1994 was the year I caught the gardening bug big-time and found my life changed in exciting ways. It was all just SO COOL – until the following winter, when I found myself totally bereft. From then on, winters have meant me not only a touch of the aptly acronymed SAD; they’ve brought withdrawal symptoms and the quest for something to do with my spare time that I could do.
The solution that first winter was the discovery of gardening magazines, which I devoured for their inspiring photos spreads, their plant ideas, their how-to’s. Hell, I loved them cover to cover. I even indulged my new addiction by ordering every issue of Fine Gardening ever published and devouring them, too. Subscriptions to Garden Design and Horticulture soon followed, though without the compulsive back-issue-collecting.
But garden magazines have done more for me than just get me through the winter; they’ve
been the single greatest source of my gardening education and I can’t
imagine how else I could have learned most of what I know. And it took
a survey that Stuart recently conducted – "What gardening magazines do
you read?" – and the amazing answers – basically "None" – to make me realize
their importance to me. People, why not? And if not, how have you learned to garden? Seriously – enlighten me!
MORE WINTER SUBSTITUTES
Having exhausted back issues of Fine Gardening that first winter, I’ve since tried lots of other winter survival tactics. There was the year I collected catalogues and obsessed over my orders. There were experiments with seed-starting, a form of gardening I found both high-maintenance and low-satisfaction. More recently I’ve tried dried flower arranging, with some nice results. I’ve enjoyed repairing and painting the old birdhouses a prior owner made back in the ’50s. Last year I painted the concrete leaf impressions and pavers I’d made the summer before. And after reading responses to yesterday’s post about houseplants, especially the suggestions for more exciting plants than the usual philodendrons, there might even come a frigid day when I give them a try.
But really, what’s become my primary gardening substitute in winter is very simple – strolling in the garden and walking in the woods. Because gardening is just as much about being outdoors IN NATURE as it is manipulating natural elements like dirt and plants. It’s being in nature that keeps me sane more than anything, and it’s awfully beautiful out there with a blanket of snow, you know. Now maybe if we haven’t yet screwed up our planet irrevocably, the temperatures will drop, snow will fall, and I’ll walk down this path, camera in hand.