Shelley Pederson: There is so much to be thankful for, this week and all year round

Published 9:00 am Saturday, November 30, 2019

The Perennial Buzz by Shelley Pederson

Shelley Pederson


“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” — Marcel Proust

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November, for many of us, means gratitude. Becoming mindful of the blessings we have in our lives — our family and our friends. Blessings of our homes and gardens. This Thanksgiving marks one year after losing my father-in-law, Nyles; the only grandfather my kids ever knew. Nyles was important in their lives and was a keeper of the earth; a strong proud Norwegian who provided well for his family.

My husband and I went to Minnesota Landscape Arboretum this summer (a must do) and he liked the huge weeping Norway spruce that is at the first bridge. It is about 6- to 8-feet-wide and maybe 10 feet tall. It is mostly upright with just the topmost portion weeping over the bridge.

He wanted a tree like this to plant in memory of Nyles. I drove up to Turtle Creek in Owatonna and they had not only weeping spruces, but two more pines I fell in love with: an Oregon Austrian spruce and an Acrocona Norway spruce; decisions. All are smaller pines, and I was thinking where I could put them.

My husband looked at them. I really wanted all three and they were, after all, on sale. Then the weather turned on us; freezing temperatures and snow. I assess some rearranging and the removal of an ornament tree that never ornamented. By the time I went back, the trees were gone! Workers were in the final stages of covering the leftover trees in straw and a tarp. I run in a panic. No! And to my pure joy, the last trees being covered were the Oregon spruce and the weeping Norway. The Acrocona was already buried deep for winter. The young men pull my two trees out, and the owner promises me the Acrocona in the spring. My awesome neighbor, Jeff, hauled them home for me.

Already at home is another pagoda dogwood, which at this point in time is my favorite tree. It grows in layers like a pagoda. The new foliage is red, turning green; it blooms massive white blooms, sets dark purple berries and has brilliant red fall color. The berries stay on until spring, when the early robins come through and clean them up.

The fall planting went well. The topsoil was not frozen, and I got them watered in well. Apparently, young pines should be wrapped in netting to reduce the evaporation of water out of the needles and protect the young branches from heavy snow. The netting allows for respiration and the trees won’t get to hot.

Whew, done with late fall planting. Wrong — my pixie fairy flower friend Holly calls and has bags of bulbs she bought on clearance for me. Another two weeks have passed from tree planting and my ground is frozen by the 14th. I was able to dig down below the 2-inch frost and the soil was in good shape. I have planted bulbs on Thanksgiving weekend during a mild fall. This will be a true test if it was too late. The 300 or so bulbs are planted and watered in. Will they root? Will my pines make it this late? I feel good that they will.

Driving home after yoga, there was a stunning sunset with pinks, purples, golds, oranges, blues and a large silhouette of a tree. The tree made me think of Nyles, and I know he has blessed my garden. Gratitude to my neighbors, my friends, my family, my husband and incredible kids. Gratitude to garden centers and their hard-working staff. Gratitude to God and his never-ending miracles on this earth.

Shelley Pederson is a perennially busy master gardener, lover of nature and student of life.