Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Soft Showers bring Beautiful Flowers

"It was the sixth of May,
And May had painted with her soft showers
A garden full of leaves and flowers.
And man's hand had arrayed it with such craft
There never was a garden of such price
But if it were the very Paradise."
Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400) from The Canterbury Tales
Today was one of those special spring days - overcast but with a light gentle rain that persisted throughout the day nourishing the earth. I love these kinds of days, the rain falls softly, not a hard pounding rain that bounces off the ground and runs quickly away but rather soft and gentle soaking into the turf and gardens. You can almost see the plants absorbing the moisture, standing taller, looking stronger.
Even though the sky is darker, the colours of the plants are more luminous. The many shades of the emerging leaves become brighter, more saturated in colour. One is amazed at how many different shades of green there really are in the colour palette. One of my favourite things to do after a rain, is to grab my camera and head outside to photograph raindrops still clinging to the blooms. Lady's Mantle is a great plant for it collects rain and dewdrops in the centre of the leaf. And any flower that drips with raindrops catches my eye for they are like jewels adorning the blooms.
And not to mention the fresh, clean smell that lingers in the air, the earth refreshed, nourished and ready to shine in the next day's sunshine. It's a good thing I was able to plant my veggie seeds yesterday in anticipation of today's rain. I look forward with anticipation to the fresh produce soon to come and be enjoyed in my culinary creations. So embrace the rain and the renewed life force it brings.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Mistress of Mulch

"Here remember, that you never take in hand or begin the weeding of your beds, before the earth be made soft, through the store of rain, falling a day or two before."

Thomad Hyll, ("The Gardener's Labyrinth 1590)

My husband fondly refers to me in his articles as "the resident gardener" but this week I've renamed myself "The Mistress of Mulch". It's a pretty descriptive name and I think you get the picture. After two years of being away for most of the summer touring other people's gardens and judging for Communities in Bloom my gardens have suffered from neglect and the proliferation of goutweed is the telling tale.

So with an upcoming 90th birthday party for my mother-in-law and her sisters this month and then the invitation to be included in the garden tour in July, I've been out in the garden every sunny day, busily weeding, weeding and doing more weeding. At first I felt overwhelmed but I began to tackle one small bed or area after another and the goutweed is slowly disappearing (only temporarily I fear) and as I complete each little area, I cover the freshly weeded soil with a layer of natural cedar mulch. There is something very satisfying about seeing the hostas surrounded by a skirt of mulch.

But with so many garden beds, I have only just begun and already I've gone through 9 bags of mulch. But I just keeping reminding myself how nice it will all look once I'm finished and my spirits are already lifting when I look out from the bedroom window to see the completed beds. It has just started to rain and they predict more tomorrow, so I will get a day's rest to recharge for more weeding. So this summer I shall happily wear the crown "The Mistress of Mulch".

But I'll go now and put my morning glory and peas seeds to soak so I can pot them up tomorrow. A gardener's work is never done!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Spring Showers bring May Flowers

"On Early Morning
Peach blossom after rain
Is deeper red;
The willow fresher green;
Twittering overhead;
And fallen petals lie wind-blown
Unswept upon the courtyard stone."

Translated from the Chinese by Helen Waddell

This Chinese poem resonated with me yesterday as it rained constantly the entire day. Not that I was unhappy as I love the sound of the rain as it falls upon the earth. I also love, as the poem states, the willow fresher green, for all the world seems greener after a spring shower and there is a certain clean aroma to the earth following a rain. You can almost see the flowers perk up with the added moisture.

Yesterday I also heard a cardinal sing and when I looked up there it was, red and regal in our cedar tree. I felt even more joyful when the female cardinal swooped in to meet its mate. I really hope they set up house in one of the nearby trees for we don't get many cardinals in our neck of the woods, lots of blue jays but cardinals are a rare sighting. I was also surprised to walk out of the garden gate and see a bird's nest in a maple sapling. I haven't seen any birds actually building the nest but it wasn't there a couple of days ago. I'll just have to keep my eyes open.

But not all is rosy at Rosewood (the name we call our house) for Friday our daughter Martha exclaimed that a weird creature had taken up residence under our front porch. We kept watching and yesterday afternoon out popped a groundhog, an unusual critter for a town garden. As much as I love wildlife in the garden, this creature will need to find a new home. He's already dug a few holes in our lawn, so tomorrow Peter will make a trip to the rental store to see if he can get a live trap so we can catch the critter and relocate him to a new home in the country. I really don't want to have him munching on all the tasty delights my garden might offer. The chippies and squirrels are wildlife enough.

I love spring - the tulips and daffodils are in bloom, the hellebores are in flower along with the pulmonaria and the trees and shrubs are beginning to bud and leaf out. As the new tree leaves are forming the sky seems to be bright with lime green colour and the returning birds are twittering overhead. Everything seems alive.

So I leave you with this thought by Margaret Cropper

"Far beyond hope the Spring is kind again,
Lovely beyond the longing of my eyes."