March 28th, 2005
Paths Between Nature and Nurture

garden path
March 28, 2005. Fresh paths in the garden.

The yard is a mass of flowers and bright green foliage which makes it looks like spring outside. But it feels like winter. The heater, which is set at 60F degrees, came on last night. So this morning, I built a fire to get rid of some of the wood from last weekend’s deconstruction project.

Friday (3/25) afternoon was a balmy 80 forcing me to water some seedlings in the vegetable gardens. That evening thunderstorms blew in, bringing hail and high winds. No damage to our yard [Correction: medium-sized branch down off our healthiest cedar elm, the one behind the shed.] , but across the street a huge limb cracked of our neighbor’s cedar elm. At Soul of the Garden Tom Spencer reports that all his flowering trees were denuded, their stripped blossoms littering the paths.

Despite the cold and the wind, I overdid it in the garden yesterday weeding the north beds in the back and remulching the path. It is spring after all, and no gardener is without the aches and pains that are the badges of her passion. Someone suggested recycling newspaper by putting it under the mulch of paths to block the weeds. I read my news online, but hit upon the idea of recycling grocery bags instead. I hope this will keep the weeds down. Maybe I should put in a more permanent hardscape. But mulched paths seem right for the feel of this garden, even though they require a lot of maintenance.

I’m always pleased when the garden is neat and tidy. That’s when it looks like a garden. Nature is plants and the complicated ecosystems that support them. But even the most natural of gardens is an unnatural arrangement of plants. We stamp our will upon the landscape, even those of us who prefer to work with nature. And often, like this weekend, nature stamps back. Maybe it’s that dramatic tension between artfulness and chaos that keeps us coming back to the garden. Or maybe it’s just the flowers and blue skies and finding a two little snakes under a rock.

by M Sinclair Stevens

2 Responses to post “Paths Between Nature and Nurture”

  1. From Donna:

    I really enjoyed your blog. I like the way you have your weekly observations for several years. BTW, you have some beautiful pictures on your site, I can understand why someone wanted to use them. 🙂

  2. From mstevens:

    Thanks. Blogs tend to be sequential; in contrast, gardening is cyclical. I first got the idea for keeping a week-by-week account from “Lee Bailey’s Country Flowers” a lovely book that I read when I first started gardening. I’d hoped that with good records that I’d be able to get better sense of bloom times to help me plan the garden. But in Austin, the same week really varies from year to year. For instance, this year only one larkspur is open this week, but another year an early heat wave finished them off by Easter.

    I’m in the process of migrating to a new computer and have to convert a bunch of FrameMaker files to text, including my gardening journal from the 1990s. So I’m going to merge the two systems. When I started blogging, I neglected my other journal. I hate having my information in multiple formats because then I can never find just the thing I need.