Never Enough Time

March 4, 2013 at 9:00 am 3 comments

Chestnut Hill Gardens, Litchfield, Connecticut, 2010. Collection of the Archives of American Gardens.

Chestnut Hill Gardens, Litchfield, Connecticut, 2010. Collection of the Archives of American Gardens.

I am waiting – waiting patiently for blustery, winter weather to begin. Gardening books are neatly stacked by the couch, magazines are piled by the bed and I have even book marked several websites to explore. I have a folder of plant lists I collected during symposiums and lectures I attended. I want to research the plants that caught my eye and determine if they are as outstanding as promised or just a one shot pretty-boy? I bought a packet of graph paper, colored pencils and an architect’s ruler; I am ready to draw a detailed design for my backyard redo. I wanted to do all these jobs this summer, but I never seemed to have enough time. So, the books piled up, the websites were left unexplored and the plants are sitting in pots waiting for me to draw a proper design.

Oh, I accomplished a lot this summer – every day was filled with weeding sessions, I developed numerous lectures, and occasionally I even read sections of chosen books. But there was never enough time to be as organized or thorough as I wanted to be. I cut corners everywhere. I installed plants without researching growth habits, let weeds go to seed, missed the second pruning of the espaliered fruit trees and sometimes the lectures I gave were not as snazzy as I wanted them to be.

But during the busy growing season I didn’t despair – at least not too much. I knew disagreeable winter weather would eventually come and I would be forced to stay inside. As the wind howled and the temperatures dropped outside, I would bundle in a blanket and take the time to read, research and draw.

Winston Garden, Far Hills, New Jersey, circa 1965. Collection of the Archives of American Gardens.

Winston Garden, Far Hills, New Jersey, circa 1965. Collection of the Archives of American Gardens.

Okay, winter is here! Now I’ll stay inside and start one of those saved projects. Although, I hope I have more diligence than I did last year. Every time I would sit down to read a book my dog would prod and whine and try to convince me that the weather really wasn’t all that bad. Couldn’t we please go take a walk? So I would put the book down and brave the cold weather. Another day I’d go outside to take measurements for the garden’s new design and notice all the winter weeds. The tape measure would slide back into my pocket and I would spend the afternoon pulling weeds in the brisk air. If I sat at the computer to do some cyber-surfing, I would remember all the outdoor chores that just could not wait for another day.

Do you notice a trend? The piles of books that I never have time to read didn’t accumulate overnight. I really do want to read them, but they sit undisturbed (or barely ruffled) because no matter what the weather is like I would rather be outside than inside. That’s probably why I am a gardener instead of a movie star (okay, maybe there are a couple of other reasons). Writing deadlines keep me in, pouring rain keeps me in – but for the most part, you’ll find me outside; playing in the dirt, walking the dog or drinking a glass of wine and staring at the garden beds imagining what could be.

Sometimes I feel guilty ignoring my indoor activities, but I really shouldn’t. I may not be reading about other people’s gardening experiences, but I am accumulating plenty of my own. The winter walks may keep me away from the computer, but they help me notice nature’s nuances. I become a more sensitive gardener when I am aware of the subtleties that unfold throughout the seasons. When I sit on the deck relaxing with a glass of wine, I may not be physically sketching ideas, but I am daydreaming, developing my “perfect” garden design – no eraser needed.

So I am not totally resigned from completing my noble plans; I’ll keep stacking books, piling magazines and book marking websites. I don’t think my behavior will change this year, but who knows? In the meantime, I’ll keep waiting for a string of bad weather.

See you in the garden -maybe even if it is raining.

-Cynthia Brown, Horticulture Collections Management & Education Manager

Entry filed under: Horticulture. Tags: .

The American Bottle Tree Hellebores: Jewels of Winter, Part I

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Susan Bruns  |  May 24, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    It took a cold day in late spring and a review of saved emails to read this, but I did and it is wonderful. I am so pleased to be back in the Haupt Garden admiring it’s beauty…while at home my own garden longs for attention. You almost make me pine for winter and plans for the day I have right in front of me!!! Thanks for reminding me to GET BUSY !!!
    Susan Bruns

  • 2. Bzebza  |  March 4, 2013 at 11:14 am

    It would be great if you could take part in my Fences Project (bzebza dot net)

  • 3. Jane Simpson  |  March 4, 2013 at 9:58 am

    Cindy, this is so good! I really like it. Jane


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