Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Garden of the Seasons: Remember me? I'm April

There comes the day, always in April, when all your clothes are suddenly too heavy. They're the same clothes that have been hanging around for most of six months, so it shouldn't come as a surprise, but it always does.

            The jeans, that were never really warm enough when you wanted to go for a walk in the winter (and would be disastrous in snow if you got them wet), well, they're also not right when the temperature shoots up into the seventies. The long-sleeved pullovers, and sweaters, and flannel shirts: all too warm.  
            This happens in April. The temperature, expected to go up well into the sixties one day, goes up into the seventies instead. Maybe it's because the steady wind off the ocean along the coast that has been chilling us nicely with us for weeks takes an unexpected break. Next day when the temperature is supposed to reach the seventies, it shoots up near eighty (according to the house thermometer, which I admit is at a times a great kidder). In any event it feels like eighty. The kids who've been dying to wear their shorts all winter are wearing their shorts today.
            But not you. Your summer clothes are buried in a box somewhere on another floor of the house. You're in no mood to look for them. You're in a mood to sit in the grass somewhere; find some shade. Because it's April, and a lot of the month has been parka weather rather than shorts weather, the trees are not leafed out yet. Most of them are showing their buds, but just this week. So there really isn't a lot of shade yet.
            And, besdies, even more than relaxing the shade, what you really want to do is make all your spring flowers bloom.
            April is a great mointh for patience. Not for showing it, but for telling you that you need it.
            The main thing that happens when the temperature shoots up in the third week of April is the tulip buds you've been inspecting for a week or two begin to open. Some years this doesn't happen until May, so your patience is rewarded early this year. Now you are happy that you devoted a period of a considerably chillier recent afternoon cutting off several hundreds (but who's counting?) of last year's dried, yellow-brown very tall blades of the ornamental grasses smack up against the house's foundation... so that this year you can actually see the line of dark pink tulips that bloom right in front of them.
            This year April said, 'Good on you. Here are your tulips.'
            I may have said some ungenerous thngs about Aprils in previous years, for that matter I probably said such things just a few weeks ago this April, but let's enjoy a winning streak when we have one.
            The narcissus daffodils (second photo down) I planted last year bloomed pretty much the same day. One day, that is, I noticed two or three blossoms showed. The next day, a warm one, a dozen.
            The grape hyacinth blossoms (they look like upside down grape bunches, the blossoms turn more blue than wine-colored in the photographs), and which constitute the only successfully enduring colony in the earth around the hungry roots of the maple tree, have been been shining for a couple of weeks. April has been good to them too -- or to me, through them.
            The bright early yellow blossoms are Alyssum Saxatile (third photo).
            Pachysandra shows its modest little white blossoms, just to let you know they're still in there trying and have a jump on pretty much everything else.
            The April bloomer called Spring Vetch (photo left) also kicks up its heels.
            The low early-blooming phlox (fourth photo down) hugs the sidewalk, enjoying its moment in the sun.
            The blue speedwell (photo left) keeps its color even in the shady afternoons behind the house. The back of the house garden is partial sun, especially in the months before the sun is at its full height. Plants in the back are always behind their sun-filled cousins in the front, known locally as the sunny side of the street. But I see the sun shining again this morning, and I do believe I'll be paying a visit to the tulips and daffodils that are opening back there.