Archive for December, 2017

November: Thanksgiving

 3. November 2016
Planted: A Year of Gardening
The series starts here

The new patterns are rich, but changing patterns is hard.

In this house, there is no window where you can stand and see the garden. You have to crane your neck, like the old New York joke of an apartment with a river view, if you stand in that one spot and kinda look through those buildings over there. To see this garden, you have to be outside, in it.

My family, or rather my ex-husband Wei’s family, came for Thanksgiving, christening the house, but it felt cramped and awkward, and I didn’t make a very good meal. Wei’s absence was a sour note that no one played, but everyone heard. No one took leftovers home. I think that I won’t be hosting Thanksgiving anymore.

I’m used to loneliness. I even crave it. But loneliness in a space that doesn’t feel like your own space is a different degree of solitude, the more poignant when it happens near the holidays. Surrounded by plant orphans staged in their foster-gardens I geared myself up for the sadness of Christmas to come. Next year the Farm will be fenced and the perennials will have a home.

But right now, I just want to be able to look out a window at a garden.

11- (3) Nov Breezeway

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November: Climate change

Planted: A Year of Gardening
2. November 2016

In my own alternate universe it was strange not being able to do my walkabout through the paths in the large yard; I wanted to see “my” autumn garden, developed over years. I wanted to look out my back window and see winter set in, as I had for more than two decades. I liked the anticipation of creating a new space from scratch, especially now that I know what I’m doing, but in the gloomy chill it felt daunting and unfair that I should devote so many years to a garden and not have it now.


The herbs and greens were vibrant and thriving in their protected corner, and the stupid garlic sprouted, despite not being planted in the still-friable soil until November 1. A squirrel found one of the daffodil bulbs, leaving a hole, but I couldn’t tell if she actually managed to dig it out. There were no chunks of bulb around, so fingers crossed.

I went to the local community garden and stole some of the ubiquitous chives.

Gardeners started noticing changes in the climate well ahead of everyone else. Tomato hornworms, once a southern pest, starting showing up in Illinois a few years ago. The ground started freezing later and later, hence my fall-sprouting garlic (as I publish this in December 2017, the ground is still not frozen). The short July dry spell turned into weeks without rain, then storms that used to water the autumn garden started getting violent enough to ruin the autumn garden. Crops like beans that used to fit two plantings now fit three, and cool season crops like peas stopped producing because it was getting hot too early.

Tasks that I normally designate to October were November tasks this year: stealing leaf bags from the neighbors for the compost and the planting beds, putting bulbs and the herbs in the ground. Thanksgiving weekend was more seasonal, cold and damp, with a soft chill and light rain. In this extended mild autumn, there was no bite to the wind or the temperature. I staged the potted plants from the outdoors only to the breezeway. They can come inside in December, I guess.


Just finding the blog? Go back here and find the start of the REPLANTING A LIFE series!

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Planted: A Year of Gardening
1. November 2016

While we waited for winter to come, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series, Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize, and Donald Trump became President.

And I was in a new house, for the first time in 30 years.

After a sleepless night, I woke up post-election morning absolutely devastated at the outcome. I’ve had my candidate lose before, many times, but never before to someone who made me fear for the safety of my friends and family.

The bright spot of the day was the arrival of my redbud tree. I got this for just $200 from a high-end nursery (retail $650 installed), by purchasing a gift certificate at a charity auction.

I christened it “Hillary’s Red-White-And-Blue-Bud.”

Hillary's red white and blue bud

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