Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Reality of spring - posting from SE Michigan
All the bright colors in the photo, just two weeks old, are now gone: the redbud tree, the grape hyacinths, the red tulips, and the last of the golden daffodils. But they are being replaced by the next in the procession of spring beauties: the clematis on that lamppost is now in bloom; irises succeed the tulips. Out back, the periwinkle bloom and the violets multiply. The cute little mazus reptans are thriving and flowering, although too tiny to appreciate from across the yard.
The lilacs, after a glorious season, are done for the year. It is time to hack the neighbor's back from my driveway and mine back from my other neighbor's driveway. My dwarf red and extra-dwarf apricot azaleas have opened their first flowers, with the real show still to come. The Tiny Monster geraniums, more monstrous than tiny after many years, have begun their summer-long flower show, and the lemon thyme is a carpet of deep pink. Rosebuds are fat but still unopened, although that will change with all the rain we've been getting.
Other rhythms of life are also evident. Mama robin, on my porch light, has raised her brood of three, and she and papa no longer shriek and head-smack all who dare to approach my front door. The family waits for its annual gorging on my Bing cherries. Although "extra dwarf," the tree has long since grown too big to net.
The power was out all Saturday after a lightning storm killed the transformer in my backyard, so I spent the day planting, between showers, lots of things I'd been looking at in catalogs for years and unexpectedly found in the nursery just outside my neighborhood: Queeny Purple hollyhock, pyrethrum red painted daisy, tradescantia Zwanenburg Blue, crocosmia Lucifer, chocolate daisy, blue dwarf sea holly. I moved a few plants to better homes for them and also put in the red-leaf begonias around the mailbox and the deep red callibrachoa across the back yard. Much of these had to be covered against frost Saturday and Sunday nights, as did the Early Girl in its wall-o'-water and the rosemary, parsley, and basil; I was glad I had held off on the other tomatoes and peppers on the kitchen windowsill. The two big planter boxes were also filled with new assortments of plants, but those can be wheeled into the garage overnight.
It may have been premature, but I'm glad I did all that planting, since the gardening parts of the backyard are now under inches of water and will be unwalkable for weeks, even after the rain stops. It is this time of spring when I am relieved not to be fruitlessly washing the paws of my late dog many times a day as she returns from patrolling the swamp. And maybe it will even be too wet for the bunnies who wiped out my early greens and snap peas (and astilbe!) to come after the second crop before I get the anti-bunny fencing up. I don't like to do that until I have the veggies all planted, since it's a pain to lean over. I really need to get some genuine rubber boots for this season — my tootsies nearly froze in the crosslites when I was placing and removing anti-frost covers in standing, 40-degree water. We'll see soon enough whether that tradescantia really does like wet feet.