April is National Garden Month, and National Gardening Day is April 14. There is also a National Garden Week founded by National Garden Clubs but we will have to wait for June 7-13 to celebrate. We have lots of time and many occasions to celebrate our gardens, and get busy!
There have not been too many glorious spring days, but the weather has been sufficiently cooperative that we have gotten out to do some spring cleaning. We do not do much in the way of fall clean-up because we want to protect creatures that live through the winter under our leaves, or snack on the sunflower, aster, and coreopsis seeds that fall on the ground. We are protecting the wild creatures of our area as best we can. The joy of spring clean-up is the delight in finding greenery already showing. I recognize the clumps of asters, boltonia, cardinal flowers, daylilies, black-eyed susans, Jacobs ladder, and rhubarb.
There are happy surprises. I forgot I had planted a handful of scilla bulbs last year. They showed themselves a few days ago, and I almost didn’t recognize them for what they were. Once I identified them I realized they would have to be moved. The scillas showed their sky blue flowers right in what will be the new (short) Rose Walk. I remembered that I had planted snow drops somewhere, but was surprised to find them growing by the peonies. Actually the two peonies may need to be moved too. They are in much too shady a spot.
I am so happy to be able to out in the garden. One of the benefits of gardening is the exercise we get. Of course, we all have our ways of working in the garden. I do a lot of my gardening, cutting back, clearing, planting and weeding, on my knees. On a spongy mat I say a little prayer for the plants and our world while I am giving my back a rest.
Some of my friends volunteered to care for the garden in the Energy Park. I have joined them, but I confess that when the different areas were being parceled out I requested the smallest garden at the south entrance. All of us choose as many native plants as possible. Our rationale is that native plants will attract pollinators from all types of bees, flies, lacewings, and butterflies. Supporting pollinators is important to local farms as well because many food crops require pollination.
Wisty Rorabacher has many talents including photography and making identification signs for different plants. She is especially fond of spring ephemerals. These native plants are so eager that they sometimes raise their heads right into the snow. She has brought many of these spring ephemerals to the Energy Park.
Wisty Rorabacher – Gardener and Photographer of Spring Ephemerals. She explained her method. “Once I clear an appropriate-sized patch of ground, and place a specific plant, and another and another, my gardening job is simply to get rid of unwanted plants, like grass, that might crowd out what I desire. Otherwise, my tasks are to be patient, observant, and enjoy. I start looking for tiny signs of new life as soon as the snow is almost gone. I love the whole process, from the gradual unfurling of stems and leaves, to the emergence of blossoms, the creation of seed pods, on and on until the plant goes dormant once again.”
Ardy Keim is another Energy Park Gardener, but he has a garden at home as well. He happily told me about preparing his garden. “The first time this season I put seeds in the ground. That process, seed to soil, makes me realize I’m part of a larger system of life on the planet. The surface, soil and vegetation is so much more than my being here. Yet we live in harmony when the connection is recognized and promoted. It’s called gardening.
“While in my garden yesterday, I saw an overwintered radish plant that had gone to seed. I picked the pods to coax out the seeds. Then, looking at the soil and weeds and decaying organic matter in my raised bed, I looked for where to poke the seeds in the earth. They’ve waited since September. With the days getting warmer I look forward to seeing the first two leaves emerge.
“New life of spring uplifts the soul, with brown turning green and buds about to bloom. The fruit trees and shrubs I pruned in March are ready and happy. I am looking forward to a sunny day tomorrow and fruitful summer ahead,” Ardy said.
Nancy Hazard is another passionate gardener and is known for working with Greening Greenfield and the town’s tree planting project. Trees are so important. They are not only beautiful, they clean our air and give us shade. She told me simply, “I love gardening – listening to the birds – watching old friends emerge after the winter. It is so peaceful. I feel part of a whole – and the amazingness of all living things.”
My husband spends a lot of time with me out in the garden. He does heavy tasks, tasks that need his skills at putting up fence posts and wiring, and things I never thought of. While he is moving soil or compost around he is likely to stop and listen. He loves the music of the garden. He listens to the wind in our trees, and birdsong. And he taps me on my shoulder with a whisper, “Listen. Listen to the cardinal.” And I stop. And I listen.
Between the Rows April 11, 2020