Sunday, June 7, 2015


ALL MY LIFE I'VE BEEN A GARDENER, and now the frosts are over and I am sinking my bare hands into the earth again to begin a brand new season. But this year's growing season starts with sadness. After a second cold and brutal winter, my prize lace-leaf dwarf red maples have been standing gray and leafless and apparently have died. 

One has been a centerpiece in my porch-side garden for more than 20 years. The other maple, even older, has been a fixture at the corner of my front walkway. Though I have loved both maples, I admit I'm partial to this older maple. A one-of-a-kind specimen, it was a surprise award years ago as Community Day's "Pretty Concord Award." Its uniquely curling branches have survived a lot of winter storms and extreme conditions; until the winter past.

"Should I pull them out and re-plant something in their place?" I've wondered to myself. But I won't do that right away, I know, particularly in the case of the little maple tree with the curling branches. To me, even bare of its customary red hair, it is fine sculpture.

Perhaps I have been praying for a miracle; I keep looking for a sign of life. Perhaps I'll buy glass birds to hang within its branches for at least another growing season...

ONE MORNING RECENTLY,  as I checked my maples fruitlessly for the umpteenth time, I thought about a special back-yard garden ornament that wasn't yet in place. I went downstairs to unpack that sentimental item from its winter place and re-install it. Like my maples, that Victorian gazing globe, with its fine reflective glass the color of a Nordic sky, has adorned the growing seasons in my gardens since my house was new

As I recall, I took a lot of ribbing all those years ago when I announced my birthday wish for one of those glass ornaments that only grannies seemed to have. They began to come back into fashion briefly sometime after I received my gazing globe, but at the time they were passe.

Who cared? I wanted one! I had read an excerpt from the journal of a Victorian woman and was intrigued by her description of a "gazing globe" as the centerpiece of her classic sitting garden. In that globe, the woman had written, she could see earth and ground and sky mixed all in one together, adding new dimension to her garden and lending an element of mystery and peace for her rest and meditation there.

My husband understands me, and it did not surprise me when he found a good glass gazing globe and placed the cobalt orb atop a simple base, strategically arranging it amid the flowers and herbs of a small garden between two patios at the rear lower level of our home.

All these years later, I still find the globe hypnotic as I sit garden-side above my creek, with the globe reflecting grass and flowers, sky and water. In the private coolness of that solitary spot, the curving mirrored surface doubles the effect of sun and shade, mixing colors of my blooms with birds and butterflies and passing clouds. On moonlit nights, from second-story porches high above, I can still look down into the globe and see the blue moon gleaming back at me.

IN OCTOBER EVERY YEAR, I carefully remove and store that fragile globe for winter. And then when frosts are over, I unpack it carefully again and set it back into its summer place in almost-ceremonial fashion. It is among the little rituals that mark the Season of the Gardens for me.

And now it sits again in place with this new season. As I mope about my maples, it comforts me somewhat to see this treasure in its proper place, despite the maples.

May you too find comfort for the cherished items Mother Nature may have stolen from your gardens in the winter past.