Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Garden of the Seasons: Parting With the Plants


Now that the warm spring weather has come, drawing mature growth from the plants I associate with the end of May, I’m really worried that time will go by too fast and we’ll miss too much. For the first time since our move to Quincy and the beginning our perennial garden there, Anne and I have gone away on vacation during the heart of the growing season in the northeastern part of the United States. Other years we’ve taken vacation trips that remove us from home for a week or two in late winter or early spring. We’ve gone to Lebanon, where Sonya lives, in February, March, early April two years ago, and on our first trip in October, when it felt like summer there but not oppressively (not far from July in Massachusetts).
            So this time is different. We left last Friday on the day the first of the clematis blooms opened (top photo), just enough to reveal its pointed-star shape. We have two plants of this viney climber that gives the front of the house a small town rural look in late May.
            The tightly rolled iris blossoms (photo at left) in the back garden were just about to unfurl themselves as well. (They've bloomed by now: oh dear, I'm missing it.) One was just beginning the blooming process when I caught it on camera Friday afternoon. People aren’t blue on this planet, but I’ll confess to finding a resemblance in the bud’s mis-en-scene profile to Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart.   
            The poppies, crammed into a portion of the front garden are beginning to take over all available space (second photo down). They must like growing thickly; the other option I’ve known from this variety, Icelandic poppies, is not to grow at all, so I’m glad it’s chosen to proliferate in its erratic long-necked style. We see lots of poppies, same color, about the tenth of the size growing close to the ground in Lebanon’s hills.
            The general impression of fullness is what I like perhaps most of all from the late spring perennial garden. The greenery is large enough to show its style, and all the shapes and sizes and multi-varied approaches to growing in green plant photosynthesis style begin to crowd abundantly together. It’s a texture; always changing, always different. Always worth looking at as one of earth’s various and seemingly limitless ways of covering itself. And we all go around humming Louis Armstrong’s immortal line “what a beautiful world it is.”
            What happens next, even last year, spring of 2015, when I was going absolutely nowhere (we had been gifted with some much needed late winter days in Florida), I realize I was still worried about time passing too fast to properly appreciate everything that goes on in this special season.
            I’m posting here (below) the poem that I wrote then. As for the garden I left behind in Massachusetts for two weeks of the best of the growing season, it will just have to take care of itself.  

        Hungry Summer 

I feel about the birds on the cherry tree
tearing off its blinding white blossoms
As I do about the easy spring days
of early May when earth simmers up
the year's first soothing seventies
Now that spring has finally put a bare foot down
I fear the beast of summer, the swish of its heavy legs
And those large happy jaws chewing through
days of children by the shore
their voices the eerie cries of disappearing angels