Prospect Gardens Summer Time

Prospect Gardens Summer Time
Summer Scene

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Resting and Waiting for Snow

Last week Ann and I finished preparing Prospect Gardens for the winter. The Gardens are now resting and waiting for a blanket of snow. Here is Sara Teasdate's poem about rest and the coming winter, followed by nine pictures.


There will be rest, and sure stars shining
 Over the roof-tops crowned with snow,
A reign of rest, serene forgetting,
The music of stillness holy and low.
I will make this world of my devising
 Out of a dream in my lonely mind.
I shall find the crystal of peace, – above me
Stars I shall find.

 Several years ago, I received this ornament from a nephew's wife .  In the background are hostas, covered by a carpet of fallen leaves. Recent frosts have changed the golden -green colors to light brown.

The sun was bright and the sky was blue while Ann and I worked with temperatures in the low 40s. A near perfect day for tending the gardens.

Here's a sunny corner with blue stem grasses. We left them intact, anticipating that seeds will disperse to other areas of the Gardens and we will have more of this purple-tinted grass.  
The butterfly house, a gift from our daughter, Emily, now is in the open. Rudbeckia that once hid the house are gone. The house's vibrant yellows have faded after years of being exposed to the elements. Another marker of time passing.

I considered putting the house, for the winter, in the old storage shed near the Gardens where the tools are stored. I gave up after the pole didn't yield after several tugs.  
One of two cherry trees now bare and patiently waiting for the snows of winter. We lost one cherry tree earlier this season. I am learning that cherry trees require more attention and care than I realized when we planted them. So far I have not heeded those lessons. Maybe next spring I will. Yet, I am reluctant to use chemicals.
The rocks are now exposed in this section of the Garden. We left some of the Purple Cone flowers, hoping they would spread. Birds like the seeds.
Here's a good shot of the dried Purple Cones. Notice the dark section of the newly resurfaced commuter path, laid a few weeks ago. Oh... another indicator of time passing and to be exact, sixteen years since the path opened in 2001.

Another picture of the hosta garden. If you look closely on the left side of the picture you will find a mobile. I intend to create another mobile for the left side of the double hook. The parts for the mobile lay on my desk.  Perhaps sometime this winter I will assemble a new mobile, if the spirits so move me. Although the priority is culling years of slides tugged away in the closet. I am not looking forward to that project.
I like to think that this old blue bowling ball represents Earth as seen from space. In June, NASA reported that "we are not alone" as it revealed 10 new Earth-like planets which could sustain life. Now we face challenges of sustaining life here on Earth as we experience climate change.
Once again the orange plastic snow fences are in place. These should prevent the city snow plowing crews from pushing snow into the Gardens. So far it has worked.

Another gardening season ends. A special thank you to those who volunteered. May they and you find rest and peace.


Sunday, October 29, 2017

Dancing In the Wind

 Today, October 28th, with the wind and with temperatures in the high 30s, my wife, Ann, four neighbors and I prepared Prospect Gardens for the rigors of winter. Today's experience reminded me of the following poem.  Kelly, our First Unitarian Community Life Minister, included the poem in a course for parents about spirituality that she and I lead.  After reading the poem, take a few minutes to reflect on the question it raises.
Dancing in the Wind by Rev. David Bumbaugh

Except for a few stubborn holdouts
the tree outside my window
is bare of leaves.
The wind, this October morning,
worries those few remaining leaves,
pulling them this way,
twisting them that way,
tugging at them until,
one by one,
exhausted by the ceaseless effort
to hang on,
they go dancing with the wind.

As they waltz past my window,
the stubbornness has left them
and they are finally free.

What is it about living things
that we expend so much energy
resisting the inevitable,
hanging on to that which is already gone,
hoping to sustain a season into times
that are unseasonable,
clinging to old habits
despite the pain and discomfort?

Why are we so afraid to dance in the wind?

Gardening at Prospect Gardens continues to raise questions of life for me. Today's session reminded me of my aging body as I hacked away at the dried out, brown six foot tall Rudbeckia that when planted were marketed as maturing to no more than four feet tall. Ah... the unpredictability of life and gardening. As the poem implies, one must learn how to dance with this unpredictability, let go and I would add, enjoy the dance to the extent possible. 

With this aside, enjoy the following seven pictures from today's Prospect Gardens dance.

 A section of the Gardens before we begin. Note the extent of green. Tonight, frost is predicted and I welcome and embrace this change. Our apartment, with south and west windows, makes a cozy refuge from the rigors of winter.  I will continue to enjoy this Fall season of transition, while anticipating the first snow fall.

 Here are remnants of those tall Rudbackia that I previously mentioned. Many still remain on the upper levels on the Regent side of the Gardens, waiting to be removed. Perhaps next week, we will get at them.

 The large pile of plant material. A testimony of our work and the lushness of the season's Gardens. It's been a great season for flowers and of course, weeds.  Last Wednesday, the city disconnected our water supply from the nearby fire hydrant. The water bill will be minimal because of the abundant rain this season. The two neighborhood associations who pay the bill will be happy.

 Loren joined us for awhile. Thanks for pitching in. He donated two clippers after discovering he had three of each in his garage. We will put them to good use. Thanks, Loren, for this too.

 Here's Ann N. all bundled up and pausing from her labors. Thanks, Ann, for joining the crew on this blustery day. 
Recall that last Saturday, we were basking in 70 degree weather.  Ann and I hosted another UW Homecoming celebration, the 31st year.   Once again my two brothers and their wives,  a couple that I have known for years, and a long-time friend and his girlfriend gathered. We celebrated our lives and connections to the university.  This year Ann and I went to the game. Its been a long time since we last attended. While I enjoyed the ritual, the noise level was so high, that I removed my hearing aids; another indicator of time passing.

Joyce and Laura posing with tools in hand. They were working the section in the first picture of this series. Thanks for coming out on a chilly day and once again contributing to maintaining the Gardens.

Here's Laura, Joyce and Ann N. taking a break and enjoying poppy seed cake with peach preserve. Ann, my wife, once again made the treat. She makes sure that we all take a break. I sometime forget about the passing of time.

As 3:30 pm approached, we gathered up the tools and I hauled them to the old shed bordering the Gardens. The shed, like me, has aged. It's been there for many years, long before the railroad tracks were transformed into the commuter path, now enjoyed by so many Madisonians. 

Before putting the tools away, I pulled out the orange plastic snow fence, making it more accessible. Installing the fences is yet another task before the Gardens experience winter. 

Got home and after checking email I jumped into the shower. The hot water felt so pleasant as it washed some of the aches from this body. 

The eighth season of gardening is fast coming to an end. I do not obsess about the day when gardening for me will end. Heeding the poem's message, I will let this cycle of life end without resistance and stubbornness.  The dance in the winds of life will continue.