Monday, May 17, 2010

Things Change

Things change year from year. Once again, as always, I think there’s a message here for the nature of us.
Among the many differences from one garden spring to another: Last year the Labrador violets spread everywhere and bloomed vigorously. Their dark, purplish tiny flowers were a light motif of the early season. This year, many fewer of these violets, and – most puzzlingly – no flowers. They don’t show up in any of the pictures I have taken this year The attractive, purplish foliage is there, though reduced, but no flowers. I keep waiting for them to bloom, but their time is well past.
The ajuga reptans died back, in the back garden as well as front. They were under the flood waters in March in the back. Is that a cause? Other early perennials in the same back, behind-the-patio section have suffered as well. The delicate aceana has died back and is barely holding on. The pincushion flower that bloomed there successfully for several years has disappeared; just gone.
On the other hand, the vinca (both front and back) and the sweet woodruff (back and side of house) – early blooming groundcovers as well – came back very strong and gaining ground.
The expansion of the blue-flowering forget-me-nots, the biggest star of the early spring, was enough to seal the border of the steppingstones in the back all by itself. Their name, I’m told, comes from their habit of spreading everywhere. Very ironic (and humbling) for me to re-learn this name the other day. I had forgotten it. I knew it well last year. It is a plant whose name says “forget me not,” and I forgot it. Maybe all the plants should be named “flower,” and then I’d be okay.
But a disastrous year for columbines. The dark pink columbines in the flower island in the back, which I nursed for years, have died back to almost to nothing. Only the strongest survived. Too much competition back there? Too dark a spot, or just a bad winter. The columbines have lost ground in the front too, and are slow to get going.
But a new performer, the mullein – finally up! winner of the “best surprise of the spring” category – has sent up flower spikes for the first time this year and is beginning to bloom in the clock circle in the back garden. (Need a photo). The delicate blooms have a light pink tone in otherwise white flowers on the spikes rising from those thick, leathery tongue-like leaves which lay pressed flat against the ground last year. And which I had despaired of ever producing anything worth looking at.
I even dug one up and replanted it out front. That one, though smaller, is also beginning to bloom.