Driving home from Delhi this afternoon, in the middle of April, I felt the excitement of spring all around me. Forsythia in full bloom, daffodils everywhere, coltsfoot, those tiny yellow dandelion-like flowers, that seem to border the roads at this time of year, the blush of maple blossoms and the dainty white flowers of the serviceberry trees. With Mozart at top volume on the car radio and this feast to my eyes, my heart was bursting! My house in Palmer Hollow is a little behind. The daffodils are just beginning, as is the forsythia, so I’ll get to see this scene again in a few days. It’s amazing to see everything wake up in its time. Hostas are poking their noses through the ground. Bleeding heart is sleepily unfurling its red leaves. Dianthus is opening. Pansies display their faces. Phlox, iris and daylilies are all showing me where they were sleeping and telling me not to dig there. Perennials have timed their waking to follow the bulbs’ demise. How do they know?
Seed packets, prominently displayed in all the stores now, are so tempting with their beautiful illustrations, I can’t resist them, even as I’m telling myself, “No. Keep the maintenance low. Remember, you have to take care of everything you plant”. Every year I buy more of these enticing seeds and then forget to plant them. They sit on a shelf in the refrigerator door until one day I realize that the time for planting has passed. I keep reminding myself that there’s not enough sun for most vegetables in my garden, now that the river birches have grown so large. Maybe the leafy greens will come up before the trees that I love shade them. Certainly tomatoes will need lots of sun. One year, I tried growing them with the perennials, where there was more sun. It didn’t work well. They need special attention and long stakes that looked unsightly among the flowers. How could I not grow tomatoes though? It’s always a gamble whether they’ll ripen before the frost comes, and unless I buy them well started, they never do make it. Still, I keep trying. (Don’t plant them until the first week in June!)
I will do more container gardening this year. It’s easy and convenient to the kitchen, to the garden hose and to the bright sun. Containers do need attention. The soil needs regular fertilizing and watering, which makes the upkeep expensive. There are potting soils that are mixed especially for container gardening, with the proper nutrients and polymers to keep the soil from drying out too quickly.
Goldfinches have donned their spring coats and the bright yellow matches the yellows of the flowers blooming at the same time. Birds are busily building their nests. A starling couple has discovered an entry to the overhang and fly back and forth all day with soft twigs to make their babies’ nest inside. I can’t cover the opening until the baby birds have left.
By the time you are reading this column, spring will have reached its peak; lilacs will be blooming, flowering trees opening one after the other. You’ll have planted your spinach, peas and lettuce and are well into the gardening season. With the pleasures come the insects. I am well prepared. First comes the sunscreen and then long sleeves tucked into garden gloves, long pants tucked into socks and a hat and cage of netting for my face tucked into the buttoned-up collar of my shirt, leaving no opening for those “no-see-ums” to enter and take a bite.