Being up in Canada visiting family reminds me that we Bay Area gardeners enjoy a gardening experience unlike most of North America. That is, to garden year round if we so choose. As I drove up through Idaho and saw the roadside nurseries, some were already making preparations to close for the winter. While I appreciate having my garden as company in December and January, there is something to be said for having a period of rest, of allowing Nature to throw a blanket over the land during the winter. Seeds having fallen to the ground will wait for spring rains and warmth; perennials likewise lay low and wait for their horticultural clocks to wake them up at just the right time. At no time have these natural triggers been more in evidence than in 2011, when our crazy weather has caused havoc with vegetable and flower gardens alike. Boundaries between spring and summer and between summer and fall were blurred, if not dismissed altogether.
And yet plants will find a way no matter what we throw at them in the way of obstacles. Bulbs still bloomed; perennials returned, if perhaps not as vigorous; some plants waited out the cool, wet spring and bloomed a month or two later. And now certain deciduous trees and shrubs are losing their leaves earlier than usual. As usual, we gardeners roll with the flow, making our mental notes as to what's taking place. Our gardens certainly show the benefits of our attention, the composting and the pruning and the feeding. And yet, one of the maddening yet rewarding aspects of gardening is that Mother Nature is so much more in control of what happens and surrendering to this can be a wonderful lesson. And I find that for every disappointment (a plant's poor performance) there are many wonderful surprises -- plants mysteriously reviving themselves, plants rebounding after a poor year, plants bucking the dismal weather to put on a magnificent show. I'm learning to appreciate it all and to realize I can't make it perfect, don't want to make it perfect. Commune and enjoy.