Greetings from A Heron’s Garden on this, the first glorious spring day of 2014. There’s a brisk breeze, but a kind sun and clear blue skies. I am exuberant. The soil is still cold and water still pools in the bottoms of holes we dig, and the deer have turned azaleas into sticks. But spring has been creeping round corners all this while, on mists and drizzles, waiting for such a day to remind us that calendars don’t lie and the promises of spring will yet unfold.
So it is that I spent the day in a frenzy of cleaning and mulching, fertilizing and transplanting, as though not another day like this would ever come. (Practically speaking, I want to beat the ticks and chiggers.)
What a year for daffodils! After playing hooky the past few warm winters, they exploded. I had big plans for excising non-bloomers this spring, but I couldn’t find any, except for some scattered seedlings that I blessed and left. Still to come is a second wave of late bloomers I planted in February (yes, that late). We may have chafed at this long cold winter, but the daffodils loved it.
Lenten roses, huge bouquets of them bobbing up from green crowns, also carried us through dreary days. They had been our winter pride and joy for years until conditions in our garden changed after Hurricane Isabel in 2003. Little by little we coaxed them back and today I revel in a range of colors from soft purples to creamy whites. The seedlings I painstakingly transplanted last spring aced the winter; handsome juveniles are now promising even more surprises.
So what else is popping? Leonard Messel’s been showing off for more than a week, but it looks like Jane will be taking over (isn’t that just like a woman!) My two favorite magnolias, though Royal Star, still puny, a refugee until I found the right spot, is looking to pull rank.
Spirea ogon takes my breath away each spring. It’s such a dependable carefree plant I want to cover the yard with it. Everything except its bold bad hair is tiny about this plant–chartreuse leaves that never seem to falter and clouds of tiny white blossoms that give punch to a winter weary garden. I don’t know why I can’t find it in nurseries. I’d like to divide the mother plant, it’s big enough now, but I can’t bring myself to ask Bob to put the axe to it.
Sigh… that lesser celandine is still popping up everywhere, where it doesn’t belong, bringing me to my knees, for the plant must be scooped out with a shovel for proper extirpation to be sure the bulblets come with it. I still smile at the cheery blooms and everyone else loves them, but. . . Those buttercup flowers may beguile, but I’m wiser now. Meanwhile, tulip leaves are stabbing hopefully through the soil, quickly nibbled. By whom, I wonder. I sprinkle them with hardwood mulch to deter the varmints. (You can stop your laughing now.)
Buds on dwarf Viburnum carlesii are creating a mini- show before the blooms appear. Their fragrance will drift across the front paths on the slightest breeze. This is probably our finest viburnum; it’s a reliable bloomer and asks for little, maybe an occasional pruning to shape.
Nearby, edgeworthia, or paper bush, a fragrant winter winner, is finally tired after guarding our front door during the coldest months of winter. In summer its foliage gives a tropical feel to the garden so I can forgive the yawning.
I look for epimedium. I know it is a late comer, but if everything isn’t up in our garden by March I start to worry. The dull sprouts are lollygagging, and I want to hurry them into dainty yellow blooms that float above mats of shiny green leaves, but not yet.
Till then I satisfy myself with small, pale lavendery-white blooms of violets. When rabbits camp out in our yard, they disappear; this year they are plentiful. They came from one small clump, a gift from an artist friend years ago. I think of her each spring.
I can’t forget to sing the praises of that dependable springtime triumvirate: bridal wreath spirea, forsythia and quince. It took a long time for them to come in this year, I thought they were lost, but they are blazing now.
Crabapple buds are plump, ready in another week or so, pretty much on time, but the Bradford pear across the way is already losing its blooms the same way they arrived, in waves, from the sunny side to the shady side of the tree.
A spring blue flutters by, seeming fragile against the garden tangle; the massive, grizzled forsythia next to the ruin on the way to town is reaching high and spreading wide; the pinks are blooming under the pine trees by the road; shiny long flower buds of amelanchier gleam in sunshine; and, yes, the stick-azaleas have buds.
Turtles on the log, all’s well with spring.
Epilogue: I wrote this on Tuesday, April 1st. By Friday, April 4th, Spring seemed to fade and summer had barreled in with high temperatures and dry winds. Ticks, too. With rainy days and cool nights predicted, I’ve a suspicion that Spring will not be so easily pushed aside.