Here in central New York state, Memorial Day is when I can seriously get to work in the garden. In theory, it is a time that will be free from frost. But, I can never really be sure!! Hopeful, always.
I also have to come to terms, every spring, that I cannot have one of those House Beautiful gardens. My soil is poor. The wildlife seems to depend on my flowers and plants for general sustenance. Over the years I spend the early spring just watching my garden while reviewing notes from the previous year. What survived? What did the animals ignore? What seemed to be able to suck enough nutrients from the soil? Which plants tolerated whatever rainfall Nature provided? I go from there.
I have a beautiful swath of ferns. Graceful, lacy leaves are happily settled in front of a slightly unstable stone wall we built from the rocks we excavated from the foundation holes for our house. Many people who visit wonder why I have let them take hold in my garden. Because they grow….nothing eats them. They don’t get disease. The thrive on whatever Nature provides them.
The next patch is Comfrey. Large, floppy, invasive. I do have to keep it is check. The small purple flowers are tall and graceful, so the plant remains. Then comes Cranesbill, True Geranium. Low and delicate. Soft and romantic. They spread freely, but are easy to contain.
Intermittently there are patches of Tansy, Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla mollis), Yarrow, Day Lily, Four O’Clocks, Autumn Sedum, Coreopsis, Hosta, and….even Golden Rod. There’s a sad peony that offers one or two glorious blossoms, but no more. In the corner is a huge Wegelia that blooms in a riot of red that seems too risque for the rest of the garden. There’s a bit of Lavender and some soft Lamb’s Ears. In a smaller garden there is a patch of Bachelor Buttons, Solomon’s Seal, and Ajuga. Under a lilac tree there is a small patch of Hepatica that I never planted…I don’t know how it got there. That’s what grows in my garden.
I have learned through a stubbornly slow process that I can plant a few annuals, but not many. A few Geraniums and Petunias.
Yesterday was a picture book perfect day in May. Sunny, almost warm, cool enough to work pleasantly in the garden. A slight breeze tickled my skin. As I weeded, dug, divided, replanted, planted I began to think about people. People in my life are not unlike plants in my garden. Some people I am given, like my family. Some just show up and make themselves at home. Some people I choose. And some people come and go. They provide me with comfort, beauty, serenity. Also the occasional bout of frustration and confusion. I am there for both the people and the plants: when they need some weeding done, or some extra care during a drought or other extreme circumstances, or to marvel at their blossoming. But, sometimes I support and nurture both in waves rather than on a regular basis. Perhaps not the best way to be a gardener or friend….. Somehow, for some reason, they both mostly stick around. They do both bring gifts into my life that I am grateful for.
There are some flowers that just appeared out of no where in particular. Others have been around from the very beginning, hanging in there with me and always giving and never giving up. Some flowers I have to divide….I have to portion them out, move them. It is hard to admit, but I need them in doses here and there and not as an over zealous clump pushing others out of the way. Some I have to just remove altogether. Then there are the stalwart perennials…tenacious and dependable. Some are like my Solomon’s Seal…strong and vibrant one year, thinned and struggling other years. Others, like my Bachelor Buttons all but disappear one year, only to return the following year in vigorous glory. And, there are the tentative annuals, unsure and fleeting. It’s the same with my friends.
I sit and dig, and weed and plant. I think of friends and flowers. I think of flowers that offer up so much beauty and bring life to the senses. I dig some more and plant a new flower, wondering if it will grow. I can offer some encouragement and care, but I cannot control the weather or the animals. I think of friends. One far away that I don’t get to see often, but the love between us grows and grows. Those here, who I share laughter and hugs with. A few from long ago that I don’t tend to enough. Family that I always try to meet the needs of.
Here’s to spring. And, to the flowers, friends and family that brighten and bring joy to my life. Thanks for sticking with me.