Sara Schurr Now is all there is
Sara Schurr Gardener Of all the various hats that I've worn in this life, the one I identify myself with most is The Gardener. It is a role I very happily dedicated a good deal of time and energy to each year while we lived in Monroe. Over time, gardening has developed into a kind of spiritual practice. I can go out into the garden and work and find peace and grounding and contentment. My mind becomes quiet and I am present in the moment, pulling the weed, watering the plant, harvesting the cucumber. Walter jokingly says that when I'm gardening, I'm out saying my prayers. And in many ways he is right for there is a oneness that I experience in the garden that deepens the longer I work there.

The Garden at Winterhaven is not so much my garden as the garden that I tended for 27 years.

 The garden at winterhaven 2002

When we moved to Monroe and I began to dig the beds and plant the garden my channeling ability allowed me to do it under the direction of the Devas and Nature Spirits associated with that piece of land. I was their hands, their human emissary, in an effort to bring balance and peace to the land. This kind of relationship makes it a little difficult to have proud ownership of the design and decisions since mostly I wasn't the one doing the design or making the decisions. I was simply following their instructions. Admittedly I have always had the right of refusal. I did't get up in the middle of the night to plant things. I did't plant things that we did't like to eat or that I thought were ugly or a real pain in the neck to tend.  Once balance was pretty much achieved after about 10 years, I was given free rein to plant what I pleased--with the exception of trees which I still asked about before planting.

The garden became a magnet for birds and critters both the tame and wild variety. It is their haven as it is mine.

I come from a long line of happy, hard-working gardeners. My Schurr grandparents were both gardeners. They had a produce and flower business in Kansas complete with a greenhouse and a florist shop. After they moved to California they had a peach and orange orchard and my grandfather was the gardener for the Whittier Heights schools. My father and most of his siblings were also avid gardeners. Some of my most vivid memories of my dad are of him out working in the yard pruning roses and spreading steer manure on their beds.

I didn't get to learn much about gardening from him since he died when I was 6 but he did leave behind a lovely yard full of roses, camellias and fuchsias that I grew to love growing up.

I puttered at balcony gardening in my 20's and only really became interested in it the summer of 1982 when I decided I really wanted to learn all I could about organic gardening. When we decided to move to Sirius Community in Massachusetts I thought that was what I was going there to learn. While I got some practice in tending the flowers there it turned out that's not why I was there. So when we moved to Oregon in the winter of 1984 and I couldn't find a job I opted to enroll in the Ornamental Horticulture program at Clackamas Community College in Oregon City, OR. I didn't learn anything about organic gardening there either but that was remedied by a subscription to Organic Gardening magazine and the reading of everything I could get my hands on about the subject. Meanwhile I got a lot practice pruning and tending the gardens at CCC and I learned a great deal about the plants that are best suited to gardens in the Pacific NW.

After a year in hort. school we moved to the Seattle area and rented a house that had garden space and I was off and running. I finally had some dirt to dig in to call my own! I made raised beds in the previously tilled garden area and double-dug two beds in a sunnier area of the yard. And I planted it all full of veggies and flowers. Even with everything planted in late June, we had tons of food from the garden that summer. And I began to learn about the ins and out of organic gardening first hand. I learned about cabbage root maggot that first winter when my purple sprouting broccoli fell over in the wind and I discovered they didn't have any roots! Floating row covers became the rule for the entire brassicas family after that.

In 1985 we moved to Winterhaven and I gardened there for 27 years. It got to be less work than it was at the start thank goodness but I was still probably putting in 250 hours a year pruning, weeding, fertilizing, planting, harvesting and spreading compost until we moved.

I had a greenhouse where I grew early broccoli and then tomatoes and peppers. In the winter it provided a safe haven for my fuchsias, geraniums and African daisies. I started most of my annual flowers and vegetables from seed under lights in the basement so gardening season never really ended completely.

For more details about the garden itself and the things I tended there visit thegardenatwinterhaven.com