Friday, December 10, 2010

The terrace in mid December

10 December 2010

 31 July 2010

Blog reader Nancy asked today, in a comment left on a July post about ripe strawberries why I was no longer posting garden updates on the blog, and that she missed them. My answer was brief, to whit: winter. I asked her to come back again in spring.

December, January and February do pose a problem for a blog whose title is the size of the blogger's terrace. What to do? Again, the answer is quite simple: we wait. That is what winter is. And without the wait, and without the emptiness, and without the browning and drying and blowing away, the cold, the frozen pots, the bareness, the shriveled herb leaves, the sticks of fig and rose, without the white pillows of snow, without all this, spring would be nothing. How unbearable, a constant spring awakening, a false rising up, like being awake after a night without sleep; followed by a constant summer lushness, a constant fall blaze of colour.

We need to be empty. We need to go dark, we need to be alone, we need to look at a pause in the landscape. It is the only possible preparation for the excess to come.

The work of the garden, even tiny a one, continues, as leaves are scraped up, stems nipped, branches pruned, and pots emptied, but none of it is particularly photogenic. Until it snows.


  1. Winter no matter how barren it seems allows us to go deep within and to recharge, who knows maybe plants are doing that too...

  2. My garden is even less photogenic as it is piled ankle deep with leaf litter which I was told was the best thing for my daylilies.

  3. The winter garden may not be as photogenic, but I do appreciate reading about the cold weather care needed to prepare the garden for its hibernation.

    I noticed in the Dec photo that your fig appears to have gone fully dormant. My little 2 ft figling still has leaves (slightly yellow) despite low 40's daytime temp and 30's evening temps. It lives in a 2.5 qt pot on a terrace with southern exposure. How long does it typically take for the leaves to drop and go fully dormant? I also worry about root damage from freezing since it's in a small pot.

  4. Anyes - I know. It's just amazing that they come back and do it all over again.

    Karen - do you ever make compost with some of your leaves?

    Joy - Freeze-thaw-freeze is what ruptures roots, not freezing, per se. Perhaps you can move your fig out of the sun for winter, and give it a new pot in spring, or prune its roots.

  5. Yes, it's the sharp definition of seasons that I find so unsettling in the Tropics.

  6. Marie--I feel like it is a bit of yin and yang: good and bad; empty and full. We can't have one without the other can we? And having no plants (or dormant plants) like you said, is not all bad. There is always something to do. I like the anticipation of looking forward to everything appearing again. Kind of like a Christmas present. One thing I was thinking about when I saw the photo of the garden now is: do any of those pots ever get too close to the edge and almost fall of down below? I was thinking in particular about the animal you had that visited in prior posts running among them and knocking one over. It looks as if you are very high up. I enjoy your posts of food, the kitchen, the views of NY...they all have a feeling of you and that is why we come visit.

  7. MIT - the tropics must have their own subtleties (like drowning you in rain)...

    Teri - thank you :-) In the picture the wide gutter reads as the street below, but what looks like the street is in fact the black gutter - about 18" wide. Just once a pot rolled into it and was caught there. I take care not to have any pots above the entrance to the building, for that reason. But, touch wood, everything is securely wedged and stable.

  8. If the gutter is the street, then it looks like the cars are parked on the sidewalk -for cars.

    Resting now.

  9. Great comparison shots! I'm all ready for snow now.

  10. This (well written) post was a great incentive for me to go up on my rooftop and start bubble wrapping, Reemay-ing my containers to prepare them for the winter.

  11. Oh how your kitty does live a civilized life! What a great view for the tres grand chat noir!

  12. No vertigo for kitty then.

    I could do without winter to be honest. I console myself that daylength increases after the solstice and by late Jan it's really noticeable. Roll on Spring

  13. Ha, Frank, yes, I was noticing that, too, as I was beginning to think I must sound like liar! Enjoy your rest.

    Beence, mwa aussi :-)

    Lambert, thank you. I used to wrap, then I was lazy, and then I noticed that things survived, regardless. But every situation on the roofs is different, I know. We have a zillion climates in our little rooftop territories...

    Hilary, if only some of the civilization would rub off on the cat!

    Rob - I guess kitties come with vertigo disabled. Coziness is over-rated, then ? :-)

  14. I was thinking the same think Teri was, but going back to the post I can clearly see the gutter. Funny how it lines up with the cars.
    Was wondering, do you plant any spring bulbs in your pots?

  15. To follow your train of can we know what is right if we don't know what is wrong?
    Estorbo lives in a veritable jungle or even a garden of Eden. Lucky him!


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