Tonight’s Walk

– Posted in: What's up/blooming

The wild Juneberries are blooming everywhere I look. It’s like a fairyland. It fills me with wonder and delight. As I walk through the Secret Garden, I find one small bit of hepatica, out of five or six plants I had originally placed across from the snowdrops. Did the drought last summer kill them, or the voles and rabbits this past winter? I see the Queen-of-the-prairie made it back for another year. I’d better readjust the tomato cage I put around it, so I can find it when all the other grasses and flowers are up. The wild geranium is all over, and will be blooming soon. It was here when we moved in. I think I also see a patch of Anenome canadensis where I planted some two or three years ago. Dare I hope? The foliage is so similar to the geranium foliage I can’t be sure until it blooms–if it blooms.

I think–think–think I see a rosette of leaves belonging to the cardinal flower. I planted it in the wettest possible spot, and it did bloom last summer. Made me feel like I at least got one native plant in the right place. No sign of the water forget-me-not Myosotis palustris that I planted, though there are clumps of the annual forget-me-not here and there. I don’t think either of them are native to this continent, but I’m not sure. The Virginia bluebells and Solomon’s seal are both up, and the bluebells are blooming. They always bloom here sooner than they do in my “tame” garden by the house. No sign of the lone Jack-in-the-pulpit I planted two years ago. Quite possibly last summer’s drought did that in, too. The trilliums I planted on the opposite side of the path, which is slightly moister, are up and about to bloom. They seem small to me. I hope to find time to mulch each one with leaf mold.

Want to know where I got my leaf mold? I know you don’t really care, but this story is typical of how things go around here. We used to have two large maples in our front yard, and the children would rake up the leaves and jump in the pile, over and over again. But the larger of the two maples died and had to be cut down. So my kids asked the neighbors if they could rake their (the neighbors’) leaves, bag them up, and bring them over to our house to make a leaf pile. Which they did. And they had a lot of fun jumping in the pile. But no one raked the leaves off our lawn; they stayed there all winter. Pretty soon it will be time to cut the grass for the first time, so I’m going to have get my leaf mold soon, before my son figures out his own method of disposing of it.

Back to the walk . . . The mayapples are starting to unfurl their umbrellas. I didn’t plant them–they were here before we were. Now I turn off the Secret Garden path into our field. I have a Cornelian cherry planted in this field where it can be seen from the second story window of our house. It’s supposed to bloom before the forsythia, but it hasn’t. I pick off one of the flower buds and open it up. I see some stamens, but no petals. I’m not quite sure what the structure of a Cornelian cherry blossom is like; I just know the flowers should be yellow. It seems like the flower formation was aborted somehow. The drought again? Or could they have been frozen? It got cold last winter, but not colder than twenty below. At any rate, it’s about to leaf out and looks healthy, so I can hope for next year.

Now, across the field to the vegetable garden, where it looks like we’ll have some asparagus this year. Probably not enough at the same time to make a meal, at least not for our family. To do this fall: construct another raised bed for asparagus, to be planted next spring. Going back down the hill towards the house, I decide to check the variegated pagoda dogwood one more time. The bark is off the whole bottom third of the twig that passes for its trunk. I don’t see how it could still be alive, but I don’t want to admit my $35 grafted twig might be dead. It doesn’t look girdled; I remember checking and the bark seemed to slip off when I touched it. Can’t blame the voles for that one, I guess. It still had leaves on it last fall, so could it, once again, be the drought? It is terrible having such a shallow well that I can’t water when the garden most needs it, but I try to be thankful that it didn’t go completely dry last summer. Well, it’s getting too dark to see clearly anymore. Time to go back to the house.

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

If winter is slumber and spring is birth, and summer is life, then autumn rounds out to be reflection. It’s a time of year when the leaves are down and the harvest is in and the perennials are gone. Mother Earth just closed up the drapes on another year and it’s time to reflect on what’s come before.

~Mitchell Burgess in Northern Exposure

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