Solace after a Winter’s sleep

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Climbing roses with homemade topiary, peonies, and grapes, north side

Dear March,

Around the time of your arrival, the daffodils are kicking up their green heels through the frozen ground, surprisingly early. The crocuses pierce their tough stubborn heads through the layer of old trodden mulch, eager to greet the awakening sun. Not too far away my dear love – the treasured tulip.  Yet the frost still suffocates the grass, causing it to remain listlessly affixed to the bitter ground. You continue to tease us with the hope of spring but I fear your departure as the old adage suggests – a lion. Therefore, this year, as with every year, I implore you to leave as a lamb.

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Marigold seedlings, lamb’s ear, white carpet rose

From November until now, I have remained indoors. The sky has cast its gray pallor for months and the wind beats against the house, either bringing more frigid air, or mounds of icy crystals strewn like piles of diamonds. These arctic days have grown wearisome and I cannot muster the patience to withstand more afternoons where the sun lazily leaves the sky to hibernate before we are ready. It is time for the days to grow longer when the children leave their homework to drag their dusty bicycles from the garage and ride down the hill and aren’t seen until dusk forces them back inside for dinner. I am ready for the fresh air to blow through open windows, bringing the scent of newness through the house. I long for the camaraderie of neighbors, chatting in the cul de sac, like bears departing their den. I wait for the day where the day shines brighter and longer bringing the hint of spring.

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Perennial Sweet peas, pansies, ivy, foxgloves, clematis

With the welcome of spring, slowly, the laundry slowly begins to decrease. No longer are there heaps of snow laden ski pants and heavy jackets piled on the laundry room floor and left scattered on the carpet in the front hallway. The crunchy leaves that have blown into the house all winter, get up and leave quickly, without even being asked. Stray mittens left under the sofa and found beneath the beds meet an impasse and are forgotten until the next season. When the bright daylight ends the winter weather havoc, the mess of winter’s madness is over and my job is eased. I am relieved from cleaning piles of snow tacked inside from slushy boots. Suddenly, as if overnight, it is time for spring cleaning to wipe away the memory of the dirty winter remnants left on the wooden floors. They rouse and smile a shining grin in my direction; the house and I are drained from the sloppiness of winter and gladly invite spring in.
Outside, in the garden, it’s a different story. Up to my elbows in the dirt, boots sucked into cavernous holes of squishy dirt, soil impacted under my fingernails – that is where I am the happiest. The plants are still sleeping, but some of the early risers are beginning to show signs of stirring. They burst with small green buds as if to say, I’m still here. Look at me.” From inside the kitchen window, the seedlings call to me, stretching their weak little necks toward the sunlight for more, begging, “When can we come out to play?” The irises stand tall, the stalks of their leaves, opening to let their dewy heads peek out. Worms move in the soil beneath my hands and the bees begin the task ahead. The garden is ready to be unleashed and my angst to awaken it from its winter slumber is tempered by tossing a blanket of mulch.

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Hardy hibiscus, peonies, irises, figs, Amaryllis, boxwood, snowball

In closing, it is clear that it is not in self indulgence that I plead with you to leave as softly. Be gracious, and think of the children, exhausted from hours of study, and allow the sun to shine brighter and air be warmer for a bit more play. Please permit the hardened ground to soften to ease the plants from their slumber and give this gardener some life to tend, and a break from the drudgery of indoor chores. Therefore, this year, kindly leave us as a lamb as you usher in April.

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landscape, Amaryllis, peonies

The Mistress of Threads and Paint

Liriope, Irises

This is the weekend – the much anticipated time change. As a gardener, I treasure the longer days and the changes they bring with them. I raise my plants like my children – after a Spring rain and a bright day I can tell when they have grown a touch taller, set buds overnight, and blossomed from season to season. Each winter while they sleep, it always catches me by surprise when they awaken into perfect green leaves peeking out above the cool soil. It’s such a miracle that they grow into delicate blooms in all of the colors of the rainbow when months before they were brittle sticks, hardly exhibiting any signs of life. I think gardeners take delight in all things earth that others unknowingly pass by. Unintentionally, those who have not had the opportunity to work a piece of land and observe it grow into something amazing have missed the most beautiful and simplest forms of nature. They never know the butterflies who appreciate the lure of the flower, or the bee on its way to work throughout a garden bed. My solace in an hour less sleep early on Monday morning is everything that awaits in the coming months. This Spring collect your seed packets, survey the perennial divisions, and scan the annual displays inthe stores – take time to notice the joy found in your own piece of earth.


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