‘hands to work, hearts to god:’ first 2011 chores

NOTHING FEELS RIGHT AT THE MOMENT, with incomprehensible news from Japan, but enough snow melted that I finally just grabbed a rake yesterday and went outside to work while grappling with all the thoughts. When I confessed that on Facebook, a reader there reminded me of the Shaker wisdom, “Hands to work, hearts to God,” and I am grateful to her for that guidance. From a check of the deer fence to the first cutbacks, here’s what got started:

I walked the perimeter of the deer fence, looking for breaches. (If you are considering thwarting deer once and for all in your landscape, start with this story.)

I gently raked debris off areas that were dry enough, starting right near the house where I’ll notice my signs of progress most.

I started cutting back evergreen groundcovers like hellebores, European ginger (above, ready for its haircut), epimediums.

Next up will be ornamental grasses…and in a small gesture of hope, I think I’ll plant the peas and spinach.

All these pre-spring chores are explained in detail here.

  1. pam says:

    Thank you, Margaret! Mousetrap shopping tomorrow! Catherine–Ha. i dream about your suggestion; however we live in a suburban neighborhood which one would not think reading about the wildlife that treks through here.

  2. I too worked in my garden to clear my mind and to pray. I get so much out of working in the garden. My St. Francis garden is dedicated to my brother Frank who died many years ago. “Why,” I asked God with every shovel and He answered me with flowers and beauty and in the process I became a gardner.

    I cleaned up, pruned trees, weeded my flower beds and went to the dump. I spread compost in my flower beds and put down a layer of straw on my paths around them. I use the lasagna gardening technique and only need to spade my garden beds a little bit. I’m having trouble with rust on my Hollyhocks so I stripped the diseased leaves and used some garden sulfur on them. I also have aphids on my blooming succulents so I spayed some Murphy’s oil soap on them.

  3. Brook Penick says:

    This is my first “blog” contribution ever, but what a calming thought. I really can’t get my head around all the tragedy in Japan and won’t try to figure out what any God could have to do with it. Nature is a powerful force and luckily most of the time we get to experience that in a beautiful and nurturing form. Thoughtful busyness works for me, just like Margit has suggested. I just got back in from a walk around the yard and garden and it sure feels good to see evidence that this world keeps spinning and life in so many forms continues its cycle. How lucky are we to have our gardens as unbiased listeners to our thoughts and fears – and they don’t talk back!

  4. Lenore says:

    Soothed by all of the gardeners’ words of “grace and wisdom” regarding the plight of the Japanese people. A little freaked out by the impending demise of many voles. Oh, well. I would like to know, Margaret, about the most fabulous photographs in your blog. I feel as though I could reach in and pet the kitty, pluck a few blossoms, or “borrow” a pair of your garden clogs. Please tell us about your photos!

    1. Margaret says:

      Hi, Lenore. I take all the photos myself, of things here in my home and garden. I have no real training in photography, but have always enjoyed it. It was easier for me in the days of film and non-digital cameras…now the camera I use is like a computer with too many buttons! But I still love the process.

  5. Lenore says:

    You are a woman of many talents! Your next book should be of photographs. They are truly amazing and exceedingly excellent in composition and subject! Bravo!

  6. CJ says:

    Thanks, Margaret, for sharing the lovely Shaker saying, and your gardening life. I am so enjoying your book, your website, and all the comments from fellow gardeners. I am grateful for everything. I continue to be inspired by it all.

    Peace & Light.

  7. pam says:

    Lenore, My apologies to you for the image you have of potential vole demise, i have never experienced such destruction, and i have lost plants in the past to woodchucks, deer, weather and my own planting errors. My gardens will never approach the beauty seen here in Margaret’s amazing photos; even so, i love all of my plants, they were chosen with some thought (for the most part, there are ones that i had to have, that really did not follow any great plan). i have lost clumps of day lilies, hosta, echinacea, some hakone grass (!!!), a special baptisia, and this is just what i’ve seen in the past couple of days. i am almost ready to throw in the trowel, being at the brink of losing the peacefulness and comfort that i get from playing around in my gardens…………

  8. Lenore says:

    I understand. I see an occasional vole and think it’s cute. I think they are living off the constant birdseed that falls to the ground and not my plants. Don’t lose your gardening “mojo”.

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