Sunday, December 16, 2012

Almost Full Circle

It's that time again, rose pruning!  If you have been following this blog since it started you may remember one of the very first things I did in the garden when I got here last February was prune roses.  I had never done a lick of gardening, much less the ever-revered rose pruning.  I was nervous every day that I would do something that would kill these needy but hardy bushes.  This year I started pruning with the same bush I first pruned last year and guess what? it is still alive and thriving and we met again  under more relaxed conditions.  I have a confidence that I know a little bit about what I am doing, that roses can handle a lot and that ultimately, if I killed it with too hard a prune it would be okay.  This is a teaching farm and garden after all.  I was able to tackle this bush in one day and the quality of my prune was visible.  A balanced overall branch structure with buds heading in good directions.

It's a funny thing about rose pruning out here in the gulch.  Because of our temperate climate the roses would bloom all year if we'd let them.  But they do actually benefit from a break.  So at some point in the year we just decide it's time to prune or that a certain bush is as close to dormant as it's going to get an we will help it go the last mile.  Generally you wait until there are no more blooms and the leaves have all fallen off.  We just wait 'til they're close.  The year has been amazing.  Some of the most beautiful flowers I have ever seen in my life.

In other news, winter gardening is in full swing.  We have done some asexual propagation (rather that pollination for growth -sexual- we take cuttings and plant them in special soil mix until they send out a bunch of roots then we replant in pots.  Some plants have special cells just in case they need to reroot and when they are cut they kick it into high gear.  We also plant a little cutting from a willow tree with the cuttings because it has a very high level of growth hormone that encourages our cuttings to root!!).  We just planted three beds of tulips, they should be blooming in February/March.  We went on a daffodil planting frenzy.  The narcissus have started blooming.  The narcissus family is also called  daffodil but these are smaller and smell amazing.  We have planted cover crop on several beds that were not cover cropped last year.  This helps to add nutrients to the bed like nitrogen and keeps the soil in it's place rather than getting washed or blown away if we didn't plant anything.  We have stopped making compost for now and maybe for a long time because of our symphylan (tiny centipedes that eat roots and other organic matter and have INFESTED the entire garden) problem.  Winter fruit tree pruning coming soon to a blog near you!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I Vow to Cultivate a Big Strong Heart

With the sound of a stone hitting, yesterday the 60th Practice Period of Green Dragon Temple officially closed.  Two months of dedicated practice, spending most of our waking hours with the same 35 people, little free time, no leaving the valley, and looking at all the deepest (and sometimes darkest) sides of ourselves.  The period ended with a 7 day silent sesshin (meditation retreat).  It wasn't one of those retreats that's soft and relaxing.  This was a little more...raw?  Basically you sit still in one seat from 5am-9pm with an hour break after each meal and each meal eaten at our seat in special ceremonial  fashion of serving and receiving.  It was intense and wonderful and will never happen again exactly as it did.  It is rather inconceivable, all that happened, all that I felt, learned, and thought.  But I think it will move around my mind, body and heart slowly over time and trickle out in surprising ways.

What the end of something often means is that people leave.  Today I had to say goodbye to two of my favorite people and over the next few weeks I will say goodbye to some people I have gotten very close to.  I had this flash, as tears welled, that I would be here at Green Gulch for a long time and I would have to say many goodbyes to people I love.  At dinner, in the dining room, I heard someone saying that they felt like they'd kind of hardened to the whole people leaving thing and that they maybe don't get so close to people because they will leave.  So I vow to cultivate a big strong heart so that I can love people with an open heart that is strong enough to say goodbye.  And then do it again. And again.