advent and gardening

The days are really getting shorter and colder now, strong November winds are blowing golden leaves around in the air. The fresh green leaves of the helleborus in the garden are coming out and will hopefully surprise us with its beauty on a gloomy winter day, candles are burning at breakfast and dinner (and sometimes even in between!), winter woollies all around in the house to keep us warm, evening reading in bed while the autumn rain is making cosy dripping sounds on the window.

Last weekend I’ve been collecting winter greens in the garden to make a winter wreath for our door. It feels so much more welcoming to come home after bicycling in this inclement November weather.

 

I also made a wreath, with fir, eucalyptus, mossy branches and wax flowers, for inside and changed our seasonable table. Autumn is almost at its end and Advent has began so it was time to put away the dried leaves! Together with the girls we made these wooden winter animals and in the coming weeks we will gradually put together the nativity scene.

There’s still a lot of work to do in the garden. When I walk in the garden, I can slowly start to notice its clear structure as the plants are fading and the trees almost bare. Without the distractions of leaves and flowers, the garden reveals itself as it really is.

 

“Through the empty branches the sky remains.

It is what you have… .”              Rainer Maria Rilke

 

This is what gardening now is all about: soil and compost, spade and pruning knife. Time for some hard but oh so rewarding work, such as converting the compost and spreading it out on the vegetable beds for next year so the plants will be nourished and stronger.

Covering the empty beds might feel like the end of something (saying goodbye to the abundance of summer and harvest of autumn) but there’s surely also a sense of beginning. A new phase in the life of the garden, when the frost gets to work to purge it of disease and decay, when the compost begins its long process of rotting down and enriching soil.

Working with our own compost, made of vegetable and kitchen haulm, gives me a rich and overwhelmed feeling as nature did the whole converting process without my interference. And it even reward me with this earthly gold!

The end of November is a good time to take stock (of collected seeds, scribbled notes of things to remember for next year, … ). Not only of the garden but as a person too. After all Advent just began and it’s a time of reflection in preparation for the coming birth at Christmas.

A time of attentiveness too, as I’ve been learning about at the retreat last week. I came across this passage of Katherine Swift in the Morville Hours and it’s so beautiful how she writes about the Hours and its relation to gardening (I wished I had written it!).

“The concept of time being sanctified by use is fundamental to the Hours: to waste it is to waste our own precious asset, time upon this earth. This does not mean we should everlastingly be working in our gardens. Simply sitting and enjoying the garden is not doing nothing, it is the attentiveness of which the Hours speak. To watch time passing, noting the changes month by month, day by day, hour by hour- to live, as Thoreau said, deliberately- is a sort of sanctification in itself.”

I wish you a peaceful and attentive Advent period!

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