I spent most of yesterday cleaning away leaf litter and the remnants of last year’s garden. What started out as a chilly morning quickly moved to no-coat status courtesy of a bright, warming sun. I sawed — yes, sawed — down the dried plumes of Miscanthus and removed spent Sedum, Echinacea, and Rudbeckia stems that provided texture and height all winter.… Uncovering hidden growth
It’s that time of year when we start to find out what’s coming back in the garden. Tufts of new growth pop out from the crowns of perennials as they break their dormancy. The usual suspects were up as I walked the garden this morning. Narcissus, Geum, Iris, and Sedum. They’re the ones I’d expect this early — the old stalwarts of spring with tough foliage that can stand dips below freezing.… The old stalwarts of spring
We woke to a snow globe of a day, wet flakes stirred into a frenzy by the trailing winds of the nefariously-named bomb cyclone. It made my decision to retire my winter coat for the season a bit short-sighted. On days like these, where the tease of spring is retracted by Jack Frost’s last gasps, it’s wonderful to come home and see the hope of a new season. The first vine of the Clematis starts I have growing on my kitchen sink has burst forth with a green only found in plants just born. This one is a C. jackmanii, so I think I’ll call it Jack Jack for now. Once its purple blooms grace the garden fence later this summer, I’ll give it a more regal name.
The march of the daffodils has begun. The length and warmth of days has slowly increased, enough to trigger the energy within the dormant bulbs to activate. I’ve lived long enough to not be surprised by the bright green tips emerging through winter’s brown, but each year I feel a joy as if I’ve never seen them before. An old friend, reincarnated, perhaps.
With less than two official weeks of winter left on the calendar, the daffodils’ arrival is the first sign of renewal. I haven’t yet added hellebore or witch hazel — the usual harbingers of winter’s end — in my new garden, so, for now, the trusty old daffodils will serve as our first inkling of spring.
As we enter November, fall color is deep and plentiful after a week of cool, wet weather. Whether the sky is overcast grey or brilliant blue, the reds, oranges, and yellows pop. The weight of the rain brought many leaves to the ground, creating a carpet around and over our gardens. Perennials may be on their way into dormancy, but they’re refusing to go without one last show of gold.
As I walked through the garden, I made a mental list of what needed to be removed and what would remain as winter texture. This will be a working weekend, so I wanted to capture fall before it gets raked away.… Fall colors in the garden
It’s interesting how those of us in four-season climates talk about the plants in our gardens — in terms of how long they’ll last. Annuals come and go in one growing season. Perennials come back every year, but mostly lie dormant below the ground in winter. Trees and shrubs — we think of them as the bones, the stalwart foundation, that last for years, perhaps a lifetime. We cherish them for their presence over time, rather than their value in the moment.
We do the same for people, don’t we?… Presence over time
Frost took out the tender annuals this week, so it was time to do some cleanup. I walked through the garden, throwing the wilted carcasses of coleus, impatiens, and begonias into the wheelbarrow with the the voice of Monty Python’s cart master in my head.
Bring out your dead.
Bring out your dead.
I may have imagined one tougher than average coleus protest.
I’m not dead. I don’t want to go on the cart. I feel fine.
You’ll be soon dead in a moment.
Perhaps these thoughts are best left in my head, but I couldn’t resist sharing a little garden humor as the season comes to an end.