O Spring!


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So much is happening. Many of the daffodils are blooming and the tulips are getting themselves ready. The temps have been up and down and so I'm not sure how long it will be before the cherry blossoms pop out.

Some years lots of things bloom all at once and others are much more in stages. The all winter long snow pack actually insulated some of the beds and so some bulbs are ahead of schedule.

Several wonderful people planted my Douglas Fir Christmas tree yesterday. It is already beginning to put out new light green buds. My hope is that it will act as a color foil for the huge blue spruce that is already towering at the edge of the front of the church.

Alan planted some new pansies among those survivors from last fall.

I hope to put in cabbages and sow mixed greens seeds this week as well as put in some new blueberry and strawberry plants in the victory garden. I put in more asparagus roots, horseradish, a new gooseberry and several rhubarb roots and some blackberry and raspberry plants.

The chicory survived and turned deep red and sweet under the straw mulch and snow as did the endive. I am using some of it in the last of the Wednesday lenten soup this week. Alan has started the Roma tomato seedlings in the windows at home along with some herb seeds.

I just bought a new Province lavender to fill in a gap in the front and some sage plants for the back. The mint is coming up great guns in the victory garden and the strawberry pyramids are greening up and there are swelling buds everywhere. The figs are about to bud after being unwrapped and the magnolias are swelling toward color along with the lilacs and the cherries.

Life can be grand!

Father Farmer

To Spring
by William Blake

O thou with dewy locks, who lookest down
Through the clear windows of the morning, turn
Thine angel eyes upon our western isle,
Which in full choir hails thy approach, O Spring!

The hills tell one another, and the listening
Valleys hear; all our longing eyes are turn'd
Up to thy bright pavilions: issue forth
And let thy holy feet visit our clime!

Come o'er the eastern hills, and let our winds
Kiss thy perfumèd garments; let us taste
Thy morn and evening breath; scatter thy pearls
Upon our lovesick land that mourns for thee.

O deck her forth with thy fair fingers; pour
Thy soft kisses on her bosom; and put
Thy golden crown upon her languish'd head,
Whose modest tresses are bound up for thee.

It amazes me that just as the snow begins to melt the snow drops are blooming right at the edge of the retreating drift outside the church door.
Even though it is still very much winter, as if in response to our great longing for spring, the snow drops are pushing themselves through the retreating snow pack that has been outside the church door since just after Christmas.

I have settled into winter now, for the most part, though I admit that on a recent trip south I was more than a little thrilled to see camellias blooming.

Even the lenten roses are still under the snow in the parish garden, but, this morning, on the edge of the bed nearest the front door, there are snow drops as fresh and bright as new pennies.

To quote Mr. Hopkins, "nature is never spent; there lives the dearest freshness deep down things."

That sounds like snow drops to me.

Ah! Does my old heart good! Spring will come!

Here is the whole poem from Mr. Hopkins.
God’s Grandeur  (Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–89) 
THE WORLD is charged with the grandeur of God. 
 It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;  
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil Crushed.
Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;        
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;  
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell:
the soil Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod. 
And for all this, nature is never spent;  
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;       
And though the last lights off the black West went  
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent  
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Father Farmer

Well, keeping the seed catalogs in the bathroom is still part of it although finding resources online has superseded them for the most part. It is also time to read new books and research new plants that one may be thinking about. There is also the joy of discovering new ones.

I like to draw sketches of the layouts for planting and if it is not bitter cold or snow bound I often do measuring for new beds which I sometimes lay out and prepare. I also like to measure in all directions from potential sites for planting new trees with an eye on how big the mature tree will be.

It is not too early to order seeds and all the supplies needed for starting seeds in the windows. If there were particular problems in the garden during the just past season it is always a good time to do some reading and find out how to avoid a repeat. Sometimes this information can lead you to resistant varieties that you can find and order now.

A sunny day in winter is not a bad time to do a bit of fruit tree pruning as long as one is careful not to cut all the bud sites. One of the things that one might research is about what plants bloom and or fruit only on old growth so one can be sure not to diminish next years enjoyment when pruning.

The freeze thaw cycle is excellent for composting and helps breakdown the organic matter into the gold that will make your garden grow in the spring.

 If one is using thick compost layers to avoid excessive digging next year it is obviously the time to build up the layers with fallen leaves and other organic matter that will retard the growth of grass and weeds in the spring.

Many companies will take your orders and send your choices to you at the appropriate time for planting in your climate zone. I am already ordering seeds and have placed a number of orders for plants and tubers that will arrive at the right time for planting.

If there is hardscape or building to be done in the garden area it is best, of course, to do it when most of the garden is dormant. Its also a great time to clean and examine all of your gardening tools to make sure they are up to another season or to replace them.

A bit closer to spring I am going to place the basic elements of a drip watering system and place rain barrels on the downspouts at church.

The mind is a garden too and mine enjoys few things more than contemplating what I plan to do in my garden in the future. I can't help but believe that there is a strong resonance between these gardens. I know that the exterior one has a calming, joyful and healing effect on both the garden of my mind and of my body.
Father Farmer



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Jack, the Romano's dog, visits us often here at All Saints. He has enjoyed running in the snow, as have lots of the neighbor kids and doggies. The joy experienced by Jack and the kids and doggies is the joy of the garden and it becomes my joy and the joy of all who witness it. A garden is for watching and being in all year round.

It makes me very happy to see the remnants of snow forts on the grounds and to watch the occasional snow ball battle. If they get there before the parking lot is cleared it is a pretty good place for tobogganing.

The snow is actually good for the plants. It deep waters them when it melts and while it is on it actually insulates them. The dusty roads survived last winter in large part because during the coldest days it was covered with snow pack.

The cold weather is necessary to kill disease in the garden and to place bulb and tuber and rhizome plants into their dormancy so they will bloom again in spring and summer.

The snow also helps with the in situ composting we are doing by keeping the hay and leaf mulch wet and involved in the freeze thaw cycle so it breaks down.

The earth is a wonderful place and the seasons all play their part. This is all not to mention that the stark landscape of winter offers the most amazing experiential foil for the baroque outrage of spring and summer.

God is good!

Father Farmer




Of course the garden is sleeping right now.

We planted over three thousand bulbs that should grace us in Spring. Two thousand of them were daffodils. There are also lots of Dutch and bearded irises, snow drops, crocuses, and lots of others.

The victory garden has been covered with a thick layer of hay and leaves that will serve as a mulch bed for next years minimum dig garden. Garlic has been put in and the new asparagus bed is sleeping.

The orchard has been pruned in preparation for the spring and we have started to compost on site with a wonderful tumbler donated by a good neighbor.

Hopefully the hives will come in the spring and the girl scouts are planning to help us establish a much larger community composting project.

We are planing a walking path all around the property and a meditation labyrinth and out door altar behind the church.

This is all part of our regenerative culture efforts and fits into the integral framework that includes every aspect of our life together and our mission to call people into healing and regenerative community.

Keep checking this site for updates about the garden.

Father Farmer