Saturday, May 25, 2013

Spring Gardening

Memorial Day Weekend, gray skies, a high of 61 degrees, or so they predict.

It’s time to take one of those desultory wanders through the garden, to see what’s coming up.
But first we make a dash downtown to the Farmer’s Market—full of life and color, as usual. We picked up a flat of impatiens and a few larger New Guinea impatiens for the deck.  I was sorely tempted by both the smoked trout and the whole fresh duck, but we limited ourselves to some Kalamata olives and two bundles of asparagus—risotto tonight!

Our back yard has a shady, woodland feel, and we like it that way. But it means we depend more on the things that drop in—the volunteers—than on the things we buy. Violets would soon overtake the entire plot, if left to their own devices, and this has been a source of ongoing controversy, year after year.
Hilary says: “I like them all.”
I say: “I like them…but enough is enough. They’re choking out the other plants.”

Right now I can admire the yellow and white-purple blossoms that have appeared amid the purple. Tomorrow? We’ll see.
Jack-in-the-pulpit are also spreading themselves effortlessly across the yard as the years go by. One clump has decided to insinuate itself between some monkshood and Siberian bugloss.
Another dilemma that grows in importance by the year is what to do with the rotting ties that define the edges of the garden. No doubt many industrious gardeners would simply replace them, but I see two additional lines we might pursue. We could remove the logs entirely and create a more natural interface between our mossy lawn and the more “formal” garden space within the enclosure. Or we could simply leave them to rot. They’re probably forty years old by now, and it might be argued that they add a venerable touch to the yard.  
What I really ought to do is crawl under the deck and reattach the drainpipe that’s been spilling sand out across the lawn every time it rains for longer than I’d care to admit.

But no. I hear an oriole chirping in the cold, gray, midday air; I see the Virginia creeper making its slow ascent up the branches of the weedy ash. The sand cherry has been almost entirely defeated by the volunteer pagoda dogwood that blew in a decade ago—I really ought to cut it way back and see if it can reassert itself on a more modest scale. It’s Do or Die at this point.
And behold! The lilac we planted in our woods four years ago has produced its first blossoms ever! Lilies of the valley. Kerengeshoma palmata, already eighteen inches high. Bleeding heart, just coming into its own. And  the hostas are just now unfurling their tightly-wrapped leaves.

I'm in a daze, and perhaps there's nothing better to do than head inside and finish reading The Budding Tree, a set of short stories by Aiko Kitahara set in Edo-period Japan  .
The next two weeks may be the best of the summer for native plants--mostly just green, but full of freshness and variety.

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