First Day Back in the Garden

Dear Liza,

This past sunny, warm week was so wonderful, I got to get out to the Blair Community Garden.

I pulled up the over-wintering burlap, borrowed the pitchfork from the tool shed, and turned over the heavy, wet soil in my ten by ten foot plot.

I think I heard some earthworms grumbling that it seemed early.

I was happy with my newly-turned soil, and the lavender and catmint seem to have wintered well. I will come back next week and give them a trim.

Once I had woken up my own space, I went to find Ruth, the manager of the garden, and see what I could to to help the rest of the garden. It is a community garden, after all, and all the members of its community help make it the wonderful place it is.

She assigned me the delightful task of ‘waking up’ one of the side beds. This involved light raking (which I do with my hands to avoid breaking tiny new shoots) and pulling off the mulch that has protected the soil and roots during the winter.

This was the best part of the day. Feeling the damp, chilly soil between my fingers and discovering the new plants there was absolutely life-affirming. I felt like Mary Lennox in the Secret Garden, healing the earth as I healed myself. And when I got to repair the edging of the bed with Ruth’s nifty battery powered drill, that was the icing in the cake.

Of course, the next day I woke up, with a sore back, to rain. But the world keeps turning and I have plenty of aspirin, and spring will come.

Looking forward to more garden adventures!


Grandma Judy

Back to the Nursery

Dear Liza,

Auntie Bridgett and I had a busy day on Friday, heading back to the Portland Nursery for more spring things. In just three short weeks, the place has gone from winter to spring! Bedding plants are out, with signs that say “Protect from frost”, because we can have frost as late as April. All sorts of plants are on display, enjoying the sunshine.

And it wasn’t just for my garden plot! Bridgett has become obsessed with houseplants. Her latest Art-O-Rama zine is all about them, and she is letting her own green thumb blossom. To see this zine and all her others, you can go to She got a potted coffee plant and twenty pounds of potting soil. We spent quite a bit of time looking at pots and indoor plants.

From Bridgett Spicer’s latest Art-O-Rama zine

We also got the last seeds and plants we will need for the allotment. Nasturtiums and marigolds will make the garden pretty and keep the bad bugs away and the bees happy. A “Thumbelina” English lavender will smell nice and stay small. Tomatoes and basil will be yummy, come July.

And, with my birthday coming up, I got presents! This process was emotional, choosing three trees to plant in my Hundred Acre Wood bonsai forest. The fires last summer put so much smoke in the air that the Wood lost its leaves and went into dormancy, only to ‘wake up’ mid-December, putting on new leaves that didn’t survive the winter. I have had this tiny forest since my first summer in Portland, and am sad that it has died away. But spring is all about renewal.

So Bridgett and I picked out a small bunchy cypress, and a wonky, leaning cotoneaster and an upright latch to re-forest my forest. This was my project for Saturday, gardening that is a little easier on the back.

Spring was always my Momma’s favorite time of year. New beginnings, helping the earth wake up and come to life after the cold winter is healing for all of us. I think I will get out Francis Hodgeson Burnett’s “The Secret Garden” for my reading this week.


Grandma Judy