Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Rain Forest Massachusetts

All things that grow are greener than green in the very-wet merry month of May. Even under solidly overcast skies, the foliage shines. A beam of green light emerges from of the raspberry thicket where I have focused the lens of my unabashedly malevolent gaze on the squirrel climbing the pole to the birdfeeder. Move that lens a silly centimeter and what you have see are green vines, low green branches of heavy-leafed trees, tall green shrubs, a spurt of red azalea blossoms, and an overflow of ruggedly burgeoning raspberry canes, all of them green, green, green!
Weeks of rain and chill have put me behind in my planting. As for weeding, some sections of he back garden have already reached the you’ll-never-catch-up stage, and the usual portfolio of all-consuming, back-again-this-year, completely adaptable volunteers have leapt into the breach. When I sneak out between fresh wettings for an hour or so, I go to the places where appearances will be noticeably improved once I yank up or trim away the armies of enthusiastic followers which nudge hopefully against their powerful patrons – the over-dressed peony tree in the clock circle, for instance. Its neighboring astilbes, two fat brothers happily soaking up the green juice of spring. The garden germander, a low herb-like creature growing in asymmetrical weaves like a weed itself. I work to free a colony of Forget-me-nots (tiny baby blue florets; a few pale pink), adept spreaders themselves limited only by the herd of wild violets, marauding primroses, and posses of local homeland weeds tussling the space away from them.
To free them up, I pull handfuls of the nameless, big-leafed groundcover which grows like a bouncy mat – the green eraser – wherever I let it out of the spongy earth. Only when I’ve exposed enough space to see bare dirt can I think about inserting some new color into the borders of the stone path that wanders like a river through the heart of things, from patio to fence. It’s the central wiggle in the garden path.
I’m a tactile designer. When I can feel the cool, wet dirt through the finger tip holes in my glove, I decide where to place the two yellow-green clumps of a low mossy plant (called Scotch Moss by the plant center) to improve the density of the half dozen we planted last year along the stones of the central path. As I begin interring these, making my bet against nearby footfalls, returning weeds, and nosy squirrels, a steadily darkening sky turns down the thermostat on a late afternoon. The day had been dreary but still and rather warmish – fine weather for squatting in the damp and getting your clothes dirty. Now the air drops ten degrees in five minutes (coat goes back on) and begins to drip. Quick with the shovel, the ground too moist for pre-planting watering. Pull the root ball apart, dig a small hole, marry the roots to the soil. The rain picks up. In a tumble I get my second plant in; the rains sends me scurrying.
Indoors, I hear the thunder rumble.
Or… Maybe not a rain forest. Maybe just rain-merry old England. Gardens always look great there, and things are looking pretty good here too.