These sunflower stalks are what sit on the edge of the flower garden today. I like to imagine blooming dandelions. Bright, sunny, yellow petals in a thick cluster, calling bees and welcoming the bright spring sun that will warm the soil. Potential. Pure, practical, beautiful, potential.
In the garden today we are still in a place of fall time clean up. There is a small amount floating row cover in the fields, a temporary greenhouse left split and flapping after hurricane Sandy winds came through, a few more roots to dig, existing greenhouse space to tend, and new greenhouses being built. To-do lists. oommpphh.
It sounds as though we’ve moved on from one project to a next before finishing the dirty clean-up work of where we were. In some instances this was true. Farming is about prioritizing and time management as much as choosing varieties and handing food to customers. Sometimes we make it most of the way through a task and then it’s too cold, too dark, or there is another crop or project calling louder, and we abandon what we are doing and move on.
There is also the balance between doing the work that needs to be done, and keeping it interesting and inspiring. Some of the above tasks certainly do feel like work in the traditional sense. Moving row cover surely gets one wet, tires the arms, and then what… at this time of year you don’t move the cover to find a secret stash of thriving arugula or spicy mix. You are moving the cover for practical (boring) reasons, so it will have the best protection necessary in order to leave the barn, ready and able for duty during the spring season – when the dandelions are blooming.
These days the inspiration for me to plow through those dirty, end of season tasks, comes from day dreams about flowering plants and bulbs. Although the small amount of flowers we’ve grown in the past have always been received well, I’ve always focused our efforts on food that people can eat. Why not plant more flowers? Food for the senses I think can be just as fulfilling at the carrots we put in our bellies. This fall I’ve planted the idea in me that if I finish…. I can make a break for the hardware store and snatch up any remaining tulip and other interesting bulbs. Maybe at night I can find a reputable company online and get an express shipment….
I live in the idea that although consciously planted, the spring time arrival of tulips and daffodils would feel like the unexpected. Their strong stems and bright colors would feel like a bonus, cultivated delight, to get a glimpse of and inspire a smile during May, one of the most stressful months in the garden.
And, yes, it is growing very late in the year to plant bulbs here in Maine. Perhaps it is even my naiveté that it is an action that makes sense at all. But, this morning, even though writing during darkness, I know there is not frost on the ground today. A balmy stretch of 50 degree weather rolled in yesterday, which gives me hope that maybe, maybe, I can still work the soil enough to plant some bulbs. And then there is greenhouse space to consider too. Edges of beds and empty tables that could hold flats and containers… maybe I’m on to something here. A whole new layer of planting, full of color, and energy, and surprises. Maybe my early morning and lunch time day dreams don’t have to be just that. Maybe it is time to really plant some bulbs, to add a new dimension to our garden.