The Art of Ice and Another Disappointment

January 2, 2011

A few days ago, the latest Chicagoland Gardening magazine arrived in my mailbox. As usual, it was like a box of chocolates (due respect to Forrest Gump) – something to be savored and enjoyed slowly, preferably in the bathtub. I always scan it quickly, then go back to the beginning and read everything carefully. Then it sits on my nightstand and whenever I’m between books, I re-read an article or two.

And I am always disappointed. Not by the editors, who seem to understand exactly what Chicagoland means. They have gardeners and nurseries from north, west, central and south well represented in the editorial content. What disappoints me is the calendar section. Rarely (and I mean maybe once a year) are there any listing for the southern area of Chicagoland. Really? First – I am surely not the only subscriber in the southwest suburbs. Second – I know for a fact that there are thriving garden clubs, busy nurseries, landscapers and avid gardeners in Palos, in Tinley, in Orland, in the Homewood-Flossmoor area, in Park Forest – just to name a very, very few. So why aren’t they contacting the magazine to let them know of their events? So we can ALL enjoy them? This insular thinking I could vent about for weeks, so I’ll stop here – but with a plea to all our nurseries, our garden clubs, our Master Gardeners speaking in public to please send events to Chicagoland Gardening, so we can all share!!

A walk around the blisteringly cold garden this morning was highlighted by two things – very different in their beauty. The top of the pond is frozen again, with a clear sheet of ice encompassing bubbles of air. It is holding brown leaves and turning them into ghostly cadavers under the water. The patterns and textures, the light and dark, the water and air – it is all so stunning. I think of multi-media art works or watercolors or sculptures. I could make dozens of photographs and still feel like I’m missing something delicate, elegant and unique.

Even after all that rain, the wind that has whipped us for days straight now picked up a great deal of the water and whisked it away – the upper part of the pond is very low. The squirrels have scraped all the peanut butter and all the seeds from all the cardboard. I hope they enjoyed it very much and it will help fatten their little bodies for the cold.

The milkweed in the front beds are releasing another batch of seeds. I was really under the impression that this happened in the fall, but I see now that this is a very long process. Some are let go in the fall, some obviously throughout the winter. I’m thinking I’ll see this all through winter and into spring. What a smart way to make sure you’ve propagated properly – spread out the possibilities over months, over seasons, throughout all kinds of weather. With that kind of bet-hedging, some of the seeds are guaranteed to land somewhere, at sometime, in something conducive to growing.

Don’t you love how smart nature can be?

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