What’s wrong with me? In a few days, it will be Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer, and my inner New York clock is telling me that I should be able to smell the first hints of an approaching autumn. Here in south Florida, however, summer is still the name of the game.
As I realize how much time has passed since my last post, I am aware of how frustrated and edgy I’m feeling. It has been an incredibly long time since I truly gardened.
When Joe and I first left New York as per my doctor’s orders, it was the tale end of a brutal winter and the garden was frozen under snow and ice. Upon arriving in Zone 10, it was the tale end of a delightful subtropical winter, just weeks before the start of the rainy season — which is a nice way of summing up heat, humidity, and sudden downpours.
Sure, I’ve tried to do some gardening. I’ve rooted some hibiscus clippings and potted some small Adonidia palm seedlings that had sprouted in the lawn — but by 10 a.m., I must retreat inside to get away from the heat and humidity and to look at the world through a window.
Many of the local nurseries seem to be wilting under the sun’s heat, as well — and the farmer’s market has dwindled considerably for the moment. Even the local garden club has taken a break in August. There just doesn’t seem to be too much happening in the gardening world down here.
So I busy myself by visiting other garden blogs and celebrating the blooms of my northern gardening friends. I only wish I had something to share.
If I didn’t know better, I’d say that I have cabin fever — but it seems ridiculous to even say such a thing. That affliction, which I’ve had, is more appropriate for northern gardeners during their snow-bound winter months. In fact, a local urban farmer, Michael Madfis of Flagler Village Farm, suggested I think of summer in south Florida as my winter, which means — according to this idea — that I now have spring fever, when it isn’t even spring.
It also means that part of me feels I should be gearing up for raking and bagging leaves, while another part of me should be getting ready to start seeds for winter planting. Never mind plants vs. zombies — it’s me vs. me.
Personally, I think I have Multiple Garden Personality Disorder — one gardener with two gardening experiences in two different zones, each wrestling for control of the gardener’s new situation.
Here is the moment when it became very apparent.
One especially hot morning, I was staring through the window at all of the greens — from vibrant green to dusty green to all shades of green in-between. Although there was the occasional dot of color from a hibiscus or bougainvillea, it occurred to me that I was living in a green desert.
I so badly wanted to step outside and work in the dirt — but to what end? The yard was a disaster, the result of a major building project. The heat was unbearable; no place for a young plant or someone with a heart condition. So I remained inside and wondered if I was perhaps experiencing a tropical depression.
Just then, the air conditioner clicked on and I felt the cool air hit the back of my neck — and suddenly those greens didn’t look so different from the newly emerging greens of a Long Island spring.
I lowered the thermostat even more and turned on the ceiling fan and — maybe it was a mirage, a figment of my overactive imagination, wishful thinking — but it actually felt as if a refreshing April breeze was blowing through an open window. I believed that it was spring. Two seasons battled for control of my mind.
Yes, I thought, this was the perfect day to seed, weed, clean, and design. I reached for the doorknob, turned it, and opened the door a small bit. As quickly as my air-conditioned air raced through the opening, so too did my grand plans for the day burst into flames.
In the time that I imagined that April breeze until now, someone had moved the Earth several thousand miles closer to the sun. I was blinded by the glare, my eyes burning in their sockets. My skin became crispy. My clothes clung to me as they became soaked with perspiration. The air was sucked from my lungs. I was like Claire in Outlander, only I wasn’t falling through time. I was falling from the frying pan into the fire.
Every Florida gardener I meet tells me to be patient. This is the final hurdle and my gardening days will be here. As if to demonstrate that point, a local nursery is getting a fresh coat of paint — and although I sweated just watching the painters, I felt that thrill inside of me — the same sort of thrill I felt in New York when the garden centers began to stock up to get ready for spring.
In the meantime, I keep looking for signs that cooler, gardening friendly weather is coming. In a few days, the forecast is calling for highs no higher than 92 degrees.
And that’s a start.