I’m in bad shape, broke down, beaten, and bewildered!
One minute I’m feeling hopelessly behind in my garden, the next that I’m nearly caught up. Then I walk around any corner, and I have a lot of corners, and there’s lots more to do. There’s no fooling myself, I have a lot of chores ahead. After a slow start (I depend on getting a little work done on warm days in February, of which there were none this year) I think that I might be approaching my normal status for this date, which of course means there’s still plenty to occupy my weekends for another month.
The weekend past was beautiful, low humidity and warm enough to work in shorts, so most of the two days was spent outdoors working, but with a little time to appreciate the trees, shrubs,and bulbs blooming all around the garden. In addition to weeding and pruning I’ve been trying to clean up from the February snow, mending broken branches and tying together arborvitaes and cryptomerias that had branches bent askew, and there’s still some clean up from a forty foot Leyland cypress that was irreparably damaged and removed earlier in the week.
Beneath the fallen cypress were parts of a sparsely branched boxwood that has been shaded for too many years and a China Girl holly that had become a tangle of rose and locust seedlings before it was flattened. Sunday’s adventure included trying to untangle this mess and save what could be salvaged of the holly. The holly escaped with minimal damage, certainly better than my bare legs fared in dealing with the rose that reached out to grab me at every opportunity. Not a pretty sight, but I can imagine your lack of sympathy. I know, I should have worn long trousers. You sound like my mother!
Then I found that a gold arborvitae that had bent in every direction under the snow’s weight was taller, much taller, than one planted on the other side of the garden that was planted at the same time. I tried to tie it, just like I demonstrated on its shorter cousin a month earlier, but found that too much of the large evergreen was above my reach. The only way this could be resolved was to balance an eight foot ladder on the uneven ground, climb to the top rung (clinging for dear life to the arborvitae), tie the strapping off to draw the branches together, and then prune the top three feet that failed to cooperate. When I advise that some tasks are better left to professionals, this is exactly the point. In any case, I lived through it, though probably no wiser for the experience.
There’s so much blooming in the garden, or coming into bloom, that it’s tempting to stop for precious moments to enjoy the huge weeping cherry (above), to stand under its pendulous branching as the spent blossoms fall like light pink snow. But the chores I have mapped out for the day are not complete, so I’ll delay for only a few minutes on the way to grab the pruners, or a screwdriver and wrench to repair the chainsaw blade that has jumped off again.
Many of the spring bulbs are still blooming, narcissus, puschkinias, and hyacinths have not begun to fade, and the crocus have come on a little stronger now that the weather has warmed. The spring windflowers (Anemone blanda, above) are blooming, though only a few dozen since I am prone to pulling them, mistaken as weeds. Their delicate foliage is similar to several common weeds, and once I have summoned the energy to get started on tasks in the garden a frenetic pace kicks in, the brain goes blank, and often desirable plants are destroyed.
Chionodoxa (above) are popping up everywhere in greatly increased numbers, safe in an area where I seldom weed, some quite a few feet from where I once planted the small bulbs. The alliums (ornamental onions) aren’t blooming yet, but it won’t be long. An older clump has been undisturbed for years, and though it is heavily shaded by a large Jane magnolia and a gnarled dwarf peach (below), the clump continues to expand. I should dig the clump and replant in a sunnier spot, but then there are many things that I should do that probably won’t happen.
The magnolia and peach are both blooming, a gaudy combination of pink and purple, but more so with a large drift of the bright yellow dwarf narcissus February Gold at their feet. I paid no attention to the concurrent blooming when I planted the trees, it’s far too late to move either, and I don’t mind the odd combination in any case. If this composition is not for you I would suggest that you not drop by to visit.
The backside (facing from the house) of both the peach and magnolia (above) do not bloom since they are shaded by a golden raintree, and a red maple and willow oak from the neighbor’s property that are rapidly growing too large and overhanging treasures in my garden. No matter, the neighbor’s trees are here to stay, and he was not the culprit who planted them too close to the property line (it was two or more owners prior), and who am I to talk about planting things too close anyway?
In any case, at this time of the year I don’t mind that colors don’t coordinate, or if this is too close to that. I’m happy that winter’s a memory, that the garden’s exploding in bloom. In May I can rest, but for now I have a narrow focus, straight ahead, one tree at a time, full speed ahead, and try not to lose too much blood in the process.