Every spring is the only spring – a perpetual astonishment. ~Ellis Peters
A week of sun and rain has changed everything. The garden grows greener by the minute, more flowers are blooming each day. The small islands of early flowers and foliage are growing larger and starting to connect throughout the garden. It looks and smells like spring. The wild cherries and amelanchier are blooming throughout the woods with clumps of summer snowflakes blooming beneath. (Click on any photo in these mosaics to see a full size image)
The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day. ~ Robert Frost
Spring has arrived with great hesitation, or perhaps I only greet it this way. Warm days abruptly end in snow or frost, pouring rain soaks the ground and triggers green growth which is then stopped short by another deep freeze. I’ve never witnessed such extreme disruption in the garden. Although many of the early daffodil blooms hang to the ground in surrender, other growing things, especially ones native to this area, are coping with the dramatic and abrupt changes and reveal their beauty to the eye. I must admit to a deep uneasiness – will this scenario continue in the future as we grapple with climate change? How will the creatures who depend on pollen and other garden foods at crucial times cope or even survive? Here’s what the National Wildlife Federation has to say about gardening for climate change and the problems that changing bloom times create between pollinators and the plants they depend on.
Nevertheless, each day brings new growth and beauty. The hellebores continue to spring back after the worst conditions and a few sleepyheads are just beginning to bloom now. Bird song is a constant soundtrack to my journeys through the garden and a pair of robins follow me around as I expose the earth while digging up dandelion roots. The first blooms on the weeping cherry that survived sudden sub-zero temperatures are nuzzled by a native bee desperate for spring pollen. Tiny wind anemones and grape hyacinth bloom amid the warm rock walls. Foliage in shades of green and red rises up from the ground, displacing the last of the fallen oak leaves that blanketed the beds all winter. Now is the time for cleaning up the garden, trimming roses and shrubs, and planting seeds indoors in anticipation of summer. Prolific rains have created vernal pools and streams through the woods and spring peepers have been singing their high chweeps of courtship on warmer evenings.
But days even earlier than these in April have a charm, – even days that seem raw and rainy . . . There is a fascination in walking through these bare early woods, – there is such a pause of preparation, winter’s work is so cleanly and thoroughly done. Everything is taken down and put away . . . All else is bare, but prophetic: buds everywhere, the whole splendor of the coming summer concentrated in those hard little knobs on every bough . . . ~Thomas Wentworth Higginson, “April Days,” 1861
A special thanks to The Quote Garden for a seemingly endless source of literary inspiration.
Oh what a beautiful morning,
Oh what a beautiful day,
I’ve got a wonderful feeling,
Everything’s going my way. ~lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, from “Oklahoma!”
I’ve spent the early hours of the past few mornings in the garden, with the moments between weeding and planting spent enjoying the sparkle of early morning light. The woods are showing a soft green blush of unfurling leaves as the garden begins its April bloom cycle. Yesterday morning a golden shimmer of light reflected on dewy flowers; this morning the almost full moon still hung in the morning sky while the birds sang their dawn chorus. I couldn’t help myself – I broke into song with them. “Oh What a Beautiful Morning!” is a personal favorite of mine and it seemed so descriptive of the moment. “All the sounds of the earth are like music” – who knew Oscar was so poetic?
Here are a few images from the late April garden. Enjoy!