Some time ago on New Year’s Eve, when living in San Francisco, I visited a friend who was Chinese. Upon entering her home, she and her husband, also Chinese, were busy dusting and organizing in furious fashion. “The Chinese consider it very important to sweep away any bad luck that may have accumulated over the past year,” she said. “However,” she added. “One mustn’t sweep on New Year’s Day, lest you sweep away good luck!”
The image of my friends cleaning in earnest always stayed with me, and in these past few days I have been in high mode readying my home and garden as if I were preparing for absolution. I am struck by the concept of putting to rest the past and taking on fresh starts. There is something about the so-called clean slate that excites me to create and dream as if life were starting all over. I think the Chinese honor this concept very well.
Merlin’s Garden in particular is in dormant mode but this in particular is an important part of preparation for new starts. With spring just around the corner there is plenty to do. Winter garden chores include:
- Cleaning up perennials
- Pruning deciduous trees and bushes; in fact, December and January are great months to prune back the roses
- Fluffing mulch with a rake
- Cleaning, sharpening and oiling garden tools
Of course, scanning seed catalogs and visiting the nursery to eye the bare root trees and shrubs can be great fun.
So, what follows the clean-up? Endless possibility. The inner gardener is the most important part. She too needs a clean slate on which to dream. I am putting together a dream book filled with magazine pictures I have collected over the past year. It is filled with images of gardens, special rooms, people in action I wish to emulate in my own life as well as my own hopes for Merlin’s Garden. It is the inner life I hope to mirror in the outer world one day.
So, go ahead and clean. And then take the time to dream. The promise of spring and all that blooms in its wake awaits!