Sunday Opinion: A New Season

Even though our winter has a grip on my landscape I can barely comprehend, I am thinking about how it feels to be poised on the cusp of a spring season.  Every season has its memorably quiet or triumphant moments, and its disasters. I remember a bygone season in lots of ways.  Who came when, and for what reason.  People I meet, over dinner in the garden.  The storm the likes of which I had never seen before.  Something in the garden I had never noticed before.  Some things that go unnoticed for a while are treasures-others are unexpected setbacks.  A plant new to me opens a whole new line of thinking.  A material I never paid much attention to suddenly becomes a material of choice. A new client brings something new to the design process.  Something I read changes my mind about a whole host of previously held ideas.  Other ideas I am reluctant to give up are verified by a gardener I respect.  Something I see working gives me confidence.  Things I see not working feel like a test for which I am ill prepared.  Some great days feel like they will keep on glowing, and never end.  Some bad days seem like they will never end, period.

But the gardening season does end.  Nature has the idea to let every gardener down slowly.  Summer comes to a close, almost imperceptibly.  The trees and woody shrubs begin to go dormant in August.  The fall is a season just as long as all the other seasons.  It is a good time to plant, or transplant.  In a generously long fall, the slowing down is a long sigh lasting throughout November.  Many gardeners are most active in their gardens in the fall.  It is easy to haul compost or stone when the weather is cooler.  It is easier on any plant to be transplanted when the weather is cooler, and the rain more regular.  Our fall color is sometimes more brilliant than anything the summer garden has to offer.

Once the winter comes, there is time to reflect on the season past.  My containers did not make me so happy last season.  I was more than ready to let them go.  And very appreciative that I would have a chance to do them differently, the next time around.  This time.  Though the winter can be depressing and seem endless in Michigan, I appreciate that there comes that day when the gardening stops.  Having time to rest and reflect is a time I need.  Having the time to review, and plan anew is an opportunity I treasure.  I like reading catalogue descriptions of tomatoes, and climbing plants.  Reading about the garden and garden design is just as important to me as gardening.

I know spring is on the way.  I know it will be as fine as a new coat of paint. I know it will be disappointing in ways I cannot yet imagine.  I have bridges to cross that I have not yet begun to build.    But no matter what nature has in mind, I am excited for the new season.  A new project at home-I am thinking through several possibilities.  A new design project gets the old blood moving like nothing else.  Detroit Garden Works has a look and focus it has never had before.  New, for the new season.  The Branch Studio has some fountains close to a finish the likes of which we have never done before.  That’s what a new season is all about.  A fresh start.

A second chance, a chance at a fresh start, is nature’s most extraordinary gift.  I personally plan to take her up on that offer.  I can leave behind what I should leave behind. I can make changes-for the better.  I can confidently stand pat, if I so choose.  The opportunity to choose is indeed a precious opportunity.  I would say that gardeners I know anticipate whatever the spring has to dish out.  The joy that is the garden waking up trumps all the dishing.  Gardeners are hard digging people more than ready for the chance to go around again.  Count me in.


  1. I so agree with you Deborah. I enjoy the down time to relax and reflect on my yard. I take lots of pictures to see what I like and how to improve. This week brings a new season – spring. Aster the temperatures and sunshine this weekend, I do see signs in my yard. The snow closest to my house has melted and I see crocus leaves, daffodil leaves and pansy leaves. There is one crazy pansy that is trying to bud. Imagine a week ago, I did not have hope. Happy spring!

  2. I so appreciate your optimism and echo many of your sentiments. I am always grateful for opportunities to learn something new and improve and or change old habits.

  3. Although I’m already enjoying the happy yellow of daffodils and the electric hues of veronica ‘Georgia Blue’, I appreciate the down time of winter. Frankly, my hands, knees and back need it. But as the body recovers, my mind stays active with thoughts and plans… being a gardener is so gratifying.

  4. Count me in too. The snow is melting fast and receding before our very eyes. You can feel that angle of the light changing every day. Everywhere you look, you know it is coming. The feeling is thrilling.

    Here is what the joy of Spring’s arrival sounded like in the late Renaissance in Italy. I am thinking about my Italian pots and imagining what it must have been like over 400 hundred years ago to welcome Spring.

    And the Russian, who arguably have it worse than we do, have every right in the world to exclaim at the coming of Spring. Rachmaninoff’s Spring Waters sums it up pretty well….pure dramatic rapture.
    The song’s text says it all.

    The fields are still covered with white snow.
    But the streams are already rolling in a spring mood,
    Running and awakening the sleepy shore,
    Running and gliterring and announcing loudly.

    They are announcing loudly to every corner:
    “Spring is coming, Spring is coming!
    We are the messengers of young Spring,
    She has sent us to come forward,

    Spring is coming, Spring is coming!
    And the quiet, warm May days
    Follow her, merrily crowded
    Into the rosy, bright dancing circle.”

  5. I can never imagine living some place where you can garden year round. I, too, want that break to recharge. Looking at the slowly melting snow revealing more and more brown on shrubs in my garden. Trying to see it as opportunity rather than loss. And our winter has not been as bad as yours!

  6. Begin again…the beauty of being a gardener. We always desire and receive a chance to start something new!

  7. Alice Mansfield says

    This is my first visit to your website and blog, lovely! I have relocated up north, and we are still under two feet of snow- I’ve been soothing my gardener’s soul at a local florist/greenhouse all winter. I logged on to share with the owner the extraordinary experience of Detroit Garden Works. When I lived in the area, I was there at least once a week. I can see now that I am going to have to bring her down to see what you have created! Photos do not do justice, however wonderful they may be. Sights and sounds and smells combine to make a genuine destination. Thank you for your dream, we will be down soon.

  8. Good post. After winter passes, you can always start fresh. It’s a time for change and rebuilding. A chance to start over from previous mistakes or to create a new look.

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