Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Garden

I wasn't going to be a sheep and do a long retrospective, but I really, really need something good to hold on to, anchor into, and over 4 years now it's always been the garden. Many good things have happened this year (poetry collection accepted, work in Orion and The Sun, radio interview, self published a garden book after narrowly missing a press), but none as evocative and moving as this small world I help along each year--just as it helps me along.

"'What is the world?' [my son asked] What the world is and who we are meant to be within it and how we are to conserve what is good and beautiful and true in the world, and in ourselves; and how we are to forgive and, if we can, redeem what is bad and ugly and false in ourselves and, because of us, in the world--this may be what we're here for." -- Mark Tredinnick

Early March
Early April--post cut down
90% of my garden gets cut down each year. It's something that can take me 2 days, or if I savor it, 2 weeks. I savored in 2011. This is all the work I did the whole year, except for mulching the paths.

Our trip to see 500,000 sandhill cranes
Sandhill Cranes one hour west
Early May
Mid May
In May I took my wife on a research trip for my next book through Oklahoma, from the NE corner to the SW. Interviewed family, visited bison and prairie preserves, saw the OKC Memorial site, walked the 1894 homestead. I discovered a place I didn't know existed, and came to some measure of peace with one I loathed most of my life. It meant a lot to share the state I was born in with my wife.

Tallgrass Prairie Preserve Oklahoma
Family Homestead, Corn OK
Black Tailed Prairie Dogs, Wichita Mtns Wildlife Refuge
Garden Tour
In June I was one of several gardens on the Wachiska Audubon Society Garden Tour. In a few hours hundreds came through, and I only wished that I had started my native plant garden consulting business before instead of after, since so many people asked if I did that.

Day Before Garden Tour
Garden Tour, Mid June
Tour Day, Muggy Muggy Muggy
Mid July--My Birthday
Monarchs on Liatris Ligulistylis--raised 200
Mantis Cat
Early September
Late October
Balanced on a cosmo petal
Golden Smokebush
I also set up an Etsy photograph shop, with a focus (pun intended) on macro shots.

I'm hoping 2012 brings a book contract for any of my mixed genre or straight memoirs, and a good teaching job--somewhere I can put down roots and have long term relationships with students, peers, landscapes. But if not, I have my quasi prairie garden here in Nebraska, whose roots are amending the clay soil just as they work their magic on me. I hope you've had some of that magic, too.


Lona said...

I have enjoyed looking back through your garden for this year Benjamin. Sounds like you have had a full year. I hope in the New Year that is upon us that 2012 will be a blessed year for you and your family.

Julie Stone said...

I'm glad you did share this retrospective with us, your garden is so full of inspiration. I love the contrast between the photo of everything cut down in April and the photo of six foot tall plants in June.

scottweberpdx said...

I know there are a lot of them, but I still love these "year-in-review"'s always fascinating to me to see other peoples gardens transition throughout the year.

Benjamin Vogt said...

Lona--Thank you, and to you, too! Hope all is well your way.
Julie--If I move next year, I'll do one last retrospective, from day one. That'll blow your hair back. :)
Scott--Yeah, it really is. Like being a peeping tom into someone's soul. Maybe? Like reading a book, too in that way I think.

Mary Gray said...

Beautiful photos, Benjamin. It's so amazing to see how much the garden transforms in the course of one short season. So happy to have discovered your site. I love it!

Les said...

May the new year rain down job offers and book contracts on your head to the point you need a new umbrella.

Benjamin Vogt said...

Mary--Love me some herbaceous perennials. Glad you found me, too! Snarks unite.
Les--Amen, brother. But umbrellas just aren't built to last these days.

Lynn at Sin City to Slaterville said...

Your garden's a treasure. I just endured the pain of leaving such a one behind, but there is always new soil to amend. Happy new year (and you and Les both buck up, willya?)

Martha said...

What a thoroughly incredible post. Thanks so much.

Unknown said...

You had quite a year! It is great to see it all together. Have a great New Year.

online garden store said...

nice post

Benjamin Vogt said...

Lynn--Les and I are kindred misanthropes, sorta.
Martha--That's what I go for. Thoroughly incredible. :)
Michael--And I hardly lifted a finger, except for my anal primping before the garden tour. Gardening is easy.

Corner Gardener Sue said...

Hi Benjamin,
I look forward to seeing what your garden does this spring and summer. I hope my new little plants grow into big ones this year.

Happy New Year!

Jess said...

well said.

ProfessorRoush said...

Good luck on the next book, Benjamin. And Good Gardening in 2012!

Benjamin Vogt said...

Sue--that senna will be massive this year!
Jess--thanks for stopping by! Come back, ya hear?
Dr. R--Yeah, balancing writing and teaching AND gardening is interesting, huh?

Lea's Menagerie said...

I enjoyed seeing your garden through the seasons! And the photos from your travels, too!
Best wishes for the New Year!

Corner Gardener Sue said...

I just got here from FB, and have proven once again to myself how scatterbrained I am. I reread the whole post, not remembering that I had before, and the only reason I know that, is because I had left a comment. I knew I had seen photos of your place at different times of the year, though.

I am over winter. I want spring to just come and stay. Not that the seasons care what I think, though.

Nicky @dirtandmartinis said...

I would love to tour your garden! Thanks for all the fascinating photos showing your garden coming to life. Awesome.

Helen said...

Yours is a beautiful creation, Benjamin. Keep on keeping on.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful photographs, thank you for sharing. Quick question- when you cut down your plants in spring, do you leave the plant waste on the ground or not or leave just some of it?

Benjamin Vogt said...

It's not waste! :) It's free mulch, and wonderful places for insects to live! Yes, I use it, leave it in place. Low maintenance and sustainable.

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