In one of his poems Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “The world laughs in flowers.” That being the case, my garden is slowly building up to a chuckle. After weeks of looking for those first blooms (Witch hazels followed by Hellebores or Lenten rose) an early stretch of above normal temperatures is giving me color everywhere. Little irises, crocuses and a handful of snowdrops bloomed. Now grape hyacinths are adding blue ribbons along some of the beds, while Forsythia are following the Witch hazels with a blaze of yellow. Primula or primroses are pushing forth their blooms, some bright blue with a yellow eye, others in bright yellow all over. And everywhere green is making a reappearance.
Shortly after Iris reticulata ‘Katherine Hodgkin’ made her appearance, I spotted puddles of blue on either side of the (not yet running) waterfall. Iris reticulata ‘Alida’ planted in memory of my mom with the same name was in bloom! Their light blue standards (upper part of the flower) with the darker blue falls and yellow and white splotches glowed. Protected from the wind by a row of evergreens they should last for a while. Considering my mom was deathly afraid of anything without legs (worms!) she probably appreciates being there and then be gone. Unlike my dad, the gardener, who is represented in my garden by Marigold ‘Kees’ orange’. This annual, whose seeds I have not yet started, will hang around from May through September but at the first good frost it will turn up its toes. Then I harvest seeds for another round the following year. And so, mom and dad show up year after year.
A ten day stretch of above 50 (60 and even 70) degree days with mostly mild nights allowed me to do a more thorough clean-up of perennials. Old stems and foliage were cut down and put on the compost heap. Willow branches grew ten feet or more during the gardening year and some branches were slapping me in the face every time I walked past. But every time when I cut the worst offending branches back late last year, I would find baby tree frogs clinging to the cut-off branches. Rather than accidentally discarding a tiny frog in the trash I saved this job to spring and risked the occasional slap in the face. Now I can walk my paths again without ducking and weaving!
Meanwhile plans have been hatched to convert the remainder of lawn in the front yard with a raised bed and extensive plantings. The landscape architect drew up a plan I liked, it was approved by the HOA and in about five weeks work will commence. By the time all is said and done, it has taken me six years since moving into our new home to landscape back and sides and now the front into gardens. Granted, a crew built the pond and sculpted the surrounding beds, and this raised stone bed and planting will be done by another crew, but everything else was planted (and sometimes moved and replanted) by me. One strip of grass remains between sidewalk and road in front of our house. Our neighbor will mow it for us, my final concession to a lawn.