It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade. -Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
It’s gloomy. Winter is not my friend. I am a fair weather person. Looking out at the gardens from my frost covered windows this morning only to see frost on plants, containers and the beloved garden statuary makes me inconsolable. Well, that’s a little much, it just makes me long for all things warm, so I guess I am a bit inconsolable.
It is late March winter seems to prevails. Winter is humbling and last nights arctic blast not only made history throughout the Northeast, but for a gardener in the north it was the end.
My personal plots are what I like to call my front and back gardens. All created from trial and lots of error in a soil that is as rich in mystery and a little history as it is in nutrients.
About 21 years ago I started this ritual with my grandmother when I purchased my home. It was Easter Sunday and she was up for a ride; “down da shore,” (she had a very thick Italian accent) so we packed the car, packed some perennials and set our sites for Wildwood NJ. Never studying horticulture I learned to garden from my mom, from my grandmother, from reading, traveling and just going with what I liked – whether it was going to work was a completely different story. At 40 something (then), it was my first real time as a gardener since childhood. I was determined to create the prettiest gardens on the block and with that, it was my hope that neighbors would enjoy the view and want to create one of their own. They did! Mind you, I have no desire to start a landscaping company – I leave that to the real professionals.
As I write this surrounded by my sleeping dog Oliver at my feet, I realize he was a rescue that came to me with as much mystery as my gardens and plantings I have the distinct pleasure to look outside my window and think, “I am spoiled and I like it.”
With a whimper from Oliver, I know it is time to let him explore the gardens and chase after the squirrels congregating by the bird feeders. He goes running cheerfully out the door dressed in his finest wool Martha Stewart sweater. He is spoiled. He sprints passed the winter pansies which are half smiling today from their containers but I can tell they are cold. And for Oliver that was once all cozy at my feet he shows no regrets as he runs in the frosty flakes like the wild animal he once was. As for the cat in my yard that has decided to call my shed home, she puts a whole new spin on the word lazy and wants no parts of Oliver's joyful nonsense. I can’t say I disagree with her today. We both choose lounging, I on the newly washed blanket that is placed on top of a window bench. She on a heated blanket that I have put for her in my shed. Maybe one day I will learn where she hails from but for now, she seems at home and enjoys a life that I envy. I read and write on.
The cycle of the seasons are so astonishing, no matter what age we are, each one uncovers a new meaning, a new look – a makeover if you will but spring will always be my favorite. When tulips and bulbs that you forgot you planted start popping up through the soil. Plants are budding, and the grass is shedding its look of burnt straw. Add to the mix the scent of spring in the air (soon hopefully) – ahhh, it doesn’t get any better. In only a few weeks the cycle of the seasons will present another show stopper.
When mother nature throws up her starting flag to the sun that’s our que that she’ll be kicking off another season, one that is a little more forgiving and gentler, one where longer days and flowers yet to bloom are not far out of sight.