Who Has Seen The Wind…*

The wind was ceaseless, blowing steadily with strong gusts for several days. The sound of it whooshing across the rippled ridges of the metal roof was disturbing, like we were out to sea on a raft without protection from the elements, even though we were nestled safely in the loving arms of the lazyboy and the laptop. Above: Snow in summer, Cerastium tomentosum framed by blue fescue, Festuca glauca in the knot garden.

It rattled the airlock stairwell entry to the garage, sneaking inside from the gap under the heavy double bay windowed garage door. The gap is stuffed with a styrofoam cylinder that was part of the packaging of electronic equipment, to help keep out the cold. It helps keep the garage a bit warmer, but the wind is cunning at finding openings through which to enter. Above: Baptisia australis, grown from seed collected here.

Looking outside from the warmth of the addition, the movement of the trees, shrubs and grasses was like a choreographed tribal dance with swaying, bowing and wild whirling of loose leaves. Small twigs and a few larger limbs came crashing down, breaking fragile stems that were top heavy with flower buds. But the taller lily stalks had been tied previously to recycled metal bits, a task worth the time and effort, a lesson learned from past heartbreaks. Above: Various lilies, one not tied properly at all, must fix.

When will it stop, I wondered. It was sucking the life force out of me, both by the relentlessness of it and the cold knife edge that made walking around the garden, a daily ritual performed several times every few hours, or minutes, uncomfortable, even wearing a winter coat with the hood up. Above: True English bluebell, Hyacinthoides non-scripta, from Old House Gardens.

But the wind can be a vehicle of saving grace as well as a torture device. When there is threat of killing frost to commercial farmers of edible crops, large fans or even sometimes helicopters will stir the air to help keep the cold moisture from alighting on the fruits and solidifying the juices of the cell structure within, ruining the produce. Above: Deciduous azlaea, Rhododendron ‘Mt. St. Helen’s, fronted by Eupatorium rugosum ‘Chocolate’ foliage.

In this season the so-call Blackberry Winter has come late, (click here to read about the winters of spring in the Southern Appalachian mountains.) The blackberry brambles can be seen in uncultivated areas, even along the highways and byways, covered in white single petal blooms, holding the promise of a heavy crop. But in the Fairegarden, there are less hardy flowers, Iris, peonies, Alliums, among many others that could be burned or turned to mush by too much cold. Above: Dutch iris, Iris hollandica ‘Bronze Beauty’.

Will these out of schedule blossoms survive? Will the orchids already placed on the copper mesh lined shelves tolerate the temperatures? Will the returning for the fourth year dahlia perish, along with the others planted last fall that were snatched up at clearance prices? Above: Dahlia ‘Gallery Cobra’, October 2011.

The damage, if there is any, is yet to be seen, but no matter, the slogan of Onward will carry us forward. Above: Dahlia ‘Gallery Cobra’, April 24, 2012.


*Who Has Seen the Wind?

By Christina Rossetti (1830–1894)

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you:
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.

Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.


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14 Responses to Who Has Seen The Wind…*

  1. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    The wind that visited your garden was romping through Greenbow too. It wore me out. Your garden looks so lush. I love these rich colors. I bet your dahlias survive the cold. I don’t know about the orchids. I brought my Staghorn fern in a couple of nights. I couldn’t stand the thought of leaving it outside to chance. This poem reminds me of a poem I wrote several years ago. I have collected a few ‘wind’ poems too. I will happily add this one to my collection. Wind can seem a friend or a foe. Depending on its mood. Have a great week.

    Hi Lisa, thanks. Friend or foe, or friend AND foe might be more like it. Everything here survived, the temps did not get to 32 where the orchids are, and the leafed out trees gave some protection as well. Surely the threat of cold is done for us, but we will see the wind still, even if it doesn’t come sweeping down the plains in these foothills. You too, have a great week!

  2. Valerie says:

    We had a step back into winter like weather last week with lots of wind and some snow. I am wandering the sandbox determining what survived the unusual mild winter. It may be a little too early to worry as it still early in the season here. I hope your wind moves on Frances and you can enjoy the outdoors again.Valerie

    Hi Valerie, thanks. I hope your sandbox suffers no lasting damage from the up and down weather. The wind was wearing me out. It is warm again now, thank goodness.

  3. Marie says:

    I hope warmth comes back soon and everyone in your garden is safe…

    Hi Marie, thanks for those good wishes. The warmth is back, here in Southeast Tennessee, anyway. The garden seems unharmed overall.

  4. gail says:

    Frances, The wind was certainly intense and I am glad it’s blown the cold weather away. Although, I do miss the cool weather! What a gardening adventure these weather changes and events have been~There’s always something to learn from them, eh?! Love the water colored effect of Hyacinthoides non-scripta and the azalea is a beauty of a color. I must get those wonderful oranges into the garden this summer…Note to self: “get dahlias in fab colors”. Have a sweet day. xoxoxgail

    Thanks Gail. It has been interesting, and continues to offer bloom times way earlier than normal. I look forward to the whens of bloom for the rest of the year. Orange is smashing, believe it or not, the butterfly weed is budded! Now that is an orange that burns your eyeballs. Of course, I love that, as do the butterflies.

  5. Linda says:

    Having been born and raised in Chicago (the Windy City), youd think my tolerance for this Force would be great. To be clear on the Chicago thing…..the name came from the politicians, not nature. I am stimulated and tremble, in the company of Wind. I have to admit, though…..the trembling happens always, when I observe my trees and flowers bowing in half, to the wind. And I am completely helpless. It does still stimulate me, like a good storm!

    Hi Linda, thanks for adding in here. I too am stimulated by the wind and storms, being from Oklahoma where the wind comes sweeping down the plain. I didn’t know that about Chicago’s politians, thanks! You have hit upon it, seeing the trees bend in half is slightly disconcerting, while also exciting. Good thing they were designed to bend and not break, most of the time anyway. We have a stand of very tall pines, they really do whisper and sing out loud in the wind. I love it.

  6. Love the vibrancy of your Dahlia ‘Gallery Cobra’. I take it you don’t bother to do any lifting and storage of your Dahlia tubers? I had a clump that came back repeatedly for quite a few years until suddenly it didn’t. I don’t think anyone would ever describe me as a lazy gardener but I can never bring myself to be bothered with the dig up and store in the right medium approach to a plant even if it’s a favorite.

    Hi Michaele, thanks. No, I don’t dig them up. My neighbors used to dig theirs, and would lose half of them to rot in storage, so what’s the point of that? I think finding the right type, the shorter artist’s series, the right place, a two foot high raised box with well draining soil, and a sheltered location, south facing with evergreens on two sides is key.

  7. Rose says:

    I have not seen the wind, but I have certainly felt it, too. I haven’t done much in the garden for weeks, it seems–if it’s warm enough, then the wind is too strong to stay out for very long. We had quite a rain storm last night, bringing some very welcome moisture, but again it may be awhile before I can do any digging in the dirt. Glad to see your garden is taking the wind in stride–gorgeous dahlias!

    Hi Rose, thanks. It has been an interesting year, for sure. I hope you are able to get out there soon, gardening is good for us in so many ways.

  8. The winds this year have been atrocious. Ours came followed by snow this April. You have so many pretty Spring combos and even though the blooms this year are out of sync, I have enjoyed the pairings not often seen.

    Hi Donna, thanks for visiting. After the monster wind, we too had a very cold front move in. Close to freezing, but no realy damage here, thank goodness. I agree, seeing things blooming at the same time that have never before been together is very fun!

  9. My Kids Mom says:

    I found myself at the Little League fields during those winds. On the other side of the road is a lake, and past it is a busy highway, which we can sometimes hear. I told everyone to try to enjoy the “sound of the surf and the ocean breeze” as we watched the game. All in the attitude, right?

    On a flowery note, one gardenia bloom this morning!

    Hi Jill, thanks for making me smile today! Surf and ocean breeze, it was a pretty dadburn strong breeze here for a few days, I hope you were bundled up for the game. Attitude is everything, and hooray for your gardenia.

  10. Once saw an article showing how leaves fold in the presence of wind to funnel the wind and help fully leaved trees withstand the force of the wind. What an insight! I often try to watch leaves during winds to see the leaves bend. It is difficult because there is so much movement but fun to do.
    Marty from Glen Ellyn IL.

    Hi Marty, thanks for leaving such an informative comment, I do appreciate your sharing! What plants do to withstand all kind of weather, I did know about Rhododendrons curling their leaves when it is very cold to protect themselves, is magical and wonderful.

  11. Lola says:

    I remember the wind when I was there. It can be scary. It got a bit windy here but felt good. Your garden is so lush. I am in envy.

    Hi Lola, thanks. It was the ceaselessness of that wind that got to me, neverending. Things are back to normal now, for now.

  12. cathywieder says:

    Frances, what a wonderful post! I have to say, after the wind blew through your garden, it continued north and we dealt with it here. Today was the first day that we didn’t have 35 mph gusts in a couple of weeks. It was nice to be outside, weeding and planting without that biting breeze!

    Love your photos… some of our iris are budded and I am looking forward to the blooms. I hope you weather this crazy weather!

    Hi Cathy, thanks. That was some wind, longer lasting and stronger than I can ever remember. I was sort of afraid it would never end. Good deal on your iris, such exquisite blooms. You too, hunker down!

  13. When the wind ceased here, the freeze would happen and it did kill off lilacs and now hosta blooming and growing much too early….glad April is over and holding out for more warmth perhaps in May

    Hi Donna, I do hope May brings you some needed warmth. Already we have tied the record for heat for May 1, we shall see what the rest of the month brings us. I am sorry about your lilacs, but the hostas should regrow. Every year is different, isn’t it?

  14. Norma says:

    The winds visited S GA as well. But they are gone and now we’re having 90 degree temps – and dry! But as nature would have it, “only the strong survive.” Everything is blooming ahead of schedule and we’re alive with color!

    Your gardens are soooooooooooo beautiful! . .Like you and some of your followers, I leave my dahiia in ground during the winter. . .of course, I’m waaaaaaaay south!

    Hi Norma, thanks so much. We are setting heat records now, too, and need rain desperately. Plants have to be tough in this neck of the world, you are so right. Southern Living considers us Middle South, right on the cusp of tulips and lilacs, but able to leave some dahlias in the ground. The best of all gardening zones, IMHO!

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