GARDEN THERAPY: Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes – February 2016

Thumbnail Mel Bellar (1)By Mel Bellar

“Change is about the only thing that you can count on not to change.” That is my version of the famous quote “Change is the only constant,” attributed to that Greek guy, Heraclitus. I have been thinking about change a lot lately, mostly brought on by how strange our weather has been and how different this whole winter is feeling.

The garden is a great teacher, but change is perhaps its most relentless lesson. The garden is constantly in a state of change, within a given season, from season to season and from decade to decade. Without the gardener to maintain and shape the garden it will surprisingly and quickly revert to a non-garden or to the wild.

Even though it can’t happen, sometimes on a day when my garden is just right—there is enough in bloom, it is freshly weeded, edged, dead-headed and mown; I want to stop the clock and derail change. I want to savor and hold onto the moment but it is fleeting. As gardeners, we also have to contend with and adjust to changes way beyond our control, like the weather, pests and diseases. Our lives are much like a garden in that we, too, have to plan and maintain to keep from going off the rails. But, there is always a lot that we have to accept and roll with the punches.

As far as changes go, I believe that climate “change” is happening and I do not look forward to the array of repercussions. I don’t know for sure that our odd weather this season is a direct manifestation of that “climate change” but I am sure that it will slowly and cyclically effect us. I have already started to anticipate these changes by experimenting with more zone 5 plants, at which I am having some success. Once again (as always) I am so happy to have my home here in Andes. Even if we end up as a zone 6, we can survive and still have our seasons and, hopefully, snow in the winter. No, I am not allowing climate change to influence me to change the name of my business. Although I do like Rock the Garden Landscape Design or maybe Rock Star Landscape Design.  What do you think? My wife thinks they both sound less professional than Zone4 Landscapes but I am not so sure.

It seems ironic that this year with WAY more time than usual to clean up my garden, I simply didn’t find the motivation to get it done. I did the minimum, and it looks fine, but the rest kind of deteriorated with more rain, warmth and the occasional wind to blow things around. Note: I am ambivalent about the fall cleanup in general as it is unnecessary for anything other than aesthetic reasons. Oftentimes I want to try to control the change of the seasons by making it tidy and to put it in control. I like to at least cut back and rake up the debris of the non-native plants. However, this year it just all seemed weird and messy and thus felt all right to let it go. Perhaps I am changing and evolving into a more relaxed style.

Now, about the weather: We finally did get a little snow, which was a welcome change. Immediately everything felt more comfortable and I realized how much I need and appreciate winter and snow. Suddenly with the winter dusting, the black-eyed susans’ seed heads, carcasses of the grasses and branch structure of the magnolias with the ripe buds look right! And the snow against the stone walls with their goldenrod and aster remains, looks beautiful and restful. Now I know MANY of you have been very happy with the weather and don’t particularly care for the winter and especially the snow. Maybe that could happen to me some day, but it would be a drastic change because right now I love it. To me it is one of the joys of living here.

Another note on change. I was invited to open my garden for the Garden Conservancy Open Days program this year. Delaware County is going to be on the schedule, tentatively for July 2nd.

We have change in our blood even if we fight it.~

Mel Bellar is the owner of Zone4 Landscapes and a passionate Andes