A green space for urban gardeners

Year two: The promise of spring, renewal, and all that jazz

To my mind, winter was made so that we could more fully experience the exquisite bliss of the awakening of spring.

In fact, in more sentimental moments, I feel downright sorry for my gardening buddies languishing in tropical climes (smile).

OK, so they have non-stop blooms, lush color and the life that gardens bring to your world all year-round. But, hear me out, what they miss is the buildup of longing (sort of like the night before Christmas), the breathless waiting for a transformation — both of landscape and spirit.

This time of year as I revel in the gradual change of season I always find myself humming Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “The Waters of March” and reflecting on its lyrics: “afloat, adrift/a flight, a wing/a hawk, a quail/the promise of spring/and the riverbank talks/of the waters of March/it’s the promise of life/it’s the joy in your heart.”

At a little over two weeks into the season, that promise is high with Chicago’s appetite already whetted by early days of temps in the 70s. And though the last two days were a bit chilly, try as she might, Mother Nature just can’t un-ring the bell…

Spring has arrived, and not just in name only. You can feel it, smell it, sense it in the air; and around here both man and beast are rapt with anticipation of the garden season that will follow in its wake.

Surveying my 5 x 12 balcony, I’ve already started to create a picture in my head of the garden I’ll cultivate over the course of the next weeks. Even my cat seems to be thinking ahead to the time when the dead, brown flat of grass will be replaced with a lush bed of green like last summer.

Other signs of spring: cleaners, out in force, lowered themselves down the sides of our condo building putting spit and polish on our windows onto the season; what appeared to be a downy woodpecker perched on the arm of an electric blue adirondack chair on my balcony (unfortunately, he flew away before I could record his visit for posterity); and, April showers have been our constant companion this past week.

Another thing that marked the passing of a year and the dawn of a new garden season for me was the one-year anniversary of this blog. CityDiggity launched the end of March 2009 and I’m thrilled to be embarking on a new season of adventures in urban gardening.

I’ll leave you with this YouTube video of Filipino bossa stylist Sofia performing Jobim’s “Waters of March,” maybe it’ll become your anthem of the season, too.

[photos: a yellow and orange marigold from last season (top), and my cat gnawing on the dried remains of his grass last month]


  Jo wrote @

Awww, your cat must be willing those green shoots to show up. I agree, there is a longing for spring after winter, especially a long, cold one like we’ve just experienced. Some things are a little late this year, but that just makes us long for them even more.

  Stephanie wrote @

Avis! I am excited for you. You have done a good job to your garden last season. Love the blue chairs and lights you created. Are you going to do that again? I am glad you are embarking on another gardening adventure. I can’t wait to read of your progresses and see what kind of flowers you are getting this season. Good luck and happy spring!

  Pam’s English Garden wrote @

Avis, Sometimes I envy those able to garden year-round because they can set a steady work pace. In our zone, we have such an exhausting frenzy of work in spring. But I wouldn’t swap places. Your post, and the lovely video, reminded me of my blessings. Have a happy spring. Pamela x

  Wendy wrote @

That is a REALLY catchy and feel-good song!

I totally feel the same way you do. Sometimes I’m really jealous of people in the tropics who can have blooms year round, tropical fruit, other food that require a long season, but honestly, I REALLY need my rest during the winter – I get very excited, do lots of planning, and have what I call wintertime amnesia (when I forget all my failures of the past season!). Then of course on a day like today – I open the door and say, “it’s so glorious out” (and my 5 year old goes, “mom , you say that every day” ). There’s a different smell, different feel, etc. You can fully experience it without fully feeling winter as well.

  vrtlaricaana wrote @

I would never change my 4 season garden for a tropical one. This is honestly. The most enjoying thing about nature is to see it change, winter to spring, summer to fall… it is priceless.

Congratulations on first blog anniversary, and many more!

  linda wrote @

I do enjoy the quiet, slower pace of winter and the gardening break, although I could do without the cold! Then spring comes along, and I’m energized and ready to go again!

I’m looking forward to seeing what you do with your gardening space this season Avis.

I LOVE A. C. Jobim, and this is my favorite song of his.

  Fly Girl wrote @

I never knew you liked Jobim! I have a whole CD of Brazilian tunes that I bought at my loctician’s last week, playing right now. I bet you didn’t feel the same way about winter when you were living in Florida. That photo of Melon is adorable.

  MrBrownThumb wrote @

Happy Blogaversary, Avis. Can’t wait to see what the new gardening season has in store for your balcony garden.

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