The Homeowners Column

The Homeowners Column

A Garden Gathering of Reasons to be Thankful

Photo of Sandra Mason

Sandra Mason
State Master Gardener Coordinator
slmason@illinois.edu

Too much wind, too little rain. Why does it take extreme events for us to realize what truly matters? My heart goes out to all who have the wearisome task of pulling their lives back together after our recent tornadoes. I hope they find some small joys in the help from a stranger and the hug from a new friend. It brings whole new meaning to being thankful we have a roof over our heads.

As a gardener I am thankful for many things. I am thankful that I can look into the eye of a flower and see the beauty of the whole world. I am thankful for wild places and for people who passionately work to keep them wild. I'm thankful that malodourous manure becomes the sweet black gold of compost. I'm thankful that I get to work with some of the most giving people in the world - gardeners.

A few entries in my gardening gratitude journal:

· the smell of freshly turned soil on a warm spring day

· the taste of the first home grown strawberry of the season

· the taste of the last home grown tomato of the season

· the first frost in fall so we can quit watering the tomatoes

· garden catalogs that fill my mail box and my dreams with bodacious blooms and voluptuous vegetables

· for Farmers markets and local growers who provide the aforementioned bodacious blooms and voluptuous vegetables when my dreams fall short

· that bears and rattlesnakes are not on our list of garden pests

· that I have a loving husband who calmly waits on a garden bench for my return to reality when I enter my glassy eyed new plant trance

· that eating machines called caterpillars miraculously turn into exquisite flights of fanciful butterflies

· that creeping Charlie makes my lawn look lush and green…from far away

· garden failures that give us a chance to learn and a reason to go shopping for another plant

· security that we don't feel the need to carry a gun when we garden

· the four seasons of gardening: spring - hurry and get it planted; summer – water, weed and harvest; fall - more planting, more weeding and more harvesting; and winter - finally time to rest, reminisce and plan next year's "do over"

· that we share the planet with plenty of other insane gardeners, so we don't look quite so crazy

· plants that continue to thrive despite our neglect

· the continuing sense of inspiration and survival when we commune with a 200 year old oak

· the people who work to protect the land dominated by 200 year old oak trees

· plants listed as "not eaten by rabbits and deer"

· the ongoing discovery of the real list of which plants are "not eaten by rabbits and deer"

· tomatoes that still produce something edible despite sharing their space with three-foot tall weeds

· spring flowers that magically appear after a long cold winter

· roses that continue to bloom in November

· the freedom to grow vegetables because we want to, not because we have to

· the optimistic attitude that next year will be better

· and the selective memory to weed out the mental mess of garden plans unfulfilled

Join other thankful gardeners in the Master Gardener Program. Training for Master Gardeners in Champaign, Ford, Iroquois and Vermilion counties starts the end of January 2014 in three locations; Champaign, Danville and Onarga, but applications are due December 6, 2013. Check out our web site for more information and to apply http://web.extension.illinois.edu/cfiv/

Questions? Our great horticulture team is here to help. In our Champaign office - Ava Heap carmien2@illinois.edu; in Danville Jenney Hanrahan jhanraha@illinois.edu and Leah Brennan lobrenna@illinois.edu; our new horticulture educator Diane Plewa dplewa@illinois.edu; or me at slmason@illinois.edu. Or phone our offices: Champaign (217-333-7672); Danville (217-442-8615); or Onarga (815-268-4051).

Check your local UI Extension for their opportunities. http://web.extension.illinois.edu/state

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