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Sunday, November 15, 2009

taming a wild dragon

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'Flying Dragon' Hardy Orange (Poncirus trifoliata) at Beal Gardens

I should have taken her picture. (I want to get bolder snapping people.) The college student kneeling at the foot of the Flying Dragon Hardy Orange tree is one of the "slave laborers" in the Horticulture program, and weeding campus gardens is part of her curriculum. When the weather entices, Inge and I head out Fridays at lunch to sit on a bench by a fountain or walk one of the most beautiful campuses in the world. I watched the kneeling student's gloved hands picking at leaves and tiny weeds in black soil and recognized my garden clippers sticking out her back jeans pocket. She flashed us a smile, obviously enjoying her work.

I learn best from watching and imitating, and the student tidying those beds inspired me to put our own beds in order at the farm before winter. In July before the wedding my niece Jennifer worked long, hard - and she said "enjoyable" - hours on the veggie and flower beds to shape and beautify them: ha, wedding weeding. It would be a shame to let them run too far amuck.

Fighting the grass whose roots are bound with my poor iris rhizomes will never end (photo below). I was too lethargic to tend to these ruffley pale iris in their previous bed, and the grass did what grass does, shooting roots far and wide under the iris, herbs and daylilies. Now I pay the price, like I did Saturday in another weekend of warm sun, tediously pulling thin blades and roots, making my carpal tunnel weakened wrists ache.

But yikes, I won't get carried away and manicure the farm with its rustic barns to look like Versailles. I don't just love tended iris, tulips, peonies, columbine, sedum, black-eyed Susans, coneflowers and the like. The wild natural beauty of goldenrod, Timothy grass, Queen Anne's lace and sumak in the meadow - maybe not quite as wild as a flying dragon! - is where I go sit to soak in Nature. One day if the whole farm becomes naturalized, will it be by choice, or because of my laziness?

Nature never stops working - it's the ultimate example. But my hat's off to two women of a younger generation for motivating me to get off my butt and take care of all those sweet plants that I depend on in the spring to pull me out of the dormancy of winter.




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34 comments:

Renee said...

Sweet.

xoxoxo

Anonymous said...

If you enjoy tending to your garden, then do it. If not, then save your wrists from further damage.

Save your hands and wrists for weaving your wonderful word spells.

crn

Delphyne said...

I had no idea that there was a Flying Dragon Hardy Orange tree!

Love the lady bug!

CottageGirl said...

An Orange tree up in your neck of the woods? Is it protected during the winter?

Those youngsters sometimes do inspire us, don't they? At work I have a young cohort whom I love and admire. (I could be her mother.) We've taught together at the same grade level now for 15 years. I've always been the leader, introducing new ideas .. some good. Some not! But as I'm getting older, I'm getting more set in my ways, and now she is stepping up and trying new things ... and I follow along. I love to she how she has bloomed!

Nature does have a way of being beautiful ... whether or not it is our way!

Lovely ladybug!

Judy said...

I can relate to achy wrists after gardening. I use to be able to garden a full day. Now a few hours is enough to send me soaking in an Epsom salts hot bath.

Susan said...

Mother Nature is working overtime in my flower beds...she needs to take a little break and write a blog or something! Seriously, my beds are a mess and I'm having a hard time caring. I usually just leave it until spring. It gives the birds someplace to get seeds for a while.

I applaud your valiant efforts to control that industrious lady though! :)

Ruth said...

Back to you, Renee.

Ruth said...

CRN, you are a great encourager. Thank you.

Ruth said...

Delphyne, though I had photographed this very tree in the winter a few years ago, for the life of me I couldn't remember what kind of orange it was. I had a time locating it again. Thank you, Google.

As for lady bugs, we have wayyyy too many.

Ruth said...

CottageGirl, I don't know how it's hardy up here myself.

I love to see the next generation take over. It's happening in my family, and we "elders" are moving into the more sedentary time regarding leadership, as it should be. Lending our vast wisdom, of course!

It is hard NOT to get a ladybug in a shot now.

Ruth said...

Judy, I've been raking on and off today, and my shoulders are killing me.

(And drat, the hot tub is on the fritz.)

Ruth said...

Susie Q, normally, always, I leave them for spring! This time, it was not a "should" (which I don't listen to any more), I really was inspired by those two young ladies. I would not do it if I didn't enjoy it. As a matter of fact, the atelier bed is only half finished. Today I've been raking.

shicat said...

Im with you Ruth,I like to let nature to take it's course.Do you have to mow a ton of grass? Or do you have meadow grass with pathways?
That darn grass is so difficult to get rid of,once it invades the flower gardens,I am always fighting it.Good thing I'm not a perfectionist and enjoy letting nature takes it's course. I have left my coneflowers seed pods for the finch. I will be interesting to see how the snow falls on my winter garden.I just love to read about your life on the farm. Do you heat your house with wood only? Like Gwen...

ds said...

Would you believe that I envy you your raking? That was an outdoor chore that I loved: seeing how high a pile you could make & then jumping in. And doing it over and over again. As for your wrists and shoulders: let Nature do her thing so that you can do yours. Which is to give us your words. We need them. Heck, we are selfish: we crave them.

Bella Rum said...

I think gardening is the number one pastime in the U.S. I love the results, but it is a continual labor of love. It's worth it though.

Ruth said...

Cathy dear, we mow some of the yard, but the meadow is wild, with a curving, curling path that Don mows.

We left the wedding sunflowers for the chickadees, and there are many piles of brush around the property with little bio-worlds that go fluttering when I walk by. We let one large segment of the yard go unmowed starting last year. I love seeing the grass grow and then lie in patterns under the wind and rain.

We have a forced air furnace, but it hardly comes in when we use the wood stove. We had to pay the propane tank rental last year because we didn't use enough gas to waive the fee! That made us happy. We like the bedroom cool at night, like most people.

There is enough dead wood lying and standing around the farm to last us for the rest of our time here, I think.

Ruth said...

DS, I like the raking too. My shoulders are sore primarily because of stress (that's where I keep it), and the raking aggravates it. But I like the zen motion of it, and the sense of accomplishment.

I have fabulous childhood memories of raking leaves in my hometown. My friend Jimmie and I would rake them into walls for a house, and then we'd play house. And then we raked them into piles and jumped into them too.

You are so very kind, what you said.

Ruth said...

Bella, I enjoy it when I enjoy it, the yard work. The rest of the time I let it go. After raking today the yard looks so good.

Sidney said...

A garden is indeed a lot of work... but it is also very rewarding.

dutchbaby said...

My turn to be up at 3 a.m. I love reading about all that inspires you and how you in turn inspire us.

Ruth said...

Hi, Sidney, glad you're back.

Ruth said...

Oh dear, Dutchbaby, I hope that doesn't continue - the waking up at 3 I mean. Thank you for the kind words.

Nancy said...

Are you sure you don't have another wedding you could host in the Fall? You could have one a season!

Ruth said...

Nancy, wha? Did you say something?

Oh, a wedding. Maybe if someone else came and did all the work. :)

shoreacres said...

Editing's been on my mind, and what a wonderful metaphor for the editing process you've given us.

There's nothing quite so awful as a piece of prose that's been allowed to run amuck because of laziness, only to be excused as having "naturalized".

The photo of the tree is lovely. My personal favorite is the Osage orange, or horseapple. Do you have those as well?

Ruth said...

Linda, you remind me of someone who said "it's damn hard to make a poem sound this easy" and another someone - an actress - who said that in a certain role in the 1800s it took a lot of makeup to make her look so natural.

That's the trick, isn't it? To first do what you love, create what YOU like - whether a yard, garden, home or piece of writing. Then if you want an audience, make it pleasing to them as well. AND, in that process, make it seem effortless, so that the narrative or lyricism unfolds as if it originated in their own thoughts and heart.

We do have an Osage orange right down the road here at my office. I had a time finding out what the fruits on the ground were when I was posting at a blog called East Lansing Daily Photo. Someone in Europe told me what they were. Strange fruit!

Arti said...

Another day at the farm, natural, idyllic... and also, diligence and sweaty work, essential to cultivate beauty of any kind. Thanks for the inspiration, Ruth!

Ruth said...

Arti, thank you for visiting the farm yesterday. I loved having you stop by.

Ginnie said...

Like you, Ruth, I also learn by observing, so this post made me smile. Sometimes I see my "laziness" as my need to let things lie fallow for awhile...to heal the land, so to speak.

Anna said...

Ruth it is nice to hear that there are some young souls that work hard, and we can be inspired. Usually its the other way. Happy gardening, I love gardening, weeding too. It is such a relaxing and nice time to be one with the nature. Anna :)

Oliag said...

...Flying Dragon Orange tree...sounds wonderful but looks too dangerous for me to plant:)

..I have to say hats off to you as this post has inspired me to get out there and clean up my beds now that I finally raked and mowed this past weekend...What I find impossible to keep up with is all the wild violets growing up between the lilies of the valley...I didn't mind this at first but now the violets seem to be taking over...somewhere in there must be a lesson in life that I'm sure you would be able to make a beautiful post out of:)

Ruth said...

Boots, you don't have a lazy bone or brain synapse in your body. But I know what you mean. Boy do I.

Ruth said...

Anna, when I don't want to weed, I try to think like that, slow down and be zen.

Ruth said...

Thank you for that, Oliag. I too have violet "weeds" and I love them. Now the lilies of the valley are the ones that keep popping up everywhere around here. That looooong root system just keeps going.