The “Secret Garden”

By oakridge
October 2nd 2020

Sitting in the garden, contemplating about what gets us up out of our chair and invites us outside into the garden, probably does not change too much from day to day. Six months ago, it all seemed too obvious, but what a last six months we have had! Walking through the garden, seeing all the different plants that are blooming, the birds and the bees buzzing around looking for lunch on the next best berry, bug, or flower. I thought to myself, they just go about their day “keeping the main thing – the main thing,” and not giving too much concern about what is going on around them… other than finding lunch or hoping they don’t end up as lunch. Added to the normal stresses of life, we now have daily and sometimes hourly updates on everything going on in our world.

The constant bombardment of wearing a mask or not wearing a mask, going to school or not going to school, to vote or not to vote (I would highly suggest to vote), but I’m surely not going to tell you how to vote. Luckily, for most of us we do not have to worry too much about being lunch. Unless, your garden happens to be in the plains of Africa, a large kelp field looking for abalone or catching the next big wave off the coast of California. I would encourage all of us to turn our TVs off and put the mobile devices down, walk through your back door and join me in the “Secret Garden.”

With the last few dog days of summer upon us and fall right around the corner, what bounties await us in the garden? The last few weeks of summer blooms are hanging on and the bees are busy stocking up for winter, (which had better be a long way off), and the fall flowers are just starting to show their faces. For all of you first-time gardeners, you finally get to reap the seeds you sowed so long ago. Enjoy all the fall fruits of the trees – apples, pears, and plums. There are plenty of reasons to get excited for the fall garden, including the abundant varieties of Hydrangeas, fall blooming Sedums, various Asters, garden Mums, ornamental Prairie grasses and all of the trees and shrubs ready to shed their summer greens.

Your salsa garden should be in full fiesta along with your potatoes, carrots, and onions. If you decided to take on canning, you may have been busy already with the pickling season. For our newest gardeners, I know this year you were forced to take the time to start the garden you have always wanted, and I hope for your sake, you will decide to make the time to keep growing. The work you have when growing and grooming a garden gives you a break from the daily grind. Watering and tending to the garden will become a great time to be alone and reflect, have a conversation with your significant other or catch up with your kids. We have all been too busy for too long. Now that we are in the garden and the work is over, we have some time to enjoy family and friends. Thankfully, I have not heard of a virtual garden, I’m sure there is one out there somewhere, but I don’t think there will be one in the near future that allows you to stop and smell the roses. 

One of my favorite times of the year is fall, when the cool nights and cooler mornings help keep these last few hot days tolerable. It is one of the best times to enjoy a “Secret Garden.” I understand if you are inviting friends and family, it might not be much of a secret anymore, but gardens are for sharing, even the “secret” ones. Now that the weather is cooling down a bit, and the days are getting shorter; a fire outdoors is a lot more inviting. I cannot think of a better spot to make new memories and share all the old memories, than a fire feature. There is a fire feature out there for every level of marshmallow connoisseur. The options are endless. I am sure if you can dream it, there is someone out there who can build it. There are gas options, big or small, simple all the way to modern. Wood burning fire pits and fireplaces, along with new smokeless options to keep the late-night showers to a minimum. Depending on the space available, it might even be a combination of gas and wood. I would ask that you check your local building codes, as they will provide direction for the safe placement of the different fire elements that you have to choose from.  I would like to mention that a little common sense goes a long way with fire and how close it is, (or better yet isn’t) to something that can start on fire. 

While we are on the subject of fire…If you are one who likes cooking with fire, there is nothing better than a pizza party on a nice cool night. You might even get to show off your new skills-tossing a hand-made crust and sharing a custom pie with family and friends right after a 90 second roast in your new pizza oven. If you don’t have the space for a new oven, there are plenty of options with pizza stones to turn whatever fire you have into a makeshift pizza oven. Don’t let the lack of a pizza oven keep you from inviting your kids, family or friends to share quality time outside this fall. If pizza or carbs just isn’t your thing, then I am positive you have a few calories left in your diet to let the beast out and share a roasted marshmallow, or two, with a square of chocolate between two grahams. I think we call them s’mores. S’mores? S’mores of what? S’more of getting out in your “Secret Garden” and enjoying the fresh air and what mother nature has to offer.  Remember the teaching of the birds and the bees. “Keep the main thing the main thing” and just imagine…

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