Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Gardening Outdoors in February

Little Cuter's weather has been Midwestern winter - sunny when it's not snowing, temperatures hovering just above zero,  the wind blowing ice crystals sharply into her face, slushy roads causing accidents all over the place.

Here in Tucson it's a different story entirely.  This is what I saw from my desk this weekend.  
Wishing I had a true telephoto lens, I watched the tiny yellow and black finches and the red breasted little brown things devouring the rosemary hedge. The dried crepe myrtle buds were another stop on their buffet.  It takes a lot of energy to migrate, and the bees from the saguaro seemed willing to share the bounty.  

The cardinals perching on top of the saguaro surveyed the scene, swooping down to scare off the tinier birds every once in a while, just to remind everybody who was in charge.  It was a science filmstrip from 3rd grade come alive.  I was mesmerized as I followed all 46 minutes of a Pilates on Vimeo barre class, using the desk as the barre and the saguaro as a focal point.  

I do not miss long snowy winters at all.  And to remind myself of the wonderfulness of gardening outside in the middle of winter, I put on my new Xmas gloves, grabbed my giant IKEA blue bag and a pair of Felco clippers, tucked my kneeling pad under my arm and headed out to prune the rock roses in front.  

Cutting back roses is hard for me.  The older stalks without much new growth are easy enough.  Removing seemingly healthy branches gives me pause.  I start tentatively, but then the fever strikes and I move around the plant, looking for sprouts to snip.  It becomes immensely satisfying.

It's also extremely painful.

My roses are in the ground, and pruning means kneeling.  My ability to scootch over easily vanished with my perforations; moving around the plant means I have to unbend and bend again while repositioning the kneeler and my tools.  

Being upright and grabbing my little rake without bending my knees isn't an issue, it's moving my hip that does me in.  

Bound and determined to finish the entire bed along the front walkway, I enjoyed the work in the sunshine and the cutting and the ever growing pile of detritus in the big blue bag.  Deb the MailLady called out from her little mail wagon and we chatted across the front yard before I moved on to the rest of the roses.

And then I stood up. 

There was still work to be done, and my heart wanted to do it.  My body had other ideas.  I assessed the situation, and asked the hard questions : Will it be fun?  Will the hurt get in the way?  

And I put the tools in the potting shed and went inside to brag about making a smart decision when I looked at my arm.  It's hard to feel good about taking care of myself when my arm is bleeding through my shirt.
Roses have thorns.  I felt them as they were going in, but didn't pay much attention (cf the fever, above).  Apparently, the thorns were trying to fulfill their mission in life.  Apparently, I was not deterred. I probably should have been.

The shirt and I will survive, and so will my hip.  I'm never going to complain about anything that happens to me outside, in the garden, in February.  It just would not be right.


  1. Lemon trees and bougainvilleas are also vicious plants. Reaching for a lemon off the tree has more than once drawn blood, I guess they really don't want to share.

    1. :-)
      the bougies are totally terrifying. I let the gardeners deal with them.


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