Gardening From The Ground Up

After my forced break from the garden, I’m making up for lost time. I’ve been outdoors pulling weeds, sorting compost, preparing planting beds and doing general cleanup every day for weeks.

freesia collage

The freesia are in bloom all over the garden

I’m in the garden for a few minutes in the morning after returning from school drop-off. If I’m working with clients or have other appointments, then I put in my time at the end of the day.

lemon tree buds and leaves in the rain

Meyer’s Lemon Tree Enjoying the Rain

The weekend affords the luxury of a few hours in a row, even with our recent and welcome rain.

Chronic neck pain, a wonky hip and my tender ankle tend to dictate the duration. I enjoy working in the cooler weather and even the rain but once my various ailments begin to act up, it’s time to pack it in for the day.

About a year ago I bought a garden kneeler with handles. I’ve seen pictures of them in catalogs for years. I once used a foam pad for shifting around the garden, but it’s become increasingly harder to get back up without pain.

The pictures generally feature a “mature” woman using the kneeler. Only recently did it occur to me that I’m a mature woman. In my mind I’m perpetually thirty. How disconcerting.

I got over myself and bought the kneeler.

gardenease kneeling bench

Kneeling in the garden

Word of the Year

I chose “health” as my word this year. It’s interesting how much of life’s enjoyment comes down to our personal well-being.Β  I’ve reduced my consumption of sugar, with some slip ups here and there. I’ve kept a food and exercise diary through MyFitnessPal for the past 66 days. Now that I’ve been on such a long streak, I find that I don’t want to miss a day. Logging what I eat is also eye-opening. It feels good to be back to Pilates classes two days a week, and I’m back to long walks as well. The weight is coming off slowly though, which seems so unfair [insert pouting face here].Β  I’m not giving up, but find it disappointing when week after week the scale doesn’t budge and the pants remain snug. I think we’re conditioned to think that if we do everything “right” we should see the results. Does this happen to you?

The first day of spring in California is March 20th this year. I’ll be planting heirloom tomatoes, basil and maybe, just maybe, a few pumpkins. I have a new and improved watering system which I will share in another post.

When autumn rolls around, I say it’s my favorite time of year. Then spring unfolds and I’m in love with the color, the birdsong and the freshness of it all.

I think I’ve made up my mind: I can’t possibly choose sides.

51 thoughts on “Gardening From The Ground Up

  1. Glad to see you back at it…it slowly. Isn’t the rain wonderful?! Working on weight is like waiting for seeds to grow…stop watching and waiting, and then one day you turn around…and viola! Keep at it. It will happen.

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    • Thank you! It’s good to be back. And yes, this rain is wonderful. It lifts my spirits and energizes me. It’s also perfect gardening weather.

      I *love* your seed-growing analogy. Thank you for that. Your support means a lot.

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  2. How wonderful to be back enjoying the thing you love most again! I smiled when you mentioned only just realising that the term “mature woman” applies to you as I feel the same!

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  3. Yes, of course, we all get impatient when we’re doing everything “right” and the weight doesn’t come off! But you’re benefitting yourself in 1000 other ways so keep at it!

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  4. Lovely post Alys. I know what you mean about thinking you are still in your thirties… I will reach the big half century mark this autumn and just cannot believe I am that old! No wonder my body does not want to bend in the garden for hours on end without complaining for a couple of days afterwards! You have reminded me I have a kneeler… I will go and get it out now and must start using it more often. πŸ™‚ Take it easy with the gardening and keep up the good work with your diet and exercise routine. It will pay off soon. πŸ˜‰

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    • Thank you, Cathy! Do you have anything planned for your 50th? I have a friend that calls them zero birthdays. She plans something big for each decade.

      It’s hard when your body will no longer cooperate with you. I remember spending hours in the garden, only coming in for short breaks and refreshments before heading out again, often working till dusk (and the mosquitoes) showed up.

      You have a kneeler, too! Sometimes I forget that I have it, too, so I’m trying to keep it in a more accessible place.

      Thanks for the moral support. Long live mature gardeners. xo

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      • I used my kneeler yesterday and today… did lots of tidying up now that it is just a little bit warmer. It certainly eases my back. Hope my knees don’t start complaining! No plans for the ‘zero’ birthday yet, but thinking about the alternatives is fun!

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  5. Well now, I would have never guessed you have all those aches and pains. Your sure get an awful lot done for a ‘mature woman’. I’m adopting that terminology too. I think we’re two years apart so I’m riding your coat tails into our ‘Happy Ever-after Party’. Probably some swanky patio on Vancouver Island, overlooking the Pacific πŸ˜€
    Glad you found a Kizmo to help you in the garden. Why stay away when it brings you so much joy? BTW, your flower photo’s are sublime. I biggy-fied them to see all the gorgeousness. I’m making up an awful lot of words today but there just aren’t enough in the english language to articulate my true feelings, LOL. I see all that super tidy mulch and can only imagine the weeding that goes on. Bravo Ms M, Bravo xoxo K

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    • I adore your made-up words. I make up song lyrics. [snicker]
      My neck pain is chronic, stemming back to an automobile accident when I was 21. I have stenosis causing numbness in my right arm and a few fingers, and any prolonged positioning of my neck other than neutral tends to cause me pain. You knew about the foot of course and the hip thing is newish. How tiresome getting by in an older model. Ha!

      Two Mature Women in Search of a Happy Ever-after Party. Sounds like a great book and movie. I’ll play you and you can play me. Deal?

      Thanks for cheering me on. I’m glad you enjoyed the freesias. I could smell them all day long. Every year around this time I tell myself I’m going to plant more, more, more. They’re colorful, fragrant, and apparently easy to grow. The squirrels leave them alone, too.

      Big hugs. xo

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      • I’d love to play you in our movie :D, I’d get to have beautiful long wavy strawberry blonde hair and have the biggest, most generous heart ever. Our movie would be totally Hollywood, the ‘feel-good’ movie of the summer and neither of us would have any aches or pains. If aliens invade, we’ll invite them for tea. If a tornado is eminent, it’ll just sweep Trump away and whiz out to the pacific and all lost pets find their way to our giant garden. Oh, and we have a driver, played by Chris Pine, who zooms us over to our Freesia Farm in an aqua electric VW van! LOL xo !

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        • You’ve totally missed your calling as a screenwriter, my dear. What a fun script you’ve put together for us. Yes, yes, Chris Pine of course. We should ping him now to make sure he’s available when we need him. A Trump Tornado? Now why didn’t I think of that. You’re brilliant.

          Aliens for tea, got it. A garden for rescued pets, yup. Maybe Ellen will be in our movie too, and we can give away the proceeds to animal groups around the globe.

          xo

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          • Teehee, I’m certain my little screenplay would be accused of highjacking a few summer blockbuster from the past. Tornadoes, Aliens, Driving Ms Boomdee…..sound familiar? LOL Somehow we’d have to fit an iceberg in there, HA! Maybe it’d be a musical too? Could you learn to tap dance? Or they could just film us from the shoulders up, ya, I like that plan. xoxo πŸ˜€ BTW, of course we’d build a rescue barn with the millions we’d make ❀

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            • Every summer blockbuster is a rip off from the last. We’ll be in good company.

              I took a semester of tap dance in college. I can Shuffle off the Buffalo if you like. I’m pretty rusty though. And we already have a theme song: I love the flowers, ….fade to Boomdeeada, Boomdeeada…

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  6. What a delight to see you in your beautiful garden, Alys! I use a garden kneeler to help me for big jobs, as well. I used to spend the entire day in the garden. Now, after three hours, my body tells me to stop for the day. I’m forced to rest, with a good book, on the front porch!

    We are still several weeks away from gardening season in the Midwest. Although our temperatures are milder now, we could still have a few more big snows. Our planting day in Zone 5 is May 15th. It’s one of my favorite days of the year! My heart sings as I plant our containers for the front porch and the deck. Just can’t wait to be back tending my perennials and herbs in the spring!

    Congratulations on your wonderful progress with your ‘One Little Word,’ dear Alys! Sixty-six days… and counting! I’m cheering you on! Big hugs! β™‘

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    • Dawn, I’m delighted to hear that you, too, have a garden kneeler. What a great invention. Like you, I too could spend the day outdoors. I’m focusing now on the fact that I can still get out there and enjoy myself while take advantages of these tools at hand.

      Gosh, May 15th sounds like a long time away. California gardeners are quite spoiled. I’m glad you plant out on that day and celebrate the season. I hope you’ll share photos of your front porch containers when you’re all done.

      Thank you for cheering me on, Dawn. I hope you continue to feel better and that the colder days are fewer and fewer in the days ahead. Hugs!

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  7. My favorite part of this post was the raindrops!!! It was so good to see them on your beautiful plants. I will be out there next week when we finally get a little dry between the drops. πŸ™‚ After TS returns from a week in Hawaii with the ex, (yes, you read that right), I’ll have him start building my planting beds. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything I want to do. I like your kneeling bench. That will make some good upper body muscles too. I have fallen deeply down the well of good intentions with the week in Phoenix. Just getting back to normal now. Read a quote in my Chicken Soup book last night (someone is trying to tell me something) “health is my wealth” followed by “my food equals my mood.” So it’s back to work again. Just catching up with the rest and I’m going all out to feel better. Take it easy on yourself. Mother nature handles the big stuff if we trust. πŸ™‚ Have some pickled garlic. It will help the immune system. πŸ™‚ Big hugs and welcome to maturity. πŸ™‚

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    • Marlene, I’m delighted to read that TS and the Ex (is that a TV show too?) are vacationing together in Hawaii. That’s extraordinary. Further, I’m delighted to hear that he’ll be building planting boxes for your garden on his return. You’ve been a traveling family this month.

      I agree with your assessment, too, that especially this time of year, there is more to be done then time in the day. I feel like I’m racing the clock.

      I can relate to the “well of good intentions”, especially when a vacation is involved. Eating yummy food feels celebratory. Those are great quotes, especially “my health is my wealth.” Without that we’re sunk.

      So I looked at the jar of garlic for a few days before trying it (picky eater here) but with your encouragement I cracked the lid and tried it. It tastes just like my favorite sweet pickles!!! What a nice surprise. I’m not sure why such trepidation since I like garlic too. Thank you for sending it.

      Big, big, big hugs, Marlene. Have fun in your garden.

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      • Yay!!! I’m so glad you liked the garlic!!!! There are so many flavors of it out there. Some much better than others. It’s best coming from a mom & pop company. I fed the kids extra today before their trip to Hawaii. Airplane and hotel air plus lots of strangers. Eve owns a daycare so she is always exposed. You are right, that would make a good TV show. They do fine together now that they aren’t married. She can only be the administrator of her preschool, not him. πŸ™‚

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  8. I agree! My Joanna has her 45th birthday this month and I can’t see how that computes at all! Numbers become totally senseless! I’m pretty sure it was just a couple of years ago I was 45 ……….. It is all about how we think of ourselves I guess – I see women younger than me who not only look older, they act ‘older’. And I notice they have bought into all the things we are supposed to have and be as we age – illness, aches, pains, prescription medicines for this that and the other, and an attitude of ‘what can I do, it’s my age.’ I believe what the Eastern Philosophers say, as the body ages and weakens, the soul grows younger and stronger. I never felt more me πŸ™‚ As to weight – well, for three years, as you know, I have been without processed foods, sugar and wheat in my usual diet. While the congestion has disappeared and all the ailments have flown away, the weight stubbornly remains. I don’t like it and therefore find it hard to ‘love my roundness’……….. but that is my task it appears. Sigh! πŸ™‚ I’m off to Wellington, have a good weekend Alys – enjoy your spring!

    PS I feel the same way – Spring and Autumn vie for most popular season with me ❀ ❀ ❀
    PPS I totally love your kneeler and would so have one if I had any room for it πŸ™‚

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    • I agree with your assessment of women looking and “acting” older. I think some people get stuck at a certain stage, and never move forward. They wear the same hairstyle and clothes, re-read the same books without every trying new ones and seem to age in place. I wonder what that is about? You have a wonderful grace that exudes youthfulness all about you. I like the eastern philosophy of the soul growing younger and stronger.

      You’ve done so much for your health and well being. It seemed to me in our recent Skype that you had dropped some weight. I know you stay away from the scale, but if you’re feeling better and stabilizing your health, perhaps more weight loss will follow. At the same time, good for you for valuing your “roundness.” I’m stubbornly refusing to give up just yet, but should probably have a medical physical soon to rule out anything else…she say’s hopefully.

      Have a terrific time in Wellington. We’re headed to Carmel for the weekend, a rare get-away for just the two of us. M. is off for a trip with his friend for a birthday weekend, while C. is studying for his next set of finals. Then he’ll be home for a week. March is really shaping up nicely.

      Happy travels and hugs to Jo.

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  9. Good to see you back in the garden, Alys. I can’t wait until the 26th March when I will be home again and can start snuffling around mine too. It’s been too long. The kneeler looks like a great investment, I’m tempted myself. I know what you mean about the non-shifting weight thing, mine isn’t budging either, it’s extremely frustrating….

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    • Aileen, it seems to be a common theme among the folks commenting here: that stubborn weight. My body seems to think it needs more padding. My weight goals aren’t excessive, but boy are they hard to achieve. I’m excited to hear you’ll be back in your garden in just a few weeks. I hope you’ll post some updates. Have a wonderful weekend.

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      • I’ve just read this article, which I thought you might find interesting, Alys. It suggests that drinking cold water with a meal may aid weight loss.

        Some claim that drinking beverages with meals is bad for your digestion. Others say it can cause toxins to accumulate, leading to a variety of health issues. But can drinking a glass of water with your meals really have negative effects? Or is this just another myth? Here is an evidence-based review of how liquids […]
        Drinking Liquids with Meals: Good or Bad?
        Authority Nutrition, Drink Water!, Consuming beverages with meals, MS, Alina Petre, Digestion
        http://ourgreennation.org/2016/03/10/drinking-liquids-with-meals-good-or-bad/

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        • Helen, thanks for this article. I had the chance to read it last night. I have heard that drinking cold water requires you to burn more calories to warm it up. Interesting. In Japan, they drink hot tea with meals, the opposite of a cold beverage. I guess the best thing to do is experiment with what works for you. Great site, too.

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  10. Congrats on getting into the health swing. Your garden is lovely. I’m still periodically pulling out my little cushion when I want to kneel. I like the idea of those kneelers with the handles because they can also double as a seat, yes? In any event, you aren’t the only ‘mature’ woman who feels somewhere close to thirty. That’s a good thing, though.

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    • Thank you, Lisa. Many of the kneelers do double as a seat, but this one has rounded ergonomic handles, so it can’t be reversed. I know the one you mean though. If I sit at all to pull weeds, it’s usually on my hip/side. My ankle is still uncomfortable in the squatting position, so I’m trying to find that sweet spot of comfort and efficiency.

      I agree that feeling thirty in our heads is a good thing. It keeps us feeling young and vital. I wish my body could keep up!

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  11. You are so cute. I could just hear you saying “thats so disconcerting” I feel the same way. I have no idea how old I am until I tell the girls a story and realize how long it has been since these things happened. That kneeler thingy looks comfy (well, more comfy than kneeling on the ground, anyway) Glad to hear you are doing better and taking good care of yourself. The benefits will come but we “mature women” know it takes longer to see the differences

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    • Hi Betsy! Thanks for commenting.

      Having kids does make you realize the passage of time, especially those of us who became a parent later in life. I had the boys at 37 and 40). I realized the other day, for instance, that Glenn Sweet has been cutting my hair for 30 years. Crazy, eh?

      I hope your munchkin is doing better. Sending love.

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  12. That kneeler caught my eye and read your post. Good for you Alys on keeping track of your food. I can relate to body aches and frustration with weight gain. You are making progress by paying attention to your health and making changes. Good for you. You inspire me! Btw I think the same about those 2 seasons. When Autumn comes I say it’s my favorite, then Spring comes and I love the colorful trees and flowers. just realized maybe we don’t have to have “a” favorite. Like Spring you bring color and new life with your personality and positive inspiration!

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    • Maria, you say the nicest things! Thank you. I’m slowly coming to terms with that fact that I need to make permanent changes to the way I eat, not just temporary ones. It’s one of the most challenging things I’ve faced, and it seems I face it over and over again. I got away with extra-curricular eating when I was young and remained thin into my forties. It’s been a big shock this past decade.

      Big hugs and thanks for stopping by.

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  13. I hear you about expecting results! I hope you experience rewards for all your diligence soon. I’ve seen those kneelers too and have wondered if I should get one. The look super handy…and kneesy….send backsy. πŸ™‚

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    • πŸ™‚ It’s one of those things that once you have it, you’ll wonder why you put it off. I’m sure it would be useful indoors, too, but only if you put a soft layer underneath it so you don’t scratch your floors.

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