So I remember

With the bitterly-cold weather this past while, I am longing for spring with an intensity that I’m hard-pressed to define. Maybe this time of year brings a form of amnesia and I experience these feelings every February. A visceral longing overtakes me and I so want to step into my garden clogs, open the screen door and once again, feel the earth beneath my feet.


The snow drifts seem impossibly high these days. It is hard to imagine them disappearing as quickly as they do each spring. For me, these are the magical moments of spring – the sudden melting of the snow, the puddles in the park and those lovely bits of green popping up in the garden.

No matter that spring is several months off for us in Regina. I have no difficulty at all conjuring up spring flowers in my mind’s eye. I easily picture the profusion of Liverlilies (Hepatica nobilis, pictured above) that, last year, took me by surprise as they bloomed for weeks on end.

I remember, through photographs and now my blog, what my garden has been like these past years. Every photograph brings back a memory of what I was thinking and feeling at that moment when the picture was taken.

If I close my eyes, it’s as if I can breathe in warm air and the delicate scents that pervaded the garden. I remember my incredible excitement when the Meadowrue (Thalictrum rochebrunianum, pictured above) bloomed. With its late appearance last spring, I was certain it was lost.

Isn’t it truly our memories that keep us nurturing our gardens from one season to the next? As with children, we get to know our plants intimately and can sense when something just isn’t right.

If asked, any gardener that I’ve ever met, can tell you about their experiences with each of their plants. They can debate the merits of plant placement and colour combinations endlessly. Plants that need replacement are thought about hard and long as are potential new plant acquisitions.

More than anything though, gardeners remember the joy their plants brought. Similarly, they are good-natured and are philosophical about their plant failures.

Sometimes I remember my garden in Ottawa. I said goodbye to it nearly seven years ago. It amazes me to realise that I can still remember exactly what was planted where. For several years after leaving, I fretted about some of the plants and wondered if they were receiving the care they needed.

It was hard letting go of that garden because it was the first garden I created on my own. I grew all my favourite shrubs and perennials and interspersed them with raspberries, currants, strawberries, rhubarb, herbs and vegetables. Vines took over fences and climbed up walls. Trees sheltered some areas from too much sunlight. Stenciled flowerpots spilled over with flowers and herbs. Interspersed with my plant memories are those of my son playing alongside of me from the time he could walk until he was eight-years-old.


And more than anything this is what I cherish – the special people and animals that will forever remain in my store of garden memories.

On an entirely different note, one of the things that I am enjoying through this winter is reading all of the garden blogs that I have encountered – no matter the climate, each of them brings me a smile and a feeling that we are all in this toget
her.

Blotanical.com anyone?

63 thoughts on “So I remember

  1. David says:

    Hi Kate -Every climate has it’s advantages. While Sydney’s quite warm even in winter (worst min temp is ~ 2-4 º C) we dont really have four seasons. We have two. Hot and cool. Take autumn for example in Sydney – our deciduous trees slowly turn brown through a pale yellow. We lack the cooling that brings the glorious reds and oranges of that season to other locations!To me, snow and ice are magical and almost otherworldly :D!David.

  2. Yolanda Elizabet says:

    Dear Kate, I just read on Gintiono’s blog that you are experiencing temperatures of minus 47 C. Good grief, the under-gardener and I were quite shocked to read that. The worst we ever had was – 20 C and that was at night when everybody was nicely tucked up in bed.No wonder you dream of Spring, what a relief it must be for you when it (finally) comes!I left behind my first real garden 6 years ago and I know how heartbreaking an experience that is. It’s like saying goodbye to a very dear friend, knowing that you will never see her/him ever again.I’m glad that you are enjoying all those lovely garden blogs out there! Have a great weekend and keep warm!

  3. Carolyn gail says:

    Hi Kate,What a nostalgic and wonderful post. I don’t know if I could ever bear to leave my garden behind.Blotanical is a lot of fun. Kind of addictive. I think I have to sue Stuart because he’s the cause of my carpal tunnel syndrome !Chicago’s under a foot of snow and Lake Michigan actually froze over. That’s not easy to do and it’s only happened a very few times !I’m sending you some warm Southern comfort from Tampa, Florida !

  4. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Hi Kate, It sounds like you have a case of cabin fever. With Temps like you are having it is no wonder.Your garden is so beautiful it is no wonder you miss it during winter. I don’t have a great memory for details which is why I keep a journal but I do remember those “feelings” during planting and nuturing of plants.I hope you are warm and happy this weekend.

  5. Meems says:

    Hello Kate, I loved reading this post as it very well tells the story of the heart of a gardener. I especially liked the memories of your son being along side of you. My children were often at my side as well and oh the lessons we all encountered.Hubby and I are at that stage in life when we “discuss” often the options of moving elsewhere. Leaving my garden after all these 24 years happily cultivating each nook and cranny would be more difficult than leaving the home I love as well. I really admire you northern gardeners for sticking it out through the winters just waiting for the first signs of spring. On the ‘sunny side’ — just think of all the gardening energy you are storing up for those days of color and blooms! In the meantime – I really must figure out how I can read all the great blogs from Blotanical AND get my gardening accomplished. LOLHave a great weekend!

  6. jodi says:

    Lovely post, Kate. I hope it’s warming up, and I’d send you some of our silly weather if it would help. We had freezing rain again all night, then rain. Lowell had to take the axe to the barn door to cut more than two inches of ice off it at the bottom so he could get in a little while ago. Driveway looks like an ice rink! But happily, no ice on trees–this time.

  7. Entangled says:

    Oh my – I feel just like that sometimes. In the middle of the night, when I have too much on my mind and can’t sleep, I mentally tour the garden and almost always relax.

  8. Meg says:

    Kate, I know just how you feel. Last week I was going through photos and saw a batch of our garden in July. I thought, “It looked like that?!” I’m always amazed at how quickly it changes.

  9. lené says:

    Hi Kate,We must be on similiar wavelengths. 🙂 I, too, am longing for spring, for the flowers, and delighted by how those memories of specific plants or encounters bring with them the emotions of the time, the day. I haven’t gardened much, but I experience what you describe with relationships in your garden with the plants in particular wild places I like to walk or paddle. I can remember the condition of lady’s slippers from year to year, and I keep field notes on the dates that each flower blooms. I guess it all comes back to relationship–when we enter one, whether it is with a person, with a garden, with a place we love to walk, we have the pleasures of memory that you speak of. 🙂

  10. Dee/reddirtramblings says:

    Kate, I am so with you. Even though we have sunshine, I just want to scream because everything is brown outside. We had snow again this week, and I thought, oh, here we go again.Then, I read your post. Thank you. You are facing some terrible weather and low temps. I will go out and walk and relieve my stress. I hope you’re able to do something to reduce yours too.~~Dee

  11. Weeping Sore says:

    Kate,I find I’m drawn to garden blogs in New Zealand and Australia this time of year. The gardeners there are enjoying their warm season.I think you’re right about those of us in the Northern Hemisphere: we’re all dreaming of the gardens of yesteryear and planning what we’ll do when the sun returns to our latitudes.

  12. Sparkling Red says:

    Although I have no outdoor garden of my own, I love to walk through my neighbourhood to appreciate the work of those who have transformed their front yards. I miss the sun filtering through leaves, and the colours of flowers. Spring can’t come soon enough for me.

  13. GardenAuthor says:

    Kate – Just wandered over to see what was new and thoroughly enjoyed your garden verse and reminiscences. I, too, am ready for the warmth and promise of a new season. Thanks for mentioning the garden newsletter. Actually, I’ve been writing this one since 2003, but am excited to have a newly revised format… my Mac’s “Pages” program is being put through its paces. Our weather is moderating, with temps in the forties this weekend, here in Massachusetts. Can spring be far behind?Deb Lambert

  14. San says:

    Kate, although I don’t envy your long hard winter, I do envy the amazing variety of flowers you can grow there in your moist and green habitat.Of course, were you transplanted to the high desert of New Mexico, you would undoubtedly bring into being a miraculously beautiful, xeriscaped garden.I too am longing for spring, by the way.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Excellent Post dear Kate – always love waking up in the morning to a new post!!! Keep well bundled up! We’re up to -14 so it feels downright balmy!!! Your neighbor in Alberta…

  16. snappy says:

    Hi Kate, tracking back from your comment to your thoughtful post is cool.I hope in little while you can step back outside with your garden shoes on.My green garden clogs are already in use daily.The green colour is very earthy and they have started to wear to my feets shape.I was reading a book called Digging Deep which had a quote on a chapter about memories.It said “God gave us memorys so we could have Roses in December”.I can remember every garden I have worked in and plants that have gone into the ground.The sights and smells mix with past times and houses. I feel your pang of sadness at leaving the garden in Ottawa with all your plants, shrubs, and trees. Especially wandering how your bulbs were doing! The weather here is nothing as extreme as yours but its good we can read about gardening in many different climates from our own. May Spring come to you soon 🙂

  17. Mr. McGregor's Daughter says:

    After reading your post, I know I should quit whining about this Winter in Chicagoland. I know how hard it is to leave a garden behind. It is almost as if you left a part of yourself there. Lovely post.

  18. Diana says:

    I know what you mean about fretting over plants you’ve left behind. We’ve been in our house 4-1/2 years and I have systematically replaced almost every plant on the property! But I still pine for my previous garden. Our last house is only 10 minutes away, and i drive by sometimes to peek. But I can’t get a glimpse into the back yard and I so want to see my creations and how they are faring — the greenhouse, the cutting garden, the pear trees, you name it. And i can relate to your comment about moving plants — i over planted a bed last Spring and this summer it was lovely but much too overgrown, so I’ve been eyeing it – trying to figure out which of the clusters of dead sticks to remove before they start to bloom and sprout.And then, where to put them?!!

  19. Ruth Welter says:

    Hi Kate, I’m the same way, it feels like forever since I’ve seen my garden, when it is winter time. I sit and wish my plants would come back. The good thing is looking at all the pretty photos you take, I’m like that too. It reminds me my garden will indeed be back.

  20. Giddy says:

    Hi, and thanks for stopping by my blog!I will return here often as you too, are a cold weather gardener. We are a hardy lot, aren’t we!Spring will come again with all the work and beauty we so enjoy.

  21. No Rain says:

    Hi Kate,I’ve noticed others who live in climates similar to yours mention their deep longing for spring. I guess the bitter cold becomes just too much after a few months without a break. But, you sure make up for it in spring!I loved your post, very thought provoking.Aiyana

  22. Alyssa says:

    Kate I really enjoyed your thoughts and feelings about plants and gardeners. Yes, plants do become more than just leaves and flowers – they are living entities with distince personalities and quirks. At least to me. That’s why it is so very difficult to toss out a not-to-be-saved houseplant or pull out a nearly dead perennial. As much as I like gardening, I do enjoy the peacefulness of winter. I don’t think I would appreciate spring and summer without winter. ‘Course that’s just me….

  23. Kerri says:

    This is a beautiful essay of thoughts Kate. Yes, it truly is our memories of the garden that keep us looking forward to the coming spring with such joyful anticipation!I love the Meadowrue! It reminds me of a Japanese Anemone in that same gorgeous shade, and with the same baubles of unopened blooms. I can’t imagine leaving my present garden which I’ve spent 19 years nurturing! At least your previous garden lives on in lovely memories 🙂

  24. Mary says:

    Kate – beautifully written (as usual). I understand your concern for past gardens, wondering if they are in good hands. I still wonder about the flowers and plants I nurtured for 15 years in Maryland. Many of the flowers I planted were gifts… I wonder about the pond there and the pond I loved in Delaware for three years.I understand.

  25. Willow says:

    We don’t need many ‘things’ when we have our memories.I understand the sadness of leaving a garden. I wonder how my Gertrude Jekyll rose is doing, whether the new owners kept the lace cap hydrangea, how the lavender and mallow are growing.Ah well, a new garden for me to create. I hope the old owners don’t mind I pulled out that sedum…

  26. Curtis says:

    Hi Kate, I remember the first garden I created at my parents house. It was my little plot. Most of the plants are still there.

  27. nikkipolani says:

    Loved reading about your plant memories, Kate. I, too, find that stumbling on an old garden photo brings back such good memories. When fall comes and the garden changes, I almost forget what it looked like in spring. And then a photo reminds me. Can’t wait!

  28. grannyfiddler says:

    AH! the plaintive cry of the Great Northern Winterlocked Gardener! that particular song is only heard in the dead of winter, you know – the GNWG’s summer song is nothing like the winter song at all… the summer song is not at all plaintive. it’s not too long before we can start thinking about getting some seedlings going. i usually get my grow op running around St Patrick’s day. that’s a really good excuse to pore over the gorgeous pictures in the seed catalogues and gardening books.

  29. Clare says:

    Hi Kate! I hope Spring hurries over to your neck of the woods. I really loved reading this post about your gardens and how memories of the flowers from near and far stay so warm and vivid. Moose and I hope you and Lytton are having a wonderful weekend. It’s been raining here so much lately and Moose misses his buddies — the dog park is a big mud puddle. I am still working on Moose’s meme — hope to get it together before too long. This next week is busy, so I’m not sure how quickly I can finish it, but we’ll see.:)

  30. Kathie M. Thomas says:

    Thanks for dropping by – so lovely to hear from you. So funny too, that our seasons are the opposite – it’s quite warm here in Melbourne and dry – they keep promising us rain but we don’t get a lot of it.

  31. Matron says:

    Kate, I can’t imagine what those temperatures feel like out there. I am imagining that scene from Charlie Chaplin’s ‘Gold Rush’ when he has run out of food and is eating his boot!

  32. priya says:

    how well you’ve put these feelings for your garden in words. i cannot imagine letting go of a garden. there are some plants that i’ve recently decided to donate to friends because they will be happier with more sunlight rather than in the complete shade of my garden.i also love the poem in your earlier entry. sigh!

  33. GardenJoy4Me says:

    Hi Kate … So true for many of us that have had to move .. Especially military .. I held back my garden bug many times because I knew this “home” was so temporary .. but I remember every little bit I planted at each stop .. funny how your plants attach a string to places that you gather up into a ball .. I have a similar Meadow Rue and it is amazing .. 6 to 7 feet high .. it wows me every year it comes back !Ottawa .. if you can muster a beautiful garden there .. you can anywhere ! LOLJoy

  34. Crafty Gardener says:

    I am certainly dreaming spring and warm days and digging in the dirt, especially after the winter weather we have had this past week in Ontario. The gardening books are coming off the shelves every day now. A gardening magazine arrived in the mail last week and I have probably read it through 5 or 6 times already.

  35. mightymatt1313 says:

    Kate,I use pictures too, to preserve my sanity and recall some of the most peaceful experiences.Matt

  36. GardenAuthor says:

    Kate… I confess, that comment by “Chuck” really hit home and though I did have a salad for lunch, there are corn chips and some serious homemade chili standing by for THE GAME. Meanwhile, the roast beef and baked potato that accompanied the salad will have to do for now… wonder how many calories are utilized in blogging.Anyway, here’s to a 19-0 season! And, Benoit, enjoy those Cheetos! Save a couple for Lytton? My Lucy will have to settle for Milk Bones and raw carrots (she’d eat a whole bag), since she hates corn chips.Lastly, I can’t begin to estimate how many 5# bags of carrots I’ve purchased over the years, keeping the chuck at bay, protecting a dozen tomato plants… not a cost-effective proposition, but I sleep well, knowing that no animals were harmed in the production of my tomatoes-with-basil-and-balsamic vinegar suppers. GO PATS! ………. Deb

  37. Carol says:

    Hi Kate. I’ve left two gardens behind but didn’t feel I’d been at either one long enough to really miss them once I left. Plus, I was always excited about going to the new garden. Blank slate syndrome, I guess.I notice you have are quite highly ranked in Blotanical! I wish I had more time to explore it and find new blogs along the way. It’s a great site for that.Spring will be here before we know it.Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  38. Miranda Bell says:

    Hi Kate – sorry I’ve not been around for a little while – have been over in the UK and since have been laid up with flu! Never mind – bouncing back and dying to get out in my garden and all my clients really as despite continued wet and windy weather here everything is sprouting little by little.I loved your recollections of your first garden – it’s a special time and hard to leave in a way – the only other place I’ve had was before I got married and I’d spend every waking hour outside with as you say all my favorite plants and herbs – being a condsiderably small space compared to here it was easy to fill! But times move on and so do we with new challenges and new rewards too… hope the thaw will come soon for you – in the meantime enjoy everyone’s blogs… take care Miranda

  39. quu says:

    Pictures often holds so much information – what have you done that summer, what plants had special blooming, thing what you have not done. Or special memories of friends that gave plants.. And you don’t need to write every single small bit of information – pictures tell just by looking it 🙂 I take often pictures of those garden spots that aren’t pretty enough and try to plan something nice.And it’s pleasure to watch pidtures here in blogger too :)quu from Finland

  40. Piondröm says:

    Hi Kate!I drop dead the day I mast live my garden and my plants.I cant emagien hove it shall feel.It is as you say,when you looked at you pictures from the past, you remember how you feel on that special moment.I must say that bloging now on the winter makes it easier and you can looked on others garden until the spring comes.Ken

  41. Annie in Austin says:

    Lovely post, Kate – but we’re used to being spoiled by you! Take any chance to post a liverlily photo that comes up ;-] I’ve had to leave several gardens behind and can mentally walk through a couple of them, plant-by-plant… it surprises me to realize that the Illinois garden that was mine from 1987 to 1999 is more vivid than the more recent first Austin garden which we owned from summer 1999 to summer 2004…maybe I needed winter resting time to get a garden into my memory bank? If you run out of garden blogs you can read the Divas of the Dirt Diary for 2007 – I finally got it posted. Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  42. Christine says:

    Whenever I get grumbly about the weather in my neck of the woods, this post will remind me what REAL winter weather is about. Then maybe I won’t feel so bad.I love the photos here – they’re a breath of fresh Spring air.

  43. kris says:

    Hi Kate – lovely post. I’m very ready for spring and time in the garden too. I’ve been looking back at photos from last summer and remembering the joys of gardening. Can’t wait to get my hands in the dirt again!Your amaryllis is beautiful. And thanks for posting about Blotanical – I’m going to check that out. (as soon as I catch up with my regularly scheduled blog visits!!) Loved Lytton’s meme!

  44. Rosehaven Cottage says:

    Yes, Kate, the gardener does have a keenly accurate memory when it comes to what was planted where.I went out today in our front garden and found some viola volunteers around the bed I’d planted some sorbet violas in last spring about this time (spring comes early around here). I knew exactly what they were at first sight!I’ll have to post some photos of the hyacinth sprouts coming up in the dark rich soil so you can get a little taste of spring.Sending a little spring your way,Cindy at Rosehaven Cottag

  45. gracia says:

    Lovely, Kate, just lovely. Echoing those before me, thank you for sharing such spring-warm garden memories.take care,g xo

  46. Pam says:

    I, too, have a fierce need for spring! Besides the snow, it has been exceptionally gray here, almost oppressive. I ache for the change of seasons by this time every year, but this year seems worse for some reason. Thank you for your bright pictures!

  47. EdenMaker says:

    Beautiful and wonderful musings that I believe all true gardeners can relate to. I’m in the sun all the time in California, but you transported me to your plot in an area thats a bit colder and the gardeners more patient than where I’m from.Shirley

  48. Kalyan says:

    lovely photos…nice reading your description too…I agree with your thoughts which you have crafted beautifully!

  49. Knitting Mania says:

    First time stopping by your blog site, really enjoyed it….I’m moving to MT in the Spring and I will have many new challenges with our short growing season…I’ve been down here in CA for 20 years where everything grows well…I really enjoyed your “Knitting Uninterupted” post….I’m crazy for knitting too, love to knit and felt purses, check out my blog if you have time….Great site!!!!

  50. Shady Gardener says:

    Kate,Your post spoke to me when you wrote about the feelings and the memories we have about certain plants, etc. I’ve left a couple of gardens behind. Most recently (5 years ago) I left a 23 year old bed behind. It was a little hard, but I was allowed to take portions of many plants with me. Couple that with looking forward to a whole new gardening experience in this site… helped a lot! 😉

  51. James A-S says:

    Hi Kate: Thank you for visiting my blog. I thought it polite to return the compliment and was thrilled to come face to face with Thalictrum rochebruneanum. A plant I have always loved and consider to be an archangel among plants.At the moment in England we are complaining about the cold: it is 4 degrees centigrade. After reading other peoples comments it seems more than a little wimpy so I will try and refrain from further moaning.Still, in the words of Tom Lehrer:”Spring is here, suh-puh-ring is here.Life is skittles, and life is beer…..”(If not exactly ‘here’ then very definitely on its way.)

  52. The Giraffe Head Tree says:

    “54 Comments!” Holy cow! Photography is a miracle. Capturing the reality of spring and viewing it again and again during the doldrums of winter is nothing short of a miracle. I can smell the grass and fragrance of each blossom through yours and everyone’s photographs. Thanks for sharing and stay warm up there, ya hear? xo – Debi

  53. heirloomgardener says:

    Thanks for your post. I’ve been working on my garden for seven years and everytime I dream of moving to a larger or flatter property, the thought of leaving this garden behind is daunting. As it relates to reading others’ blogs, I share your feelings.

  54. nina says:

    Yes, even when we moved here, in addition to the contents of the house–I attempted to transplant my garden–many pieces from my “home” garden, that connect me to my youth.When they struggle in this warmer environment, I, too struggle.

  55. Ki says:

    Thanks for the Spring pick me up. The photos of the hepatica and meadow rue are breath taking. Lovely simply lovely.

  56. Susan says:

    Kate…thanks for vising my blog and leaving a comment. I enjoyed browsing through your blog and reading some of your posts. You are good at creating a visual picture in the reader’s mind with your writing style. I look forward to returning, and hope you will check in on my blog once in awhile.

  57. Ewa says:

    This must be a thrilling experience to leave your garden for ever… I can not imagine that, but I guess, that I would see it in my dreams..

  58. Lisa Mertins illustration says:

    oh kate, your post makes me feel so guilty about my bountiful good weather and gardening opportunities. here i am working round the clock INSIDE. i remember when i first became a gardener while we were living in minnesota briefly. i vowed to never take california gardening for granted when we returned here. in honor of you, i will take some time this weekend and get my hands dirty 🙂

  59. healingmagichands says:

    I left behind my first real garden when I moved from San Francisco. It was a heart wrench for sure. The worst thing was going back to visit it after I had been gone a year. I learned: Never never never go back. Not unless you are positive that your creation has been cared for the way it should have been. My beautiful Eden had been utterly destroyed by neglect and mischievous friends of the person who had promised to take care of it. It still breaks my heart 21 years later to think of how that garden was treated.Spring will come again, Kate!

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