Thursday, March 01, 2012

Roof garden on the first day of March

It snowed in Portland last night, and it even stuck. The stuck snow even stayed the next morning, not like the last snow which washed away and turned to slush by the time I left to catch the bus.

That is my roof garden this morning, with its light topping of snow. This picture, taken with a not-smart cell phone, is by no means art. I'm not going to pretend I think it is. One way to look at this is that it is the reality of a winter garden, especially an urban garden that has no choice but to exist on a roof in a collection of salvaged containers (old drawers and things that were not meant to be planters) and the cheapest planters we could find at Fred Meyer/on streetside free piles. That garden might, at first and even second glance, look sad. A sad mass of tangled blackened plant pieces with the occasional spindly, weak, small-leafed stem struggling through the knotty dead masses toward the infrequently apparent Portland winter sun.

The unorganized messy green is perhaps what real life looks like. In what appears to be a struggling garden, I see perennial heuchera and penstemon that never really went dormant, last year's kale rapidly producing new leaves, re-seeded radishes or mustard or arugula (we won't really know for a month or so), a pot of rebounding forget-me-nots, and the beginning of the return of three kinds of strawberry plants, two kinds of mint, two kinds of sage, marjoram, lemon balm, and probably some other herbs I forgot about. This is just what it looks like, the necessary ugly, imperfect stage preceding what will surely be an abundant and beautiful summer in the roof garden.

Or maybe it's just an ugly cell phone picture of a lazily groomed garden planted in cheap containers and trash! (Either way, I'll have some nice fruits and herbs this summer.) It's not like it's impossible to make art in a winter garden or to keep a winter garden well-groomed.

Taken March 2009 at The Frelinghuysen Arborteum in Morristown, NJ. Much more nicely landscaped than my roof garden. What a beautiful place!

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