In Earnest

The overnight frost alerts have ended, and real gardening begins. Though I have liberated the emerging ferns and mayapples from the suffocating grip of garlic mustard, filling yard waste bag after bag with it because no one wants garlic mustard in their compost, I am going to have to leave the rest of it to go to dreaded seed. It is time to move on to the fenced garden, and ready it for the tomato plants currently waving from the upstairs window.

asparagusThe fenced garden has already been producing asparagus. This is another of many fine things I enjoy as the fruit of someone else’s labor: I moved into the house one summer, and the next spring all this asparagus appeared with no effort on my part. I had never seen asparagus in its neonatal condition, and it made me laugh. It looks for all the world like someone snuck out into the garden when nobody was looking, and stood a lot of asparagus spears up in the dirt as a joke.

dogwoodAnd then there’s the dogwood tree: another example of something wonderful that just showed up that first spring. Wanting to add my contribution to all this largesse, it pleases me no end to think of the future householders looking out the window to what was once my yard on a fine spring day – and may it be many years from now – to be greeted by the daffodils I planted and the redbud trees I have placed as understory in the woods, and see that someone loved this place, and worked to make it more beautiful.



Dogwood in May

I have done nothing to deserve this tree.
When it was planted I was far away,
and those who lived here never thought of me
as each year’s petals whitened into May,
and summer came to silently retrieve
the green it left behind when it moved on.
The planters grew into their time to leave
and gathered their existence, and were gone.
I stand here now with barrow, shovel, rake,
in contemplation of the liberty
I know that I habitually take,
receiving what was never given me,
but with a gardener’s hope, I sow the seed
to make my present what the future needs.



Pandemic Gardening

Landscapers and garden stores are back in business, essential or not, but I find I’m resistant to going into them. Who knows how many people fingered that pot of geraniums before I got to it? Wouldn’t a geranium die if you took it home and sprayed it all over with bleach? I decided to confine myself to sowing some chill-loving seeds, something I always mean to do and leave too long. Of course, this means I have some seeds lying about that should have been planted last year. Or the year before. We’ll see if they germinate: milkweed; campanula; violets.

tulips z

cat tulip tango

One successful experiment has been my “tulip tomato tango.” I learned about this from, where else, a company that sells bulbs. In fall, when you pull the tomato plants up, you put tulip bulbs in those raised beds. Since they’re inside a fence, the deer and rabbits can’t get to them. Plant early to midseason varieties, and in spring you have gorgeous flowers that are finished blooming by the time you want to put in the tomato plants. Not only lovely, but efficient.

I like to say this is me making progress in the garden, but the garden did it mostly on its own. Yes, I planted the bulbs, but then I went inside and did nothing all winter. No weeding, No feeding. That’s my favorite, wonderful thing about bulbs: they show how the natural world makes its own progress, even when the possibility for progress elsewhere is slight.