Sunday, March 1, 2009
The Late Winter Garden
The late winter garden is the most gorgeous of all gardens. It's the garden that you clip, prune, dig out and imagine, once again, the possibilities. It's a garden made of resolutions. I will be more diligent against the weeds. Or better yet, I will accept the pokeweed as a friend and let him grow, too. It's a garden filled with opportunity. If I dig out all the pachysandra there, then I could grow my tomatoes here, and possibly squeeze in some endive there? What about carrots? Should I try those again? (The last time I grew them, they all grew in a nasty lump and my husband said they looked like an old man's junk.) It's a garden filled with discovery. Now look those buddleias are making baby buddleias everywhere and here's a sedum that I planted two years ago, what was I thinking? And finally, it's a garden filled with anticipation.
Yesterday, I pulled on my running tights and over those, I pulled up a pair of insulated pants. I layered up my shirts and jackets. I tucked my Ipod into my pocket and budded up my ears. I'm so expert now that I have all my tools in a canvas bag, hanging by the door in the mudroom. I swung the bag over my shoulder and out the door I went at 8 a.m. And then, like a woman on a mission, I worked my way around the backyard, counterclockwise. Starting first, pruning the Japanese maple, trimming the liriope, racking away the detritus and sorting it into the mulch pile or into the trash bag.
And all the while, Bruce and Dylan and Mary J. Blige and Johnny Cash and Lauren Hill and Dolly Pardon and Robbie Robertson sang their country ballads, hip hop umbrage and folk poetry into my soul. Anyone watching me would have been amused by the plump little lady wielding clippers, bursting into song and stopping for an occasional shoulder shimmy to accompany the beat of the music.
And I was so happy.
I spent about six hours out there and only quit when my fingers wouldn't squeeze the clippers anymore, my hamstrings seized up and I grew so thirsty that I couldn't swallow. But after a bubble bath and some deep and long stretches, I settled down at the computer and continued my perfect garden reverie. I ordered my plants. The yarrow, the columbine, a majestic white goatsbeard, two whispy astilbes (ostrich plume and white gloria), a crazy daisy and a love plant (for J!), some campanula, digitalis, echinacea, monarda and some lovely "lady becky" rudbeckia, also a lobelia and a Mrs. Moon pulmonaria.
As the afternoon sky turned gray in the window and my family started making inquiries about dinner, I sharpened my pencil and drew out my now familiar garden plan. Always starting with the steps down from the lower deck--the point of entry. This time with a practiced eye and my expert estimations of how big the plant will grow, I charted out the places where I'll plant. My mind's eye carefully recalling the empty spots from last year's garden and from memory, I carefully calculated the amount of sun to fall in one dappled spot or that bores down on another.
The sun faded in the sky and I poured a glass of wine. A perfect day. The Putterer