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Garden Reports And Rejoicing – November 9

The weather was wonderfully warm the past two days so I seized the moment and dug my dahlia tubers. In the past I haven’t been too concerned with marking specific colors or types of dahlias, but this season we discovered the downside of that relaxed approach. Somehow we’d ended up with dozens of dark red flowers and fewer of everything else.

“Hmmm,” I say to myself. “This is why people label the stakes, or write on the tubers with Sharpies in the fall.” Lesson learned. As I dug I made sure that the plastic label saying “Lavender and White” or “Peach Cactus” stayed with the appropriate clump.

This fall I also fell in love with how the combination of bright red and peach dahlia blossoms looked along the fence between the veggie garden and Annual Alley. Although I’ve thought of this space as an area to experiment with different annuals every year, I know that I’d like to repeat that red/peach combo in 2012…and build on it, of course. I separated these tubers and in addition to color I designated them as “for fence.”

The carrot in this situation is knowing that a particular combination of plants and flowers will speak to my heart and lift my spirits. The stick is understanding that without taking some action, in this case labeling my dahlia tubers, I’m less likely to create the look I want.

One of the things I love about gardening is that we’re encouraged to pay attention and to move forward by taking advantage of what we’ve learned in past seasons. Yes, all of life is, or should be, like this…but the garden drives the lessons home with the carrot not the stick. We are rewarded with flowers, fresh vegetables, or lovely landscapes, and this urges us to refine our efforts in the future.

I’m wondering if for some people the tendency to focus on planting is stronger than the predilection for being outraged at unpleasant surroundings. Cultivating a better world takes both types, of course, but it might be worthwhile for each of us to contemplate where our attention is best placed.

Viewed from the vegetable garden, those red and peach dahlias were cheering.

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