A Blooming Escape from the Winter Blues

It's been a strange morning. I'm not sure if it's the lack of good sleep or a severe sugar crash after yesterday's festivities, but boy—I need some motivation. Do you ever have those days when you have so much to do that you just can't start? That's me today. An overwhelming amount of projects coupled with a hint of melancholy—I feel a little like I have postpartum depression this morning. Is that possible, six years—eek, almost seven years!--after the last munchkin arrived?

Hmm. Perplexing.

So, in honor of Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, hosted by the lovely

May Dreams Gardens

, I decided to combat my lethargy as I did in my long ago post-baby days.

I headed to

Hatcher Garden and Woodland Preserve

.

When our girlie arrived almost 11 years ago, Hatcher Garden was my escape. Since our darling daughter tended to nap only when lulled to sleep in a car, I'd bundle her up, drive to the garden, and carefully transfer the car seat onto the stroller. We'd stroll a bit until we came to this area:

Then, while she napped, I'd read and enjoy the change of scenery.

Hatcher Garden truly saved my sanity on many days.

Founded by Harold and Josephine Hatcher, the garden is a three-acre gem tucked into the westside of Spartanburg, SC. The Hatchers moved to South Carolina in 1969, purchased a small home, and then expanded their property by buying three acres behind their lot--for \$2,000. The land, a former cotton field, required extensive work to turn it into a usable garden space. The Hatchers amended the soil, built paths and ponds, and planted more than 10,000 trees, shrubs, and flowers.

(They certainly didn't laze away their retirement!)

In the 1970s, community volunteers joined forces with the Hatchers to expand their vision for the garden. They designed trails, a series of ponds, and added more trees. A gazebo became a focal point upon entering the garden, new flower beds were added, and a wildflower garden became Josephine's pet project.

In 1987, the Hatchers donated the property to the Spartanburg County Foundation. The Hatcher Garden and Woodland Preserve became the official name of the garden, honoring the couple whose vision provided a retreat for school children, workers on lunch breaks—and new moms with their babies.

When Josephine died in 1999, Harold restored the wildflower garden in her memory.

When Harold died in 2003 at the age of 96, he gave his life's savings to endow the future of the garden.

While there are many private gardens that become community sanctuaries, the beauty of the Hatchers' garden lies its humble beginnings. The Hatchers weren't wealthy landowners—they simply loved to garden. And they worked diligently to share their love with the community.

The last time I went to the garden was in October. Once or twice a year, my amazingly talented friend, Jessie, takes photos of the kiddos. (You can see her work

here

.)Let me tell you: our kids give Jessie a work out. Still, she manages photos that make our children look sweet and civilized...

...but I actually love these honest photos even more, because they capture our kids' crazy personalities so well! 

Anyway...

When I strolled through the garden today, thinking that Hatcher Garden would be a perfect location to find blooms, I was amazed at the changes:

The Garden of Hope and Healing... 

  ...plus dozens of newly paved paths, water features, and memorials.

When Peter and I first visited Hatcher Garden years ago, we took our oldest son (who is now 21) to scout for turtles. He was in a serious turtle obsession at the time. Once, when we were poking around in the ponds and not having any luck, we met an elderly gentleman who guided us to a different pond to help ensure our turtle hunting success.

Mr. Hatcher.

The garden has changed. It's more formal, more structured. Master Gardeners flock there to volunteer. School groups are guided through the garden by horticulturalists. And now, signs like this are a feature at the ponds:

I wonder if Mr. Hatcher would approve?

Still, the camellias were lovely.

After my visit, I felt better. Maybe it was the change of scenery, maybe it was a dose of vitamin D. Maybe it was the realization that spring is only 33 days away.

Also, I realized that while I bemoan winter, I'm pretty lucky here in Upstate SC. After a quick walk through our yard, I found plenty of blooms to share for Bloom Day.

Crocus...

Hyacinth...

Ice Follies Daffodils galore...

Muscari...

Hellebores in every shady corner...and we have a lot of shady corners!

Tulips, popping their heads out of the soil...

Forsythia buds...

Daphne. OK, technically, it's not mine. I'm claiming this daphne, even though it's not in our yard. The fragrance reaches our front door from the neighbors' yard...delicious.

Daylilies, popping up a little early....

Iris, "Harmony," I believe...

Blueberry buds...

And look! Fraise des Bois are producing flowers already! Bliss!

Of course, my days are mostly spent in the greenhouse, prepping my babies for the selling season ahead. Sweet Peas, ready to pot up... 

160 varieties of heirloom tomatoes...future bruschetta factories!

Basil...is it summer yet? Why yes, when I run my hands over these babies, it smells like June.

Nasturtiums in every color...

And heirloom hollyhocks, also ready for bigger homes.

And finally, the kitchen garden is still hanging in there, even after some 20 degree nights.

Pac Choi...(and weeds.) 

Rainbow Chard...

Broccoli...grow, baby, grow!

Huh. I didn't need to leave our yard to participate in bloom day after all.

But I'm glad I did.

My funk faded, and I've gotten a few things accomplished.

Finally, I loved this stone that I found at the entrance to the Garden of Hope and Healing. The words, in memory of a loved one, somehow spoke to me today.

Happy Bloom Day, everyone!

XO ~

Julie

P.S. If you'd like to know more about Harold Hatcher, this is a lovely book:

The Seasons of Harold Hatcher

by Mike Hembree.

Comment on this post

tagged under: crocus, daffodil, Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, Garden of Hope and Healing, Harold Hatcher, Hatcher Garden and Woodland Preserve, hellebores, lilies, Spartanburg, winter blooms, Growing gardens