Friday, December 3, 2010

The first frost and my bulbs are still not in the ground!

We had an amazingly mild November, and I felt like I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. Well it dropped. The hard frost finally blackened my dahlias which had been blooming (astonishingly!) until late November.

I'm face to face with the reality of another winter. I’ve written about how much I love seasonal change , but the older I get the more I wish the seasons were a little less dramatic, the winters a little less harsh.

The trees may be all “bare, ruined choirs where once the sweet birds sang,”
but I still have a little bit of color thanks to my oakleaf hydrangea and spirea:
photo taken on Dec. 3 2010

Granted I am living in the mid-Atlantic, not New England and I have flowers in my garden from late November until the first snow-drop in mid-to late January. It could be a lot worse. And poring over all those gorgeous seed catalogues on a cold winter’s night helps a lot.

The temperature’s now in the low 40’s and the long range weather report is for highs in low 40’s /high 30’s for next week so I can’t put off getting in those last bulbs. I ordered 705 bulbs(crocus, daffodils, hyacinth, fritillaria, tulips, scilla, allium and lilies) and am now down to under 100 bulbs. I was out there yesterday for about 40 minutes yesterday and about an hour today planting bulbs I should have gotten in the ground when the weather was much milder. If I manage to do this for about a half-hour the next few days I should have them all planted.

I had expected to be totally caught up on up my garden chores during retirement. Somehow it didn’t happen. I heard a great NPR post from Andrei Codrescu which explained what happened to me (and my guess is to to other retirees):

I had this crazy idea - not my first or my last - that one day when I retired from my more or less regular job, I would re-read all the books I once loved, and I'd also read all the books I never had time for.

And now that I retired from my more or less regular job, I find not only that I have no time to read, I don't seem to have time for anything. And so I think I discovered something: Hundreds of jobs that you never did when you had a more or less regular job are waiting patiently for you to retire. And the minute you do, they pounce on you. People you haven't seen in years appear on the phone, on Facebook and in person, and your guilt for neglecting them more acute. Things fall apart faster, and fixing them takes longer.

Listen to the rest at:

Thanks, Andrei Codrescu. Nice to know I’m not the only retiree having trouble getting things done!


  1. Thanks for the link, Karen. I'm far from retirement but you and he touch on something I've been thinking about lately, as this grinding overdemanding fall term winds down: maybe I need to incorporate some of my daydreams for that golden distant day when I have time into the now when I'm so pressed for it. As a practical matter it's not clear what to trim, but if I wait to immerse myself in Italian or Hindi, or to take the Ulysses class at the Rosenbach, the suggestion from those up ahead on the road is that I'll not get to any of those tasks then either. At least, though, I'll not have 100 bulbs sitting in chilly reproach!

  2. At this stage in life, there is nothing more precious than time!

    The challenge is how best to use it.

    Don't put all those things you want to do on indefinite hold!

  3. I have five bags of Coscto bulbs (200+) still waiting to go in the ground. We're in a mild part of California so hopefully I still have time! But thanks for the reminder.

  4. Shannon,
    As long as the ground isn't frozen, you can plant. So you're okay!

  5. Oh my gosh, that is a GREAT quote. I feel exactly the same way. Not only do I not have enough time in retirement to devote to my garden, my house, and my books, they are, indeed, screaming at me now, instead of just needling me in the background. So nice to see someone else say it and so beautifully.

    (As a side note, we had tomatoes in the garden until mid-November!)