Early Morning Haze

Plans for a quick trip to the park late last week started like a childhood poem; It was a terrible, horrible no good very bad day .... well that may be a slight over dramatic dramatization but the other morning, it felt spot on. My computer was acting wonky, the 't' key kept falling off, I couldn't find my keys, the coffee I ordered on the way to the park was missing its cream. Yes, I know these are all oh so trivial, but it was rather annoying. 

I really wanted to walk around the gardens, but the park was veiled in a thick fog. Arghhh... I was ready to write it off as a wasted trip when I saw this... wow, now that is a beautiful sight. All day I thought of that bench, how quiet and peaceful it was and how I would love to sit here with coffee (with creamer) in hand watching the sun burn the fog.


Decisions, Decisions.

My garden friends in Cincinnati know that the weather here can be quite unpredictable. We can have frost warnings, cold temps, clear nights and two days later heavy rains and warm temperatures. It is not uncommon to have fall leaves crunching underfoot during a morning run but have the air and the breeze feel just like spring. Do I buy pumpkins for the balcony or shop for spring perennials?? 

I have been debating when to start closing up the gardens at the park. I hate to cut it all back- it looks so sad when I do. But I cannot leave it to die on its own like I did with my home garden for I want the gardens at the park to look nice at all times. So I cut and trim and pull those annuals that have served me well and are ready for the compost pile. When it came to the annual succulents in the rock garden I decided to try a little experiment. I will pot up a few and see if they can make it through the winter in my condo that leans more towards shady and cool than bright and sunny.

With clay pots in hand, I stared at the garden and its plants. I paced, hemmed and hawed; which succulents would I try to winter over? This is silly I thought to myself, they are plants, I can always buy more. But you know they are more than plants when you are a gardener. How can you sentence them to die a cold death after months of caring for them? You simply can't! I potted up five and have a few more pots prepped at home for my next trip to the garden. Long live the succulents- at least through the winter until they can return to their home in the park.


My City, My Garden

If you have been reading my blog or following my posts on Facebook you know that I garden at a park.  Ault Park has been my garden, my sanctuary and my creative outlet for several years now. Once I gardened a large yard. I worked on it tirelessly; at first out of love and all consuming interest in gardening and later as an escape. But as we all know you cannot escape, you cannot hide, from your troubles. No matter how much you shop, run, date too much or in my case spend countless hours in the garden, your troubles are sill there, patiently waiting your return.

I will share more of my story over the next several months. For now I will simply say a divorce and all that swirls around such an event led to me becoming a landless gardener- a lady who gardens at the park. This is not a bad thing mind you. In fact, the divorce was full of blessings; including finding myself after many long years. This is a happy story, with a few dark periods, but any journey that leads you to your true self and to where you are meant to be is a very happy story. I have love; much love and am happily engaged to the man I want to spend my life with. And I garden!

I garden in the park- something I never could have imagined as I dug ponds, built new gardens and collected plants like crazed lady five years ago. Instead of feeling sorry for myself and forgoing what I loved I simply looked around the corner, I peeked behind the curtain, and saw that a garden life is much more than the space between your house and the neighbor's. A garden life can be as grand as you want it to be and for me this means gardening any place that will let me. Ault Park is my base garden. There I can design and plant a few gardens just how I wish. It is as close to a home garden as I can find. The rest of my gardens, those I work now and those that I am still to uncover, I am simply the volunteer labor. These gardens, which I will introduce you to, are designed, maintained and cared for by others and I am simply lucky enough to have them say yes to my request to volunteer my time.

I hope you stop by this blog from time to time as I explore all the garden opportunities Cincinnati has to offer. Join me as I uncover, My City, My Garden.


In the Company of Friends

It was evident as we stood outside the Bettman House in the fading light of day that those who came for the meeting cared little for formality and objectives at hand. Instead, an easiness settled in as we greeted each other and organic conversation that comes from those who are bound by shared interests and events that interweave their lives together filled the night air.

The adopt-a-plot gardeners were gathered for one of our semi-regular meetings. We were a bit early and not yet able to enter the building. As we migrated to the covered porch, pizza boxes were opened and the scent of baked cheese and spices drew us in. Snacks soon covered the table alongside bottles of wine. The gathering was underway.

Shortly we were inside patting name tags to our shirts, refreshing glasses of wine and conversing about all things gardens. Most likely we could have carried on for hours like this; simply visiting, but a nudge from Betty, one of the adopt-a-plots original gardeners, told me it was time to get to business.  I updated the group on the new garden signs and posts and the new gardeners that were to join us next summer. They listened politely, interested in my updates, but ready to return to visiting with friends.

These are my friends. We may not see each other outside the gardens and these events, but when we do get together it is as if no time had elapsed. I am immediately at ease and at home, surrounded by kindred spirits who have a passion for gardening and enjoying the company of other gardeners. We are no longer lawyers, accountants, ad reps or merchandisers, we are simply friends who garden, at a park, for all to enjoy.


Fall Blooming Iris .. Who Knew?

There are always surprises for visitors to the park's gardens.  Sometimes the surprise is a garden that is in full bloom after a slow start in the spring, a doe and her new-born fawn, a hawk perched in the tree with its mate scanning the open lawn below for their morning meal or a newly installed garden in what was once a blank pallet of soil nestled within the boundary of the taxus.  For me, it was the discovery that there are late summer and fall blooming iris. Who knew? 

How is it that I can be gardening for over 15 years and not know about this fall delight?  Gardening always has something new to teach me; about the land, its plants and life. But, fall blooming iris? At first I thought the yellow iris blooming in the rock garden was a fluke but the discovery of a second iris in bloom in a nearby garden erased all doubt in my mind; the fall blooming iris is real!

After a quick review of the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens' website I learned that remontant, or re-blooming iris, are primarily hybrids within the bearded iris group. There are hundreds of new varieties of re-blooming iris with blooms cycles that range from early spring to summer to all garden season long; depending on the plant and in some cases the summer (temps and water).  If you are a purest, naturally late-blooming iris are also available within the bearded, Siberian, beardless southern flags and Bulbous iris.