Tuesday, April 18, 2017
April in the Garden
Suddenly we are truly into spring. The grass is thick and green and the mowing has already started. Dandelions abound -- it used to be they were mostly in our yard and never in our neighbor's but strangely the trend is reversing.
Beauty is everywhere. Six weeks ago one blossom would have been welcomed with joy and the attention of a rare treasure. Today I pass a thousand trees covered in 10,000 of those precious blossoms and the beauty washes over me like a waterfall impossible to contain.
The kids are dirtier and bandaids running scarce. It was 66F last week and I caught them playing with the garden hose, happily soaking wet, while I walked up the street in a sweater over my long-sleeve shirt.
The days begin cool -- socks are a must, and long pants and maybe a sweater. But the layers shed as the sun climbs and evening may call for a fan by the bed.
I must start giving attention to all the flower beds. Winter provided the perfect time for voles to perform their clandestine acts of treachery. My beds are riddled with tunnels. There are bare patches where there should be longstanding perennials springing to life. I feel the burden of these unwanted pests and wonder if I'm fighting a losing battle.
If I really wanted to get rid of the voles I'd have to give up the flower beds. But I must have flowers. I must have beauty. It's the beauty that pushes me to do the gardening work that does not agree with my constitution or fit very well with my schedule.
The happiest thing in the garden right now is my lilac. Michael invested (that's the right word) in it last year as a gift for me. It's all in perfect bloom right now. It's two weeks early. I know this because lilacs always bloom for Laura's birthday the last week of April. It seems fitting to connect lilacs with the birth of my little girl since it is the lilacs of my girlhood that whisper in my memories.
Today when I pulled into the garage we noticed a pair of purple finches on the window ledge above. They were so sweet and love-buggish. Every time I see a robin in the tree out front I almost pray it will build a nest there. I'm desperate for a bird's nest. What I should be hoping for is an owl or a red-tailed hawk to take up residence and naturally take care of my vole problem.
The vegetable garden is still a tangle of dead vines and stalks from last year. I see all the gardens around the house and want them tidied in a day but in reality it will take at least a month. Pacing is the name of the game. I think I'll add more flowers to the vegetable garden this year. I have good luck with herbs and pole beans but little else. Why keep trying so hard when I could plant more flowers?
I'm waiting to see if the "Cherry Brandy" rudbeckia (red black-eyed susans) I started from seed so painstakingly last year will grow and flower. I've been pining for this variety for four years since I first saw it at Abbotsford (the home of Sir Walter Scott). If I can just one plant to successfully grow then I can go from there.
Tonight we ate our first dinner of the year out on the patio. It feels so good to be outside again for a meal. I stared at the lilac bush while we ate and talked. And I thought maybe I should get out the hummingbird feeder tomorrow and fill it up. You never know when those tiny things might show up again. I sat far too long but it meant a long conversation with two of the kids that wouldn't have happened if we were inside. And now as the dark descends I still hear the birds chirping and singing. The smell of spring is wafting in the windows and it feels like winter is far, far away.