of effects of snow and storms. Take quick action.

  2. Keep bird feeders full. Whenever possible provide water.

  3. Get garden plans and designs ready.

  4. Check garden supplies. Does the hose need repair or replacing? Is there enough soil, organic fertilizer, twine, stakes etc.,? Make a list and do what is needed.

  5. Towards the end of the month, prune roses, wisteria, grape vines and fruit trees.

  6. Cut back ivy on walls and fences before birds start nesting. Brightly colored stems of Salix and Cornus should be cut back to about 6 to 10 inches from ground. This will encourage brighter color next spring.

  7. Prepare for seed sowing. Get seed flats clean and ready. Check if there’s enough seed growing medium.

  8. Order seeds. Once seeds arrive, write labels and clip to each pocket. This saves time later when there is so much else to do.

  9. If there is not much snow, cut back old leaves on Hellebores. New growth and flowers will be emerging. Cut back other perennials that were skipped in autumn.

  10. Attend to indoor plants.

  11. The New York Botanical Garden’s annual orchid show opens in March. Do reserve your tickets and go! It’ll banish winter blues and get you inspired.

  12. Renew ( or join) your membership to the Garden Conservancy. Place your order for the Open Days directory. Once you receive it you can start scheduling visits to beautiful gardens near and far. Inspiration is only a garden visit away!

Note: The art exhibit at the The View is still on. Do take a look if possible!

Some images of spring to get you dreaming –

(c) 2023 Shobha Vanchiswar

 

Keeping Calm And Carrying On

January is a great time to catch up on that pile of books and magazines that go neglected when one is busy in the garden. I invariably have a clutch of garden magazines to peruse and because their corresponding month(s) have already passed, I generally take note of plants and advice to implement for next year. A sort of rough list of long term to-do items to consider when I finally make my grand plans and preparations for the gardening seasons to come. This is a pastime I really look forward to – it’s an activity filled with possibilities and dreams. So, there I am eager to take my time to reflect and regroup as mentioned last week when I’m rudely sent into panic mode – I’m way behind on schedule! My garden is simply not ready!

I’d observed that this January, my pile of magazines was kind of small as all of last year, I’d been fairly good about reading the periodicals soon after they arrived in the mail. Settling down to enjoy this modest stack, I quickly found myself drooling over images of swathes of snowdrops blanketing countryside gardens, bouquets worth of hellebores blooming in gardens small and large, pansies bravely showing their faces above snow laced earth and other plants stretching awake. All happening in real time. Looking around my own plot, I gazed upon a garden in hibernation. Like the night before Christmas, nothing was stirring. How could this be?!

I had yet to prune the grapevine and roses. For goodness sake, the holiday decorations had only been recently removed. How then could there possibly be signs of spring awakening? Scrolling quickly through Instagram, I came upon post after post depicting the same early spring flowers perking up gardens. Some even had daffodils ready to unfurl bright yellow petals. I could feel the growing pit in my stomach. And then, it hit me – I’d become so absorbed in my reading and salivating, that it’d completely escaped my mind that I was following/reading what was happening in England. Whew! What a big relief.

With milder winters than ours in the northeast, the UK enjoys winter blooms that we typically associate with early spring. However, even for them this is a bit earlier than usual to see daffodils readying to bloom. They too have had an odd winter thus far. From too cold to crazy rain the weather has been capricious. It has me wondering how our own strange winter to date will impact the seasons ahead. Will spring be early? I hope not! Anticipating it is a giddy thrill I do not want abbreviated. Besides, past experience has shown an early start generally means a short spring with summer arriving all too soon dragging with it deplorable heat and humidity. I hate that. I could live with spring forever.

But, this is conjecture. I cannot worry about what I cannot control. Time will reveal what is to be. For now, I’m just going to revel in the doings in England and dream about my spring garden to come. I’ll keep calm and carry on. Stiff upper lip and all that.

Note: Since we’re in dream mode, I’m sharing images of some of my watercolors instead of garden photos –

(c) 2023 Shobha Vanchiswar

Resting Point

With the holiday hoopla well behind, this moment feels like a resting point. The well-deserved pause before life picks up pace. Taking my cue from the garden, it’s a recess I’ve learned to carve out judiciously.

Looking around, the garden is quietly at repose. Nothing actively going on. Below ground, the plants are building strength, restoring, resting and preparing for the growing season ahead. Ii is not a period of complete cessation of activity but instead, it’s a time to slow down, regroup and ready oneself. I too want to take time to restore my energy, reflect on what and how I want to proceed with my goals and projects. It’s not a vacation but a retreat.

The expression ‘putting the garden to bed’ is accurate. The basic life processes carry on but nothing more is expected or conducted. It’s a graceful reminder to do similarly for myself. Instead of plunging into the to-do list, I’m reassessing that list. What really needs doing? Are they taking me where I want to go? Time taken to reflect and rethink is necessary to become a better gardener/artist/writer/friend/spouse/parent/activist/human being. Like the garden, my growth never ceases. The benefits of resilience, flexibility, patience, adaptability and cooperation are exemplified by Nature. And then, at the right moment, the courage to go all out and bloom as loudly as possible! That’s what I aspire to.

Being busy is not bad. Being mindlessly occupied is. So, if you see me sitting around and not rushing around with a jam-packed schedule, I’m not being lazy! I’m purging projects and objects that do not serve my goals. I’m thinking and planning, researching and evaluating, learning and preparing, simplifying and streamlining. I’m focusing on what truly matters.

Because, just like my garden, I’m a work in progress.

The garden right now –

Chickadee at the birdbath

Second round of amaryllis coming up indoors

(c) 2023 Shobha Vanchiswar

A Fresh Start

Happy New Year!

It’s been an unseasonably mild start here. Feels more like Spring than Winter. Parts of Europe are experiencing the same balmy weather. Who knows what this portends in the big climate scenario. It is cause to feel concerned but the reality is that unless and until every one of use and all the governments in the world commit wholly to do everything in our power to do right by the earth, matters will not improve. On my part, I will continue to do my best to work in harmony with nature. Meanwhile, I shall make the most of the very pleasant weather – enjoy long walks, meals out on the terrace, linger in the garden and watch the birds, soak up sunshine and take pleasure in being jacket, hat and gloves free. I anticipate ( fervently hope) the temperatures will drop to normal levels soon enough. My garden depends on that!

It behooves us all to pay mind to these shifts in weather patterns. Our future well being depends on it.

There are to-do items to address nevertheless. And I’m getting on them.

Things To Do In January

Survey the garden after every storm or snowfall. If any damage such as broken branches or torn off protection has occurred, try to fix it as soon as possible. Likewise, large icicles hanging from roof edges pose a threat to plants below: shield the plants if the icicles cannot be removed.

  1. Take down holiday decorations. Before disposing off the Christmas tree, cut branches to spread as mulch on flower beds. I add the chopped up tree to the compost heap. Some towns pick up trees left out and chip them up to use as mulch.

  2. Keep bird feeders full. Whenever possible, keep water available for the birds.

  3. Inspect stored tubers, corms and bulbs for signs of mold and rot. Get rid of any that don’t look healthy.

  4. This is a good time to examine the ‘bones’ of the garden. Make notes of what needs developing, changing or improving.

  5. Make icy paths safe by sprinkling sand or grit. Avoid toxic de-icing products.

  6. If ground is wet/soggy, take care to protect the sodden areas by not walking on it too much. Better yet, protect it by putting down a temporary path of wood planks.

  7. Take an inventory of garden tools. Get them repaired, replaced or sharpened.

  8. Gather up seed and plant catalogs. Start planning for the coming season.

  9. Begin forcing the bulbs kept cool since late fall. Time to start an indoor spring!

  10. Keep an eye on indoor plants ( in the house or greenhouse). Inspect carefully for signs of pests or disease. Act right away if either is detected. Organic practices only please.

  11. Still on indoor plants: water as needed, rotate for uniform light exposure, fertilize every two to four weeks. Remove dead or yellowing leaves.

  12. Enjoy the respite offered by this cold month.

Together, lets make this a meaningful, mindful year.

Note: Some memories from 2022 –

(c) 2023 Shobha Vanchiswar

Let There Be Light. And Kindness.

It’s the Winter Solstice today. The shortest day and longest night. As one who is quite affected by the dark days of winter, I think a lot about light – seeking it, creating it and how to cope with the lack of it. As every gardener knows, sunlight determines much of how we design our gardens. What plants we choose, where we place our selections, our own seating locations to best enjoy both plants and sunlight. A great garden strikes a definitive balance of light and shade.

For me personally, with the shrinking of the hours of light comes the demons both real and imagined. So I’ve developed coping skills that help manage them. In the spectrum of how much one is impacted seasonally, I realize I’m lucky enough to just be moderately affected where it can still be managed without medication. I get outside daily to soak up as much light as possible and try to complete all relevant tasks (indoors and out) well before it starts getting dark. Accomplishing the chores is certainly a mood lifter. The dark hours are filled with lights of all sorts burning bright. Candles, electric bulbs, fireplaces work in unison to dispel the darkness. Music, flowers, humor and light reads too, Good company breaking bread together is an elixir for the spirit. I’m immensely grateful for it all. Admittedly, it takes conscious and consistent effort. But it’s the only way forward.

My heart goes out to everyone whose struggle is so much harder. The pain is real and much of the time it is invisible. It helps to remind ourselves to be particularly kind and caring to each other at this time of year.

The fact that following this solstice, each day brings an additional minute of light is psychologically comforting. One can quite literally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Hallelujah.

Dark And Light

The light of day

sparkles honest

Cobwebs shimmer

rewards promised

Hope soars

confidence shines

Courage accompanies

mountains to climb

Sunrises occasion

plans anew

Clarity surfaces

Beliefs ring true

Nightfall arrives

slow and sure

Shadows lurk

luring fear

Darkness imposes

time to remember

Review, regret

call to surrender

Sunsets precede

hidden dreads

Anxiety reigns

awake in bed

Reality lies

in plain sight

there’s nothing in the dark

that’s not there in the light.

Shobha Vanchiswar

It’s no coincidence that all the celebrations this month involve lighting up our spaces- not to mention the Christmas tree/Hanukkah bush! So, go forth and celebrate – create light, spread the light, share the light, be the light.

(c) 2022 Shobha Vanchiswar

The Gift Of A Garden

The garden has been put to bed a while now. However, there are the odds and ends that keep me connected to it. For one thing, there’s the greenhouse which requires vigilance at all times. Is the heater running properly or has the propane tank run out? Depending on how cold it is, the heater can work hard and deplete the fuel quicker than usual. There is an electric heater that kicks in should that happen but we try not to let that go on for too long as that can get costly. And this year, we are all particularly aware of the cost of energy aren’t we. To that end, my odd job man aka my spouse, has built a heat exchanger to help lower heat loss. We will know its efficacy in due course but every bit helps.

The greenhouse also requires regular watering. This is actually one of those simple pleasures. It’s a fine way to commune with the plants – it really is a joy to be there when it is frigid and bare outside. At present, the lemons are ready for picking, some geraniums are flowering and so are the hibiscus standards. There’s always reason to enjoy the greenhouse and I’m truly grateful for it. As much as I enjoy the bulbs in bloom in the house, a visit to the greenhouse feels specially restorative.

The snowfall we received over the weekend was quite lovely. Highlighting the patterns and tracing the shapes, it gave me the delight of viewing the garden is a wholly different way. More artsy and less horticultural. Opportunities like this are valuable as it opens up new perspectives and possibilities.

Decorating for the holiday season with natural greens and foraged material takes on a particular purpose – an homage to Nature herself. All the forms of beauty that grace us through the seasons bring so much happiness. Every part of a plant – branches, leaves, seedpods, fruit and flowers are so utterly amazing. How fortunate am I to have this garden to serve my needs!

I see how the garden, in one form or other, keeps me company at all times. Soon, I’ll be making lemon marmalade to enjoy breakfasts of hot toast slathered with butter and accompanied with strong coffee by the fireside. A choice of pesto from homegrown basil, nasturtium or arugula for pasta dinners. Other herbs harvested and dried will flavor innumerable meals and, there is always fresh bay and rosemary on hand in the greenhouse. Bottles that grew pears within and now filled with brandy sit pretty and ready to offer up a smooth after-dinner drink.

Dried hydrangea and alliums are already decorating the house. As are the paperwhites and amaryllis. Soon, the various plants, lemons and such will be included in still-life set ups to be immortalized in my paintings.

Yes, there is always some element of the garden elevating my life. This is the gift that keeps on giving.

Note: I have 2 paintings at the Winter Exhibition “Flowers, Trees and Roots” at the View Center For Arts And Culture in Old Forge. New York. If you’re in the area, do stop by.

In the greenhouse

Lemon tree, very pretty

(c) 2022 Shobha Vanchiswar

Doing December

Things To Do In December

1. Hurry up and finish any pending plant protecting tasks! Ditto for statuary and other articles left outdoors.

2. Complete mulching all plants.

3. Drain out all outdoor water pipes. Store hoses properly.

4. Keep bird feeders filled.

5. Keep on top of watering plants in greenhouse and/or house. Stay vigilant for signs of pests or disease.

6. Set aside seed and plant catalogs for making plans for next year’s growing seasons.

7. Archive garden photos taken through this year. They will come in handy when you plan and design for next year.

8. Enjoy paperwhites, amaryllis bulbs indoors.

9. Make use of this down time and relax!

The list above is my general to-do of garden related tasks for December. This year however, planting of bulbs and sowing poppy seeds got delayed due to unusually mild days in November. I hope everyone has also completed all necessary planting and sowing by now.

While #9 says to relax, I’m actually in the thick of reorganizing various areas/rooms of the house. It requires working systematically and getting the cooperation and compliance of the family. The latter is harder to achieve than the former. The ones who are chiefly responsible for creating disorder are also the ones who cannot see the need to do any organizing. Oh brother!

And then there’s the matter of the Holidays. Whether its going to be low-key, over the top or anywhere in-between, there’s still a call for doing something. I believe we must celebrate in some manner. As the year draws to a conclusion, its a blessing to gather with family and friends – remember how it felt in 2020 when we were unable to do that? The decorations with natural materials like evergreens, dried flowers, pine cones, acorns, other seed heads, moss, branches and such keeps us connected to Nature and the paperwhites and amaryllis flowering indoors remind us of the promise of spring. How cheering it is to have candles, twinkly lights and fireplaces aglow – warming and brightening our homes and hearts.

This is a time for gratitude and grace. As a firm believer in celebrating everything big or small, doesn’t the fact that we’ve together completed yet another circuit around the sun surely deserves to be honored.

I have indeed completed that aforementioned list so, relax I shall. With a sense of joy and place. Well ensconced amidst the happy chaos of celebrating.. The spirit of the Season prevails.

(c) 2022 Shobha Vanchiswar

Homestretch

So, Thanksgiving has come and gone. The Holiday Season has begun. What that means is up for grabs. My guess is that for most of us it is a combination of decorating, shopping, cooking, year end/Holiday events, It can feel frenzied. With family expected by the middle of December, I too am grappling with my to-do list. I’d like to get plenty done before their arrival so we’re able to make the very most of our time together. It’s been three and a half years since we last got together – so this feels particularly emotional and exciting.

But first, there’s much to do. Getting the house ready for our first house guests since the end of 2019 and Work From Home having changed the general configuration of how we now function means some creative thinking is in order. It seems as though every room must be reconsidered for purpose and aesthetics. I’m feeling excited and yet daunted by the challenge.

There’s shopping, baking, cooking and decorating too. I really want to get most things done before the guests arrive. And everything will indeed get done IF I stay on course with my agenda. At first, that aforementioned agenda started out looking really packed. But after some good deep breaths and common sense prevailing, I’ve simplified it. That’s the key – keep it simple. And authentic.

Simple, yet hearty meals cooked and frozen. Stews, soups, baked eggplant Parmigiana, lasagnas are ideal. Add a fresh, green salad, good bread, fine wine and dinner is served. I also love cheese boards, fresh fruits, crudites with a variety of creative and healthy dips ( homemade and/or store bought), an assortments of nuts, finger foods ( again homemade or store bought) in lieu of traditional meals. It’s about enjoying the company not about trying to impress anyone.

I find cleaning and organizing very cathartic. And typically, I do a big sort out in every room twice a year. Early spring and early winter. Hence, at this time, it’s all about getting cozy and comfortable. After a thorough cleaning, extra throws and blankets are brought out, the fireplace is made ready for use all winter, reading material and good lighting easily accessed, ditto for board games and puzzles, all the makings for enjoying the season. Candles and the paperwhites and amaryllis bulbs I’ve got going keep the home looking and smelling festive. Dried hydrangea spray painted gold adorn the mantel. In other places the hydrangea are left in their natural state of faded beauty. Pine cones, acorns and seed pods, leaves still clinging to branches, sprigs of evergreens and other treasures found around the garden adorn the house. I find it enormously comforting to bring the natural world in – they remind me of our divine connection to Nature and the part we play in the grand scheme. It humbling too.

As we enter the final month of the year, I think about the seasons gone by – the highlights and low-lights. More specifically, I assess the role I have played. What am I proud of, where did I fall short, what could I have done better or different? What am I trying to achieve and how can I do it? My covenant with Nature is lifelong and constant. As a result, what I do and how I live matters. My choices in products I buy and use matters. I think about what more I can do to better align myself to my mission of doing right by the environment. These thoughts are most often examined when I’m on my daily walks. They inform me on how I address my daily chores and leisure. Which comes down to how I deal with the demands of the holiday season – Do no harm, keep it simple, natural and most importantly, honest.

Being home for the holidays is the ultimate luxury.

Note: Images from previous years –

Home

Dried alliums painted gold – sparklers!

Golden garland of dried hydrangea

Homegrown lemons brightening everything

Amaryllis tree

(c) 2022 Shobha Vanchiswar

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Saying Grace

Thanksgiving week has arrived and all the chatter is about where one will celebrates, what will be served and how much will be consumed. At some point, what we’re thankful for might be shared. Despite this being such a favorite holiday, the reason for it gets somewhat lost. I’ve learned that any lengthy discussion on gratitude is viewed as too sappy. I get it. What one person is grateful for is not that interesting to everyone else. But, surely, is it too much to ask of ourselves to give due consideration for our blessings? This is not about religion, commerce or God forbid, politics. It’s simply about life. In a world gone mad, pausing to appreciate what we have is an act of pure grace. That gives perspective to where we are and what we’re living through. This is a shared, sacred experience.

I’ve got my own private ritual at Thanksgiving. I take a walk during which I think about the year (almost) gone by. In doing so, the difficult or particularly challenging events come up right away. These are the things that seem to overshadow everything else and are not so pleasant to relive. However, I’ve noticed that as soon as I confront those memories, the people or circumstances that help(ed) in solving or coping with each challenge also show up. That’s not to say that things were not bad or to minimize the pain, Rather, it is acknowledging the truth, accepting the reality but also seeing the good that was exposed in helping us deal with the struggle. The helpers, the intangible shifts for the better, the solutions that came in unexpected guises are the blessings for which I’m grateful. The growth as a result of each such experience, the hindsight that instructs on the hows or whys, the strength and understanding that comes from it all cannot and should not be undervalued.

There are of course the clearly joyous moments and happenings that makes me feel very grateful. People and possessions, music and miracles, art and amity, the many celebrations and successes – the list is long because there are always things that are good. And cannot, must not be taken for grated.

In the midst of all the noise and chaos, there is one thing that has unfailingly kept me anchored and given me guidance, purpose, sanctuary, perspective and solace. My garden. The science of the positive impact of time spent in the great outdoors is in – it confirms what humans have always known – that Nature is the best counselor there is. And it is free for all and sundry. We just need to pay attention.

So, in essence, among all the many blessings I’ve been given, my own piece of Nature is a mainstay. My wellness of mind, body and spirit depends on it. I’m constantly learning and growing as a person because of it. The garden embodies all that is true and sacred. A space of Grace.

I wish each and everyone a very blessed Thanksgiving. I hope that you too will find your place of peace in a garden, park, lakeside or seaside, mountain top or woods somewhere.

Garden images spanning the year thus far –

January snow

January beauty indoors

February snow

February growth

March indoors

March

April flowers

Forsythia brought inside

May in the meadow

May flowers

June roses

June

July at the feeder

July promise

August exuberance

August aflutter

September exotica

October dahlia

October Diwali celebration

November in gold

November indoors

(c) 2022 Shobha Vanchiswar

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Finding The Light

Like thousands of others, I am markedly affected by the short days and lack of light. What I do and when I do them is linked to how much light there is. For sure, my mood and temperament are directly proportional to the amount of light I’m exposed to. I realize it’s hard for those not affected by this seasonal disorder to fully understand. But, the problem is very real. And not fun at all.

I consider myself fortunate because while I’m affected, there are countless others who are debilitated by the short days and long nights. Hence what I say below is my personal strategy and by no means meant to imply a simple solution to what is a complex condition.

Mornings take on greater importance – I try to get as much done as I can by front-loading my day. It includes taking a daily walk for 20 to 30 minutes so I specifically get my required dose of sunlight and of course, it gets juices flowing. I enjoy looking at whats doing in the landscape, greeting neighbors and preparing my mind for the things I hope to accomplish that day.

As we head into winter, the work in the garden more or less comes to an end. It naturally becomes imperative for me to get outside more frequently each day. And yes, I also do light therapy by way of a light box – it is particularly useful when the weather is inclement.

While getting enough light is most critical for those prone to SAD, there are other things that also help in coping and improving ones mood. Social interactions play a critical role. I’ve found it immensely cheering to have ‘play dates’ with friends. To meet for walks ( more sunlight!), coffee/lunch/dinner, a visit to a museum can be so energizing. Even online chats and phone calls are good. It’s all about being connected and feeling relevant. I call it friend-therapy.

There’s something else I do because I must. I start bulbs indoors and outdoors in pots so there’s always something growing and blooming throughout the dark, cold months. Why not simply buy a weekly bunch of flowers instead? Actually, I do that as well but, there’s a consistent, undefinable thrill about watching the daily, progressive growth of the bulbs and awaiting the flowers. It keeps me in a state of hope and optimism which is key to managing my winter mood.

First, by mid-October, I start cooling bulbs. Prime real estate in the refrigerator is given over to bags of hyacinths, muscari and crocus. Once that is done, I begin setting up paperwhites in containers all around the house. Simply observing the green shoots emerge and grow is mood lifting. The delight of anticipation cannot be overstated. The first sight of those buds in thin, translucent coats is reason to celebrate. I love watching the buds plump up and eventually break through those casings. And voila! Flowers so beautiful and fragrant to brighten any day. From very white to creamy tones, paperwhites are dear to me. They’re just so very easy to grow.

Note:There are some like my husband who do not like the characteristic scent of paperwhites. I try to get those that have a more acceptable perfume and I also keep them in locations he doesn’t frequent. The good man puts up with my many such transgressions.

While paperwhites get me into the spirit of the season, amaryllis definitively mark the festivities of the holidays. So, by early or mid-November, I get a few of those started as well. In another couple of weeks, a few more will join their ranks and that’ll take me nicely through January. By that time, the cooling bulbs will be brought out of the refrigerator and coaxed ( so much nicer than ‘forced’) into awaking.

In March, I begin checking on the bulbs that I’d potted up at around the same time bulbs were being planted in the garden. These pots are kept outside in a sheltered area. As if on cue, around the time of the Vernal Equinox, the pointy tips of the bulbs can be seen breaking through the soil. A splash of water and a move to a sunnier but still sheltered locale will get them growing fast. I like having these pots where I can see them from the house. These bulbs are generally a few weeks ahead of their in-ground relatives and do a mighty fine job heralding the season of rebirth.

And that’s how I keep myself happy and hopeful at a time when the season makes me struggle. A combination of light, social and plant therapy. A sacred triumvirate.

(c) 2022 Shobha Vanchiswar