Well, the changeable weather made a liar out of me. I told you in an update Thursday night that we’d been bypassed completely by the snow storm. Friday morning told a different story, although the evidence had melted away by about 9:30 a.m.
We did get a sprinkling of the white stuff. Less than an eighth of an inch, I would guess, and it only stuck in a few patio planters, on the moss that covers the shady edges of the forest, and on the garden beds — but strangely not on the paths.
A light dusting landed atop the homemade support for the summer’s cucumbers and cardinal climber vines, the one I fondly referred to as “mophead,” if you remember that far back.
The whole support was created from dead branches found in the forest and roped together with twine. The vines ended up not appreciating the top of the structure, a fat branch, bigger around than my hand can curl. I suppose it was too wide for the tendrils to snake around, and it had been weathered too smooth for a proper grip.
Once the vines clambered up and over this branch and tangled en masse about two feet above it, the whole made a strong visual statement, a slightly downward-leaning slash just visible behind the screen of foliage and blossoms, and I delighted to see it every morning from my open bedroom window. The bright structure, almost always busy with hummingbird and bee visits, was often the first sight of my day.
When my sister complimented me on its placement and design, though, I had to admit that it was a happy accident. F. insisted on using branches, because that was the way he’d learned to grow things and he couldn’t understand paying money for bamboo poles, and my grandfather had always urged me to use sticks and other woodland debris in his lessons.
Until this year, though, I always used bamboo poles and cages and galvanized pea fences bought from the nursery. I don’t really know why. Perhaps because a lifetime of advertisements and garden catalogs and posh gardening magazines did have an influence. Or perhaps because I’d grown up too citified after all. Using a branch just seemed, well, weird.
Now, though, I’m definitely a convert to the use-what-Nature-gives-you-for-free method of garden support, and my sister has joined up, too, after seeing the half-runner beans lovingly smothering rustic trellises in a gorgeous display that could go in the best cottage garden design book.
I don’t know why it works so well, particularly since economy, not beauty, was foremost in our minds. But I have a theory that somehow the plants recognize these materials from the woods as kindred spirits, and resonate with them in a way they never could with galvanized pea fence. There’s a sense of harmony in their pairings that I want in my gardens forevermore.
We’ve torn down most of the supports, of course, to be able to prep the soil for winter. We didn’t even have to store them, just compost the spent plants and biodegradable cotton twine, and toss the remaining branches back into the forest.
Mophead is the only one left standing. A few days after the first light freeze, I collected seed from its hundreds of seed pods, so the vines are quite bare. Nothing much to look at really.
Yet the snow seemed to highlight some lingering trace of the magic of this summer, just for a moment yesterday morning. Capturing that essence in a photograph proved difficult, so that I wonder if it’s just me who can see it, because I know intimately all that came before.
Of course it’s always hard to hold on to the subtle, individual magic of a particular moment; isn’t it? Maybe that’s why we’re always being given new ones…