Sunday, April 12, 2015

Ground Zero in the Garden of Seasons

            The snow departs, a month later than ever before. The freezing rain, mixed with flurries and some hail, along with the steady 36 degree temperatures of last week finally drift off to torment somewhere else (the ocean maybe). I get to work on the back yard, raking off the winter covering of fallen leaves which have lain like a (hopefully) protective blanket over the earth the embedded roots of the perennial garden. How does it look? 

            Frankly, god-awful. It's the starting point in the great green drama of the growing season. I call it ground zero. (Top two photos.)
            Not much green to see. The English ivy surrounding one of the big trees back there, last year's leaves still on the vines, offers a dull dark-greenish patch. Some vinca in spots; vinca is always green, but it doesn't start growing and blooming until the earth warms up a little. Pachysandra pretty much the same thing.
            Since there is so little new life showing, and I want to give anything even vaguely considering growing all the sun and warmth April can offer, I start to rake off the blanket of old brown leaves. Not much to show from first couple of attempts. I wonder if a time will really come when the amount of green in this 'picture' will equal of exceed the amount of brown I'm seeing there now. Has it ever really worked?
            The days are a gloomy progression last week, a cold wind still at work. Thursday is the worst day of the month: cold rain all day. At this time of year it's harder to bear because of the expectations of better. Friday the rain stops, and I get going, clearing out a few spots where bulbs, crocuses, tulips, a few daffs are stemming up.
            Then the weekend comes and the sun shines (the first weekend, the local meteorologists tell us, without any form of precipitation since early January). A lot of wind on Saturday; but the sky is blue. The birds sings cantatas on the wing. Choirs form on a bare tree limb. Eventually under these happier conditions I find my rhythm, accept how much needs to be done; realize I must clip all the stems that I neglected to remove last fall -- it got cold, I gave up -- remember how to do this work without killing my lower back, and the progress begins to show. Sunday is even warmer. The wind dies, perfect early spring weather. Anne joins in later in the day; now we're flying.
            Still not too much green breaking from the earth, but at least most of the dead leaves and old stems are gone. (Third and fourth photos down.)
             Next week, Anne tells me, we'll really start to see something. It's little like 'waiting for next year' in baseball. In gardening however (unlike baseball) you always do win in the end.

(Last two photos: a green mat of a variety of thyme, thymus albiflora, used as a ground cover.  And a patch of tulips coming up among vinca and some other perennials.)