I look forward every spring to the first official planting day in the garden. The date varies from year to year, depending on the weather, but it always arrives, exactly on time. Warm temps and sunshine yesterday signaled that this was it…time to don gardening clothes and gather empty pots and hand tools.
Because tomorrow the forecast calls for wintry weather again, I didn’t plant in the ground. But it was the perfect opportunity to weed, check on perennials that are pushing up through the ground, and tuck some annuals into clay pots. Greg at last got to finish burning the decorative grass stalks left over after trimming back the tall plants weeks ago. The “haystack” is gone.
After tidying up beds and pulling early weeds, I busied myself with what has become a yearly spring tradition. I planted flowers in the clay pots that fill Annie’s red wooden box on the front porch. This activity shifts me fully into spring mode, and connects me spiritually with my dear Aunt Annie, who passed away three years ago. This box was hers. I was allowed to bring it home as a keepsake. It graces my front porch.
I own a good pair of gardening gloves. They stayed on my hands for about five minutes then off they came. I love getting my hands in the dirt and physically connecting with the earth and the plants as I handle them. Although the gloves protect my hands when I’m working with decorative grasses or pulling weeds, I don’t like the barrier they create between me and living plants. Even the dirt is rich with life and I love using my hands instead of a trowel when I am planting.
Like so many other activities in my life, gardening is meditative for me. Planting, pruning, weeding and watering are good for the garden and good for me as well. Being busy in the garden gives me time to sort through things in my mind, heart and soul all while soaking up healing sunlight and breathing in fresh air. It is restorative to me, at a deep level.
And, gardening is rewarding to me. A little work transforms empty spaces or overgrown beds, bringing life and color where there was barrenness or dullness. I am rewarded as well, infusing my life with vibrancy.
Annie’s box turned out great. It looks a bit different every year, depending on the annuals I use. This year the pots nestled with the box are full of pink and white begonias. I lit candles near the box last night, as a nearly full moon rose to the east. The flickering white lights welcomed spring, and honored my aunt and my dad, whose death anniversary was yesterday. Beauty and peace filled my soul.
Day 4 of the 7 Day Hygge Challenge was a great follow up for Day 3. The spring weather held and I was grateful for an excuse to be outside as I shopped for plants. More vignettes were assembled today as well as I moved spring from the front porch into the house.
Thursday – Bring nature indoors
Being a gardener, I was excited about bringing new plants into the house today. In spite of the warm temps this week, it’s too early to be planting in the garden. I knew that for today’s hygge inspired activity, I wanted to incorporate living plants in my vignette. I’ve used cut flowers before, tulips or white daisies, in the vignette on my little dining room table. But today, I preferred living, growing plants that I can later transplant into my garden.
As I did on the front porch, I cleared away the previous vignette and started with a fresh space. I love this vintage wooden sieve that I purchased several years ago at an antique shop. And I knew exactly what I wanted to place beneath the wire cloches…herbs.
I picked up a couple of small, but full, oregano plants. Each one fit perfectly within a small container that I then dropped into a bright yellow ceramic basket. They will get adequate light through the large windows in the dining room. When the ground is warm enough, I will transplant these oregano plants into the herb garden.
Into the wooden sieve went vintage Easter décor, made by Leta Moore when she took ceramic classes as a young woman. I deliberately left an open spot in the sieve, for purple hyacinths that I purchased today as well. After trying out several containers for the bulbs, and discarding them, I finally settled on two clay pots. I tucked two plants into the larger pot with the chippy white paint, and a single flowering bulb into the smaller whitewashed one.
I liked the final results well enough. However, from the living room, an empty wooden box seemed to call to me. I was creating new vignettes on the entry table as well. I was curious to see how the potted hyacinths would look in that box that Greg had made for me.
As soon as I transferred the pots to the box, it felt absolutely right. That’s where the purple hyacinths in their pots belonged…here, not in the dining room. I learned during my Year of Journeys to go with the flow. I shifted and instead of creating one vignette that featured plants, I created two. When something clicks into place it is easy for me to complete my creative project, with little effort.
Into this attractive wooden box went the potted purple hyacinths, a pair of metal birds, with chippy paint of their own, and a white pillar candle. I used a small terra cotta pot as a candle holder. Beneath the box is a little wool runner featuring spring tulips. My cousin Mindy, who passed away in 2015, hooked this piece. The flower pots have trays underneath that will protect both the box and the table runner.
I love how that little vignette looks, and how it came together, even though I wasn’t working on the entry table yet. As the hyacinths grow they will add height and color to the vignette. They too will be transplanted into the garden later.
I filled the empty space in the wooden sieve with with a white footed bowl. Shirred cloth eggs, in soft pastel colors, are nestled within the bowl. And now I was pleased with this vignette. The colors within the sieve are harmonious and very spring-like, and the white plates with their herbs beneath cloches are nearby.
What fun to include these living plants in my vignettes today. As I cross the halfway mark in my hygge challenge week, I feel around me the coziness and connectedness that are this Scandinavian tradition’s hallmarks. It truly is a hygge spring.
I awoke this morning, with this children’s nursery rhyme in my head…Wakey, wakey rise and shine. You’ve had your sleep and I’ve had mine. I smiled, remembering the sing-sing chant. And glancing at the sunlight streaming in through the window, it was fitting. This was Wake the Garden Day, a celebratory holiday of my own making. It falls on different dates each year, depending on the weather and the severity of the winter. After a cold February with more than usual rain, snow and ice, Wake the Garden Day landed in March…on March 9, apparently!
I love this day for several reasons:
Although spring isn’t here yet officially, it’s rapidly approaching. This day of prepping the garden for the return of grasses, flowers and herbs signals that we’ve made it through another winter. The cold temps will soon be behind me and warmer, longer days are approaching. In fact, we switch to daylight savings time this weekend.
It’s great to spend the day in the garden. I leave up dry ornamental grasses and dead flower stalks, to create interest in my backyard paradise. The garden in winter has its own beauty. The brown, gray and tan remnants of last year’s season contrast with the snow or glisten with ice. That means as spring nears, there are many tasks to carry out: cutting back grasses, clearing away dead stalks, dividing plants that have grown too big and general clean up. It’s messy, hard work…and it is so rewarding!
As we worked, I was grateful for bright sunshine, sturdy work gloves, the right tools for the different jobs, and Greg’s assistance. The ornamental grasses were trimmed back and the bigger ones, divided. I left volunteer grasses growing in the garden from last fall. Those were all dug up today and bagged. I have 20 or more plants to give away.
Ornamental grasses nursery!
And a huge pile of trimmings to burn, on a less windy day.
I love this day because the results from our work are so immediate. It feels wonderful to clean up the beds and inspect for new growth. And it was evident. As we trimmed and cut away and raked, bright green shoots were uncovered. Tiny leaves are appearing on Russian sage plants and lemon balm and bee balm are pushing through the mulch in little clusters. The garden is stirring and that makes my heart sing.
As I observed the bare ground and tidied beds, after hours of work, I realized what I love most about singing wakey wakey to the garden. It teaches trust and deepens my faith. The straggling, messy remains from last summer are gone. The garden appears to be very empty. But I know, tucked beneath the earth’s surface, the roots of plants are awakening, gathering nutrients and strength, preparing to grow.
Every spring, I witness the miraculous…the return of life, of beauty. No matter how long the winter seems to last, it gives way, with grace, to spring, to rebirth. And where there appears to be nothing…in a couple of months there will be lush growth and riotous color. It’s never the exact same garden, as it shifts year to year, and yet it is always gorgeous.
Last year’s garden.
I am moved every year by the transformation.
I have a few more tasks to complete tomorrow…a lilac bush to trim back and the raised vegetable garden bed to prep. And then I wait and I watch. I’ll walk through the garden daily, softly singing wakey, wakey…and greet each plant, each flower that awakens into life with a joyful smile. Welcome back, my garden.
“Gardening is an active participation in the deepest mysteries of the universe.”
Although spring is still officially a couple of weeks away, it arrived for me yesterday. Already feeling the desire to do a spring cleaning and decluttering, I completely stripped my bed down, laundering everything. As I remade my bed last night, I deliberately left off the woven cotton blanket. That’s all it took to flip my spring switch.
I love this time of year, as the earth and my spirit both experience a reawakening. My creativity shifts into a higher mode as well. I recently shared a post about the hygge lifestyle that I’ve embraced. Hygge, pronounced hue • gah, is a Scandinavian custom that creates well being, connection and warmth. You can read that post HERE. When I think of hygge I think of candlelight and cozy blankets and a crackling fire. But hygge can be practiced and celebrated throughout the year.
I’ll be sharing ways to create a hygge lifestyle during every season. Today’s post celebrates the impending arrival of spring, with 15 ways to keep the cozy going.
1. Bring the outdoors in – Spring announces the earth’s awakening and the return of green plants and colorful flowers. Purchase bouquets of fresh flowers and display them in a white pitcher or your favorite container. Start flower and vegetables seeds indoors, for transferring to the garden, and plant tulip or daffodil bulbs in pots for a splash of spring colors indoors. Try tucking a blooming pansy into a tea cup filled with potting soil.
2. Brighten home décor – It’s time to pack away the darker colors. Freshen the house with lighter colored pillows and rugs, declutter spaces that have accumulated stuff all winter, and take down heavy draperies. Hang white or sheer curtains over the windows. Let the sunshine light in and on mild days, throw open the windows. The breezes that stir through the house cleanse away stale energy and lifts our spirits.
3. Switch out bedding & pjs – While changing home décor, switch out heavier bedding for lightweight cotton sheets, coverlets and quilts. Pile on the pillows. Swap flannel pjs for comfy cotton as well. Hygge is all about cozy layers. Trade heavy throws and blankets for piles of lightweight wraps, shawls and quilts for those evenings when the air is cool and you want to curl up with a good book.
4. Eat outdoors – Spring invites us to venture outside. Enjoy al fresco dining on a patio or porch. Use lots of linens and candles, and serve a healthy meal on your best plates.
5. Read a book outside – Stretch out on a reclining lawn chair or a colorful quilt on the ground and lose yourself in a book. Try a new author or select a book on a topic you’ve always been curious about.
6. Bake something – Hygge encourages nurturing ourselves with good food. Try out a new recipe. Bake from scratch. Create your own recipe. I’m excited to try recipes from my new Thrive magazine.
7. Go for a walk outdoors – Explore new walking trails, look for signs of spring, breathe in the cool air, go for a bike ride.
8. Create a fairy garden – Use a new or vintage container and create a miniature garden, complete with tiny accessories. Home garden stores and craft stores sell items for fairy gardens. And many plant shops offer classes on how to create your own small garden. I will be creating my first fairy garden in a vintage wheelbarrow this spring.
9. Play in the rain – With spring comes refreshing showers to help the earth awaken and growing plants to thrive. Grab an umbrella and enjoy the rain. Splash in puddles, tip your face to the sky, and if it is warm enough, forget the umbrella and experience dancing in the rain.
10. Continue using candles and essential oils – Candlelight isn’t just for the winter months. Use tea lights and white candles everywhere…indoors and on porches, patios and in the garden. Switch to lightly fragranced essential oils, such as lemon and lavender in the diffuser. Hang tiny white twinkling lights outdoors.
11. Do good deeds – Hygge promotes relationships and community and helping others. Volunteer. Practice acts of kindness. Remember to nurture yourself too.
12. Have a picnic at the park – This is another excellent way to enjoy being outside again after the cold short days of winter. Invite friends, throw down a big tablecloth and have everyone contribute to a smorgasbord type picnic. Or enjoy a solo picnic with your favorite foods. This is one of my Artist Date ideas that I look forward to carrying out.
13. Find a new favorite beverage – Winter hygge encourages hot drinks such as coffee, teas and cocoa. For spring try lighter drinks such as herbal teas, freshly pressed juices, flavored waters, and iced coffee. Brew mint tea, let it cool and serve over ice.
14. Keep fresh fruits & veggies on hand – A wide assortment of fruits and vegetables are coming into season. Keep a fruit bowl full of your favorites and try something new. Keep a veggie box or crate full as well. Try meatless dinners, using produce that is in season.
15. Celebrate – Find reasons to rejoice as everything around us stirs. Have brunch with friends, take a family member to dinner, welcome spring with a tea party for one…yourself. Whatever makes your heart sing, go and do that, in a celebratory way.
I hope some of these ideas got your creativity going. Spring is a time of rebirth, of new beginnings, and a promise that life continues. I will be embracing hygge and spring with a Seven Day Hygge Challenge, beginning Monday. Follow the posts and play along, or create your own cozy, comforting traditions. You can’t do hygge wrong if your celebrations create a sense of joy and warmth. May we open our hearts and our homes, and welcome spring.