Sunday, March 3, 2013

have patience, they say


By the time March was approaching I started getting very impatient for the arrival of Spring. Today, yesterday and, again, tomorrow the skies have been, are, and will be overcast and uniformly gray. Sometimes it snows a bit or rains for a while - but not with the conviction of winter storms or summer thundershowers. It's just kind of blah. Walking isn't unpleasant unless I focus too much on the mountainous drifts of dirty ice left by the plows after the last big storm. Stepping off the sidewalk either in town or in the park is treacherous because underneath that lumpy surface is wet ice over  a muddy base. In the early part of winter people were eager to clear their sidewalks but everyone has grown bored with the exercise these past weeks. Spring is on the way and we long for green.

Our balcony, like most in Halifax, isn't one of those where you can sit in comfort inside and gaze out at through sliding glass doors and low-silled windows; instead, there's a solid door and windows you have to stand up to look out. Sky, yes, which is fine, but flowers, no, unless you go outside. My original plan was to plant a tree, that is, until I remembered my history of moving every couple of years, inevitable for one reason or another when you live in rentals. Trees indicate permanence and I'm just not ready to commit to a tree of my own.. not one in a pot, even a pot with wheels. Besides that, having witnessed the sheer ferocity of winter in these parts, I'm not sure a poor sapling would survive. My idea of fun doesn't include standing out in a blizzard holding down a tree.


I'd actually put off the idea of a balcony garden altogether until I found myself standing in front of a rack of seed packages at a local store. Have you noticed how so many of those places pull that trick near winter's end? As I stood there enthralled by pictures of flowers I picked up one packet after another reading promises of butterflies and hummingbirds sure to arrive in my garden come summer. Summer. Ahhh. I carried home two packets of vine seeds along with the groceries, seeds that will sprout fast into tall vines I'll be able to see from my couch and through the window next to my drawing table.


I've heard rumors that ruby throated hummingbirds come to Nova Scotia. In Portland we had a balcony garden for eight summers that was devoted to hummingbirds. I'd love to see some here. All I need now are a few decent sized pots, some poles, string, and dirt - lots of dirt. It's surprising just how much dirt it takes to fill an outdoor pot. I'm still thinking it over but the idea of looking up from a painting to see a hummingbird peeking in again sounds wonderful.

Next weekend we turn the clocks forward.
Happy Almost Spring.

26 comments:

jams o donnell said...

Oh how I wish we had hummingbirds here in the UK

gfid said...

I recently had a birthday, and a friend gave me a gift certificate for Canadian Tire. Then yesterday she took me to a local truck stop for the best breakfast in town, then to CT to spend my gift. I spent it ALL on seeds. On my next trip to MH I'll bring my grow op and begin prepping the lovely south facing porch for Operation Green Babies. Cosmos and Runner Beans and Tomatos, oh my! Happy almost spring!!

marja-leena said...

Have my seed catalogue open with plans for tomatoes and peppers and herbs to start for the hot sunny deck as every year. I may order a flower or two though I've lots of rooted cuttings of pelargoniums. I buy certain bedding plants like impatiens for shady spots. Today was our first clear warm sunny day, so wonderful after the Pineapple Express swept through! It inspires to think of gardening, doesn't it?!

I remember that beautiful balcony garden photo! You obviously have a green thumb. Good luck with a new one in your new home!

susan said...

I'm sorry you don't. I hadn't realized hummingbirds aren't found in Europe. From what I've just read it appears they'd love England in the summer but because they're programmed for a specific day/night cycle their southern migration route would take them to the Sahara.

susan said...

Best Belated Birthday Wishes to you, my friend! What happy and useful gifts you got that day - a fine breakfast and a trip to CT with your gift certificate. The garden you're planning for MH is going to be a real delight and I bet you already have trees there. I wonder if hummers find their way that far north in summer? I'm sure butterflies do. May their flutters bring you delight (and a chase for Maestro).

susan said...

Yes, seed catalogs are such a relief for tired eyes and senses, aren't they? Do you really grow tomatoes from seeds? I've only ever known them to be grown from small plants. I've seen pictures of some of your beautiful geraniums and impatiens are such delicate flowers. My mother, who had a big garden in S. Ontario, was always sad she couldn't grow sweetpeas but compensated with magnificent tuberous begonias.

I have more pictures of that balcony but only ever scanned a few. I don't expect I'll try that level of gardening here but who knows what will happen? I do love it.

Gina Duarte said...

It makes me happy that you're going to grow things now that you have more permanent digs. No pun intended. ;-)

We see hummingbirds (Wayne loves them) but interestingly, they don't come to the back yard where all the flowers are - at least not that I've seen. They hover around the space that is our view of the river. Perhaps they enjoy that view as much as we do.

Randal Graves said...

I won't lie, the promise of fresh veggies and such from the dirt is a nice thought, but dammit, I like mopey grey skies. When I was a wee lad, I'd pore through my grandpa's Burpee catalog. He and my grandma knew how to plant, but their stuff was never as large and colorful as the pre-photoshop photoshopped shots on the glossy pages.

Ol'Buzzard said...

Here in Maine we keep getting hit by back to back snow storms and then we send them up to you. Sorry about that. i also am getting spring fever - motorcycle fever - but need to get rid of three foot snow banks along our road and the solid ice covering.
Your garden was beautiful..
the Ol'Buzzard

gfid said...

we do indeed get hummers here! lovely little blue/green/purple blurs who used to feast on my delphiniums and maltese cross and hollyhocks in the old churchyard garden..... guess what's on the top of the list of permanent horticultural residents for MH? i didn't think we got them until one buzzed me one day. i thought it was a huge bluebottle fly, but when i mentioned it to a neighbor, she told me it was a hummer.... and they came regularly after that (possibly before, but unnoticed) i think they go as far north as the Yukon and Alaska! We also get a lot of beautiful flutterbys. one year the Swallowtails seemed to choose my greenhouse as the place to spend their last hours after laying their eggs. they dried out perfectly in the heat of the greenhouse, and my boys decorated the house with them. one 'lived' a couple of years fastened to a native cactus we'd brought home and potted inside.

susan said...

It's good to know they fly so far north. The first I ever saw were two of them one morning when I stepped outside a little summer cottage on the BC coast wearing a bright red shirt. They buzzed my shoulders until they realized I wasn't a giant flower and flew away. When the first ones came to the balcony in Portland we thought the same as you did, that it was some huge insect. We only had a few nectar flowers but they kept returning to them so the next year and afterwards I only planted ones they'd like. Fuchsia were a big hit but I know there are many more besides that attract them.

That must have been quite something having so many Swallowtails arriving all at once. I hope their eggs hatched okay the following summer. Wow, what a sight.

susan said...

It would be nice to have more outside room but it will still be very sweet having even a small garden. Yes, this place is quite nice - I just wish we'd found it sooner. Relaxing in that other place was impossible.

It sounds like the hummingbirds who come to your place have very good taste in scenery. It's funny that they never came to my mother's garden until she planted columbines and I never knew what flowers they do like until we had that balcony garden.

susan said...

Snow and cold weather don't bother me except when it's too nasty to go outside but I really don't like too many dismal sky days in a row, which is what we've had for nearly two weeks straight.

My Grandfather grew amazing gardens of flowers and vegies too but that was in England where such things are more possible. You're right a lot of the glossy garden pictures aren't real.

susan said...

Thanks. What goes around still comes around, I guess. I remember friends in the US blaming bad weather on Canada while giving me significant looks. I'd just tell them it would be worse if the country wasn't there to bear the brunt. It looks like better days are coming in so I wish you well in getting the bike back on dry roads.

I still miss having that garden. The building was sold to condo developers but, thankfully, we were evicted in winter.

Lindsay Byrnes said...

Hi Susan
Lovely work
Susan’s gift, wrapped in color,
erudite words; icicles draped in ecstasy,
Contemplate life's endless streams.

Like joyous rain, a raging storm.
Awaken my feelings of a new dawn,
Refreshed.
B/ wishes


gfid said...

ain't summer grand?! can't wait. we also get something called a hummingbird moth, not brightly colored, but with transparent wings that it beats very quickly, and a body shaped like a hummer, right down to the long, sloping flower-probing proboscis.

susan said...

How very nice to see you've been well enough to come by for a visit, Lindsay. Your poem is a beauty and a blessing on the day. After ten days of gray skies, rain and snow, tomorrow's forecast calls for sunshine.

Many thanks and very best wishes to you always.

susan said...

Yes, summer is indeed grand but in some ways the promise of spring is even better. Strangely enough, it was just a few days ago I saw pictures of hummingbird moths for the very first time. How cool.

linda said...

hello my dear friend...this morning I am practicing typing on iPad.. in bed today with diverticulitis ...ugh. made it thru without antibiotics so far! and cat scan I can't afford.....

I too am dreaming and think some are just programmed since I think I could grow tropical fruit in my cy. I must have 2 doz. lemons on those 2 little trees. so certainly think your should grow your vines so you can SEE them.

linda said...

ipad died there... here experts said bluebirds had disappeared from the mountain so I started putting feeders out and a decade later I see them ALL the time out all my windows! they don't even leave for winter but they're not the brightest bulbs in the box. still I love them. my hammers are here all year too but shouldn't be ..iPad decided it can't go fix my hammer error that should read HUMMERS! guess time to stop. you and gfid got me today, lucky girls you! and guess blogger is working today! YAY for that too! much love to you! xox

okjimm said...

Impatiens are my favorite flower, if there is a such. The Winter this years just trudges on.....a few inches of snow last night....but it is not expect to warm much....38-42 F....and we have PILES of snow to get rid of. SICK of this....actively looking for someone to blame. Must be the Pope, huh, and that is why he quit!

susan said...

Hi Linda. How nice to see you've been well enough to do a little visiting even though it does sound as if you're still pretty low. I was going to say sick as a dog but after Bella's 'incident' today you probably don't want to be reminded.

Yes, I'm going to grow the vines where I can see them. I've even decided that, rather than poles and string, I'm going to collect fallen branches that I'll attach to the balcony rails and see if they'll climb up those. Then I might get an effect that almost looks like trees.

Wish me luck.
xoxox

susan said...

Sorry about your ipad. It's really neat that you brought the bluebirds back to your mountain all by yourself. I don't think I've ever seen one. In Portland, we had Anna's hummingbirds that stayed year round - they're a breed that doesn't migrate at all. It was a problem keeping their nectar warm in winter when we had to go to work but we did our best.

I'm delighted you came by.
xoxo

susan said...

Impatiens are very pretty, I agree, but I'd even admire a dandelion right now. Yeah, winter is still dragging on in these parts as well. You mean we don't get to blame the weather man anymore?

Lydia said...

In love with your Portland balcony garden, I am! Yes, you must do a Canadian balcony garden and it looks like you selected some fine seeds. I had to laugh about your comment regarding the amount of necessary soil, as I have in the past usually underestimated that. Haven't bought any seeds (still hoping M will get that garden area I selected last year in order....right now there are huge slabs of concrete in varying heights of stacking and it is a project beyond what I can tackle), but I did buy a small Daphne bush last week. I have been power walking again and the scent of Daphne in neighbors' yards has stopped me dead in my tracks to pull the flavor into my brain. When I plant it I will think of you, and definitely will think of you each day when I see our hummingbirds (those Annas stay all winter if fed, which we dutifully do).

susan said...

It was beautiful out there and the picture shows less than half of it. I don't expect to get another quite so spacious, nor with the view of Mt. Hood, but I'll do what I can. Yes, it's amazing just how much soil it takes, isn't it?

I loved Daphne. The flowers are so tiny yet amazingly fragrant. I remembered smelling their scent one spring but had no idea what it was until a young friend brought me a sprig. Please do think of me when you plant your new bush, and yes, say hello to the Annas for me too. During the coldest parts of winter we'd put out a feeder in the morning and then I'd come home from work and put out a fresh one. It was a pleasure keeping them happy.