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Welcome back to our monthly newsletter as we all welcome the changing of the seasons! Sitting down to write the newsletter after a winter hiatus has helped me to get a quiet moment to reflect. Specifically my thoughts have been on how I would like to communicate about us, The Natural Garden, and to you, our community, as we begin this new season.
Winter though, also provides me with some much-needed down time. I definitely appreciate the extra time to think and read and play. The recent snowstorm brought Karl and I out to just play. Knowing that the warm weather would soon begin, we remembered the joy of sledding and tumbling through fresh snow. The outdoor playground that the snow creates is magical.
This winter I was also encouraged by a friend to take part in a book challenge, choosing books I might not otherwise have on my list to read. The time to do some reading and reconnecting to stories and places always seems to bring a restful reflection to the larger stories in my life.
As our company moves from winter’s reflective hibernation, I remember the words of John Muir:
Everybody needs beauty as well as
bread, places to play in and pray
in, where nature may heal and
give strength to body and soul.
Those words help me feel re-connected to our purpose here at The Natural Garden in a new way. It seems to happen every spring, but this year I feel especially ready. Welcome spring! And from all of us here, we extend an invitation to you to get in touch with us to talk about your outdoor spaces, your ideas, dreams and needs.
We will return to the Harrisonburg Farmers Market and start up at the Friendly City Food Co-op this spring with native, edible, herbal, and medicinal plants. We will be selling flower shares through our bicycle bouquet delivery and will continue our habitat landscape installations, our tailored garden design, traditional stonework, and habitat restoration services. You can view pictures of our work on our website and facebook page. We feel awake and energized and look forward to hearing from you soon!
MY FAVORITE TREE
This winter has seen us doing a lot of organizing as we have watched snow come down and waited for spring to come. Recently, organizing photos of this past year’s projects was particularly full of longing for the lush growing season. The most recent snow, along with the knowledge of warmer weather to come, has me so full of anticipation for buds and blooms. During the last big snow storm with memories of green in my mind I thought of one of my most favorite trees, the Eastern Cottonwood or Populusdeltoides.
I doubt that the Cottonwood tree is at the top of many people’s favorite tree lists. With its heavy seeding, wood that is too weak to be used for woodworking or even firewood, and large root system that can spread quickly it seems to be lacking for human use and co-habitation. But, this is precisely why I have such respect and intrigue for the Cottonwood. This tree is good at being wild and stately, and it is best left in tree form in rural habitats.
Cottonwoods grow quickly and the canopy structure they form in later years is large and open, spreading out over streams, rivers and ponds providing shade for water creatures. The female tree seed capsules open up (usually around May) and the breeze broadcasts a “snowfall” of tufted white seeds, like cotton blowing through the air. I love to sit under an old Cottonwood and watch its vertically flat leaves shimmer in summer breezes; watching and listening to the dance of leaves and the flight of the seeds all in the protection of an enormous canopy is magic.
This tree is the symbol for me ofabundance, the goodness of what a wild eco-system in tact could be like. Within the shade of a canopy, water, wind, and seed all present and moving towards something. Perhaps you will find yourself under a Cottonwood this spring.
Jonathan started at The Natural Garden in February 2015 and has lived in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County since 1992. A father of two, a founding worker-owner of The Little Grill Collective in 2003, and a board member of Our Community Place since 2000, Jonathan brings over ten years of experience related to book keeping,financial management, and financial planning.
"From a young age, I was always good with numbers, computers, and keeping things organized. This has helped me to be successful at book keeping and finances for some of Harrisonburg's most special places. But, it is the mountains that are my first love. The beauty and wonder of the natural world, especially of The Shenandoah Valley, move me deeply. I am excited to be working with such an inspiring group of people here at The Natural Garden who also know and understand the value of nature and its ability to heal, nurture, and teach."