this is November

Dig, dig, dig.  Plant, plant, plant.  Actual flower count at five months since starting-zero.  Well, three if you count those that bloomed on the rosebushes before we planted them and cut them back.  And of course we do count them, cooing over each one as though we'd grown it ourselves, cutting it and carrying it inside to put in a vase in the bathroom and stare at for a week until all the petals drop off onto the counter.  Soon there will be buckets of flowers, too many to love each one so much. 

Planting, and the waiting that comes next, is showing me how patient I am not.  After hauling wheelbarrows of compost until my arms ache, I stand in the middle of the sea of black landscape fabric and fret about there not being any flowers.  Thousands of plants so far, but no flowers.  Months' worth of work, and no flowers.  I know in a theoretical way that there will be an avalanche of flowers in the spring, a steady stream of flowers until frost, but not having seen it, it's taking an awful degree of faith to keep planting.

My baby girl turns five (!) this week.  She is as enthusiastic a gardener as ever there was.  When we dug the first hole and put in the first gnarled peony root, she heaved a satisfied sigh and said, "Now we are farmers."  She is the self-appointed "peony master", (or daffodil master, seed master, etc.) her job being to gently disentangle a peony root from its sisters in the bag, brush off the peat moss, and hand it to me to put in the hole.  She takes her job seriously, and comes running to take up her post whenever I haul something out to be planted.  

Four big boxes of daffodil bulbs appeared outside the garage door this week.  I, knowing what they would become, opened and was exulting over them when the peony master came around the corner.  She was excited because I was excited, but when I showed her the brown bulbs I was so thrilled about she was baffled.  "Huh," she said, "onions."  Ah, but these onions...it'll be easier to explain in spring.

The only place the flowers that'll come from these onions exist now is in my head and on my Pinterest daffodil board, which is here if you'd like to see them.  For that matter, here are all of my boards, many of which are lists for the various plots in our flower field.  There are the rose beds, the dahlia selection, the peony plan.  Our whole garden, blooming only on Pinterest. 

There were a couple of light frosts in October, and only just this weekend was there the hard glittery frost of real autumn.  We bundle up and trudge out to dig new beds, only to throw off our jackets and scarves after 15 minutes of work.  "Can you believe this?" we shout at each other across the field, "This is November!"  Inside we're each thinking of the job we didn't take in Rhode Island.  Beautiful working weather, this. 

I'm having a fun time sourcing plant material.  Each time I think, time to order (phlox/alliums/dahlias) I think it'll be simple, I'll just order some.  But every flower opens up a door and there's a full-on party going on for each kind of plant.  There are varieties and shapes and colors and heights and each one has its fans and haters and specialty nurseries and websites devoted just to it.  We love phlox!  Dahlias are our specialty!  I feel like such a latecomer.  But I'm a latecomer who's fast getting an education. 

I'm also having to triangulate to figure out planting times and varieties for upstate South Carolina.  Vegetable information you can have buckets of, but flowers aren't such a well-peopled field, and I'm hanging on the advice of a handful of experts.  But, I think as I read, she's in Kansas.  She's in Washington state.  They're at Louisiana State.  What does this mean for South Carolina?  So we use the best available information, make a good guess, keep lots of notes for next year, and plunge in.  

Sweet peas are up, standing in rows like little 4" tall soldiers.  Snapdragons, icelandic poppies, and pinks are all set into their homes for the winter.  We're halfway to our goal of 60 beds by March.  This week anemones and ranunculus should come, getting in line to be planted and believed in until spring.  I made a calculating error and ordered twice as many as I meant to.  I'm sure the ranunculus master will be thrilled.  

~E~