The first of May


The first of May fell on Friday of the week past, so I sprayed the deer repellent for the first time this season on Sunday. The hostas (below) and hydrangeas leafed early this spring with the abnormally warm weather we’ve experienced, and I knew I was taking a chance that the neighborhood deer would rediscover these and other treasures. Apparently deer are creatures of habit, even more so than I am, and since the repellent was regularly sprayed last year they had fallen out of the habit of nibbling on the plants in my garden though they pass through daily.

I was compelled to wait until the first of the month to spray because that is the schedule that my wife has trained me to follow. I am bound by routine such that household bills due any time but the first of the month are always paid late, and fortunately the phone and water companies allow some margin prior to cutting off service and only require a small late fee. By greater good fortune the deer discovered only a few hostas well into the forest that I had nearly forgotten about, but coincidently noticed the day before I intended to spray. Now, all are protected, including the hostas in the woods, safe for another month.

So long as I avoid gazing upon the southern magnolias that were splintered in the winter storms, or in the direction where the large cypress was removed a few weeks ago, I have never been so pleased with the garden (above). Though weeds are abundant most are small and don’t detract from the view of plants blooming whichever way I turn. I will get around to removing the weeds as soon as they make a greater nuisance of themselves.

I have planted gold variegated aucubas, spring flowering camellias (above), more helleborus, and several of the huge gold leafed Sum and Substance hostas in the barren, dry shade area that has not been satisfactory in my twenty-two years working this garden, and at this moment I believe that I’ve made some progress. The old Forest Pansy redbud that overhangs the area has steadily declined as the forest has encroached on its sunlight, and it’s barely hanging on. I could be convinced in a moment to replace it with one of the late blooming Rutgers hybrid dogwoods (Stellar Pink, below), particularly Venus with huge white flowers in early to mid May that would pull the eye towards this dank, darkest part of the garden.

The roots of dahlias (Bishop of York, below), elephant ears, bananas, and other assorted tropicals that were overwintered in bags of dried leaves in the garage have been planted and the pots of tropicals and huge agaves that occupied every partially sunny room in the house have been hauled outdoors. I have added a handful of hardy palms of a modest size, not from four inch pots that would need extra attention to pass through the next winter, so I expect that the back garden will be more of a jungle than in prior years. I don’t expect that any path will be passable or that any of the stone patios will not have the huge leaves of some sort of tropical or another hanging over and annoying my wife. My hope is that at some point she will throw her pruners away that have butchered so many innocent plants, and proclaim that life is too short to fool with such nonsense.

I am perfectly content to push through the enormous blue hosta leaves that block the paths, and I have explained to my wife more times than I can count that it is more pleasing to the eye that the lines of paths and patios should be broken by overhanging leaves. I don’t believe that she disagrees, but her quarrel is over the extent to which the elephant ears flop over the patio, and she figures that a path is intended to be followed without fearing that a snake or other venomous critter lurks under every leaf. I suspect that she is at the least partially correct.

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