Friday, February 24, 2012
Like many other places in North America, winter as we usually experience it never quite arrived in Halifax this year. Yes, it's often been very cold but there was little snow and none of it lasted on the ground longer than a few days. Now that I know spring is lurking out there somewhere I've been doing my usual pining for a garden to plant things in. Living in an apartment isn't generally conducive to the cultivation of outdoor plants as an experience I had while living in Portland will testify. The dining area of that particular flat had some very large windows with enough hardware left by previous tenants that allowed me to hang up some extra shelves. Instead of filling those windows with the usual indoorsy plants, that year I brought home several boxes of young geraniums and marigolds that I planted in pots. Within a few weeks I had a fabulous display of flowers but hadn't reckoned on just how smelly those outdoor blooms would make our home.. especially when you have more than twenty of them. They had to go long before their intended time.
Anyway, that winter we got lucky - if you can call it being lucky when a new landlord decides to renovate the building, including your apartment, while you're still living there. The luck was in having a very fine townhouse nearby come unexpectedly available, which gave me (for the first time) a balcony not too high above the ground facing east. I spent the rest of the winter planning a garden. Winters in the Pacific NW don't last all that long so we were soon visiting one of the big nurseries where I swooned over the pictures of the flowers fastened on the bare root rose bushes and tried to figure out just how a large a bamboo would fit the space along with a small tree and several pots of pampas grass. I got a bit carried away that year - the roses were gorgeous at first but eventually blighted, the bamboo died, and the pampas grass went into attack mode whenever we passed it.
Then came the day we saw a hummingbird and for the following six summers that garden was dedicated to our delight in seeing them. They seemed to enjoy examining us as well but it wasn't until late autumn one year that I caught the perfect picture. Several months later an eviction notice was delivered by new owners planning a condominium conversion and that was that for the garden.
I still think of gardening and all the people like me who simply have no access to seeing a little piece of Nature's magic unfold day by day. Just a few days ago I came across an article about the Beacon Food Forest project that has received the go ahead to plant Seattle's first permaculture garden in a city park. This spring a seven acre plot of land will be planted with hundreds of different kinds of edibles: walnut and chestnut trees; blueberry and raspberry bushes; fruit trees; herbs; and more. It will be perennial and self-sustaining. Best of all, anyone who walks through will be free to take anything they want.
I'm guessing there may well be some happy hummingbirds living there too.