Starting Over

Way way way back when I first started my book publicity business I had an upstairs office in downtown Santa Rosa that looked out back on a courtyard and a parking lot, divided by heavy wire fencing. That was not the view I wanted and I decided to plant morning glories on the fence to transform that view. Those of you who have read my book Plant Whatever Brings You Joy might remember that when I went out to plant seeds I was crestfallen to discover that the dirt at the base of the fence was only one inch deep. Below was parking lot asphalt. Soon I was relaying this to a dear friend on the phone, while looking out the back window. “I would need jackhammers to plant anything back there, Justine!” I lamented. Unbelievably just beyond the fence were several men digging into the asphalt with jackhammers. I got off the phone, scurried down the staircase and spoke with the man in charge of those workers who kindly and miraculously agreed to have them dig holes for me along the fenceline, deep enough to accommodate a small seed, and within a couple of months that fence was transformed into a wall of purple beauty.

Fast forward decades to my current reality in the high desert where the east, south and west of this property is nearly all fashioned into broad patios. Deeper exploration and consideration allowed me to imagine the heretofore unthinkable. I could garden along the wooden fence line between me and my west of me neighbors, which is four inches deep and forty-five feet long. Yes, really. I said, “This is what I’ve been given, and this is what I will make use of.”

As it happens I brought a lot of seeds with me from California. I augmented my stash with four kinds of morning glory seeds from a big box store, put my judgments and whinging behind me and shifted to a creative whimsical mindset that this was not only possible, I had done it before–incredibly under worse circumstances. I put in my seeds. As luck would have it, I had brought with me from my California garden some wrought iron border fencing, that “just happened” to fit into the chosen allotted space. They had something to climb on! Knowing they would need something once they reached the top I strung twine and various colored wool yarns from the metal border to the tops of the wooden fencing along which I was planting. Perfect. Fortunately, as they gradually emerged from the earth, they thought so, too! They are off and running. This is the fun part where they seem to grow inches overnight!

This particular fencing is built in sections. Two panels over I decided to put in nasturtium, which, happily, has now also begun to grow. No flowers yet!

What is not lost on me as I begin to claim and improve and be creative with the blessings I have been given in the high desert, is that I am largely working from seed. Given that Plant Whatever Brings You Joy: Blessed Wisdom from the Garden is, in its entirety, a book based on metaphors from the garden [indeed, the working title for my book was Metaphors from the Garden!] is that if there were ever a time to be beginning a new garden from seeds, now would be that time. And so I am. It is both humble and humbling. It is also inspiring and enlivening. I am not, much as I am tempted, going into a nursery and buying ready made plants. I’d have to put them in pots, for starters. That does little to connect me with this new earth I am exploring, digesting, adapting to and learning about. Putting a teeny tiny seed in the ground and watching the miracle of a seed transforming itself into beauty and food is a far more important life exercise for me in this moment. I walked away from a garden I had developed over a fifteen year period. It has been shared literally with thousands of people over that decade and a half. I am, in so many ways, Starting Over.

Mind you, I did buy a bunch of petunias when I first got here, in winter, and left them in their original pot, which I placed in a big basket and kept them in the house until the weather changed. I took the time to harden them and then left them outside. I was rewarded with not only their stunning beauty, but also not one but two amazing opportunities to catch on video hummingbird moths visiting them! (I will feature those in an upcoming post!)

I also early on purchased a jasmine, now in a pot and doing well, and a breath of heaven, which was one of my very favorite plants in my California gardens, living in a very large pot. I could not resist buying a small one and planting in a pot. Those two plants along with one geranium and a few pansies are my entire collection of potted plants at the moment and they have served as soul and heart comfort as I get my grounding here in the desert.

Oh, hold on. There is one more. My daughter bought me a desert willow on Mother’s Day! So, yes, there is that. It was the bridge from familiar plants that comforted me to the leap to desert plants that thrilled me. There is one very established one that hangs over the wooden fence from the neighbor’s yard. Lucky me, as 3/4 of the tree is over here, not over there. I have pruned it and talked to it and I may or may not have watered it a wee bit while she is away at work, and the result is that it is the most nourished most beautiful I’ve seen since arriving. I simply love it. So I’m happy and grateful to have one of my own in a large pot on the eastern patio. Very.

Gardens in New Mexico cannot be separated or viewed apart from the overhead skies. Here’s one from this week. Stunning.

I do hope you will join me in this high desert adventure. I am learning so much, particularly about the birds who live and pass through here. I am grateful to have the many longtime subscribers to this blog and I look forward to your comments!

Love and garden blessings from the high desert of New Mexico!

Kathryn

Postscript, because I know some of you are wondering: this village is 4800 feet high!

4 Responses to “Starting Over”

  1. I am so enjoying your daily discoveries of New Mexico. These are all new plants to me. I have driven through the state but I do not know it or it’s plants well. You are making it your true home.

  2. Congratulations on the new adventure. You are so creative, and it’s wonderful to see how you are adding beauty to your new environment.

  3. Julie, thank you! It’s truly one of the best parts of living in New Mexico to be learning so many new plants and birds! This little garden reflects more about my past than my present but it’s a cherished transition! Kathryn xoxo

  4. Hi, Antonia! Thank you for your kind words! I look forward to introducing you to all of this! Love, Mom xoxo

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