Of the many eventualities I tried to plan for in the garden back when we first began planting 20 years ago, gardening-without-knees wasn’t one of them.
Back in late May, my knees decided to take a prolonged sabbatical. After various tests including MRI’s and a recommendation against surgery for now, it appears I will be gardening with different abilities than I have up to this point.
I’ve been very lucky in my life to have had a hearty and strong body, so this new physical challenge is forcing me to learn new things, like improving body awareness and care in moving around, new skills like asking for help when I need it, and also just allowing myself to rest when I need to. I’ve always been driven about projects (a friend of mine playfully describes me as “naturally caffeinated” 😉 ). Now it is time to enjoy what is here — to sit back and smell the roses, as it were. (My spouse will probably laugh upon reading this, recalling how energetically persuasive I was that we proceed in creating the new butterfly garden just a few weeks ago.)
New tools are helping me: hinged knee braces, an indoor salon stool with wheels to zip around the house, an outdoor electric trike with a basket for garden produce. We’re also on the docket to have more of our garden paths converted to granite so I can get around better.
As my knees have been resting and recuperating from an acute phase, I’ve been sitting and enjoying the forest of houseplants now sparking joy all around my home nest.
Winter naturally suggests a time of inward repose and our days here are alternating between umbrella and sunhat weather.
As the winter sun comes in low and brilliant, the houseplant leaves are illuminated and even more enjoyable than usual.
And this brings me to a plant that is stunning in the winter sunlight. It’s an heirloom recently received that I treasure greatly, propagated and sent to me from my mother, given to her from my grandmother decades ago. Seeing it makes me feel connected to that lineage and just feels like home. It is uncommon to see it in nurseries, but commonly handed down as an heirloom through families, friends and neighbors. It is Begonia Erythrophylla, also known as beefsteak begonia or pond lily begonia.
The under-leaf has a glittery-copper color, and the tops shimmer from dark green to metallic teal. This shimmer reminds me of the water element, which is maybe why they are also called Pond Lily Begonia. It seems to be happy here and is sending out new shoots.
Near to my comfy chair, I keep another favorite begonia: The Polka Dot Begonia (Begonia maculata). Those silver polka dots reflect the sun almost like little mirrors. I don’t know what the evolutionary advantage of that is, but if I were ever given the chance to be a houseplant, I’d want to be this one. Or maybe a garden fairy with those leaves as wings?
Towering over the polka dot begonia, in the upper canopy of houseplants (I’m waxing dramatic here) is the Alocasia Sumo. It feels like a protective roof to sit under and its softly purple stems are sensuousness itself.
Following up from my last post, our first saffron harvest is complete. It totaled only .8 grams but that is .8 more than we’ve ever had before and so we’re delighted! If you are looking for a source of saffron for cooking or tea, someone from an online group turned me on to this site, Peace and Plenty Farm, up in Kelseyville, California. Their website is educational with some great recipes too.
The olive harvest was small this year, probably due to the drought, but it’s always nice to have our own oil. In past years, we’ve harvested several trays. This year we barely got two.
Given the amount of time I’ve had to be off my legs, artsy tinkerings are coming more to the fore. Here’s a little birdhouse-camper trinket I picked up somewhere. It was originally a muted warm red which isn’t my favorite color and so I undertook a miniature renovation, with a new paint job, pieces of leftover jewelry bits and fabric scraps. It will probably camp amidst a thicket of houseplants so that I can pretend I live there. I think a lawn chair atop the roof would be a good addition, don’t you agree?
When not playing with paint, I relax in the evenings with colored pencils and nature-themed adult coloring books. The above pages are from Magical Jungle by Johanna Basford
And when it’s time to stop everything, I have a sensuously fuzzy alarm clock that climbs up on my lap, preventing all other activities but just Being (and petting) ….
Hope you all are have a safe and wondrous winter season! … Unless you are in the southern hemisphere, in which case you are probably too busy in the garden to read this. Happy gardening!