Tag Archives: cyclamen

What happened in the garden.

When I returned to California from the Rocky Mountains at the end of the year, I was surprised at the changes in the garden. Shrubs that had barely begun to take on fall colors before Christmas, suddenly were bare and brown. Though we’d had plenty of frosts in the fall, the zinnas under a covered walkway continued to hang on — until the solstice, apparently…. They heard it was officially winter, and they knew in their deepest parts that winter is not for them. They lost their will to live.

The lemons are all bigger and brighter. This tree is so leggy, it needs a good pruning, but I don’t know quite how to proceed at this point… and I especially am puzzled about when to do the job, because it seems always to be bearing. Maybe Alejandro will know what to do.

My spider plant, though it was healthy and green through last winter and this frosty fall, seems to be dead. But cyclamen are popping up, no doubt loving the heavy rains that have thoroughly soaked the ground. Yesterday I found several containers in the yard that had collected a foot of water in the last ten days.

The fountain that I’d turned off before leaving is filled to the brim from that rain, and while I was gone Alejandro pruned the plum and fig trees, and the wisteria. The pomegranates left on those dwarf bushes turned pale from cold and old age. I’ll pluck them soon and put them out of their misery, and prune those bushes, which have grown slightly out of bounds.

With so much of the landscape at its most drab, I was surprised to see bright calendula faces. Dear, hardy little garden friends! God bless you, and all your companions as well, the many who are having a brief rest while you keep watch, and shine brighter than the January sun.

Metaphorical pear, real flowers.

Whatever you do,
do it gently and unhurriedly,
because virtue is not a pear
to be eaten in one bite.

-Saint Seraphim of Sarov

These words from St. Seraphim came into my mind this morning. They comprise one of my favorite quotes of of all time. It’s a strong admonition, but its simplicity and poetry display that gentleness that St. Seraphim was known for. The advice is what I need! I am always hurrying, trying to pack in too many activities, and it is hard to be gentle when one is making multiple messes (visible and invisible) with no time to clean up.

I did a lot of cooking today, and I cleaned up! But before that, I went into the garden to pick a fistful of greens for breakfast. Last night was the coldest yet this winter. But more flowers — and ice crystals — have bloomed since I last looked.


Many of my readers will not see the end of winter for a couple more months,
but I hope you will discover at least a metaphorical flower or two blooming nearby.

The next day was honeybee day.

The day after Groundhog Day, or Candlemas, etc., my walk took me past a long hedge of rosemary in bloom, where hundreds of honeybees were already getting ready for next year’s Candlemas. There were both the golden orange striped and the browner kind. I had a lot of fun taking their pictures and sorting them. Most of the shots had to be tossed, quite a few because I had completely failed to include a bee in the frame.

I don’t know much about bees, but it seemed crazy that so many of them were around to notice the rosemary; our nights are still frosty. Do the people with the rosemary hedge also keep bees… handy? But many blocks away, on my own street, was a single such bush and bees were buzzing on its flowers, too. Now, as I write, it occurs to me that I saw bees on rosemary two years ago, possibly as early as January, in a nearby town.

When I got home I went straight into the back yard to see what’s going on with my own rosemary. It is barely starting to bloom, and there was not a bee to be seen. But across the garden, the cyclamen are coming up!