Friday, April 16, 2010

Daffodils Bring Spring Cheer

"I wandered lonely as a cloud,
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine,
And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretch in never ending line,
Along the margin of the bay;
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not be but gay,
In such jocund company:
I gazed - and gazed - but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on, my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils."

William Wordsworth (1770 - 1850)

These words penned so many years ago by William Wordsworth are known by many around the world, and today as I look out my window I see exactly what he was talking about. It's cool and breezy and the daffodils in my garden are fluttering and dancing in the breeze. Daffodils to me are one of the quintessential harbingers of spring. As the snow recedes and the ground retreats from hibernation, daffodils spring up, their cheery yellow colour brightening our days and reminding us the the fullness of the garden season yet to come. My garden is home to many varities of daffodils from single flowers to double petalled blooms, from delicate dwarfs to giant trumpets, each strikingly beautiful in their own design.

The prophet Isaiah in the Bible trumpeted the glory of God saying, "Let the wilderness and dry lands exult, let the wasteland rejoice and bloom, let it bring forth flowers like the jonquil, let it rejoice and sing for joy." And how true it is, for daffodils do make us feel joyful - that winter is over and spring is here. Their bright sunny colour also makes our hearts sing for their cheerfulness elevates our spirits after the long cold winter.

And so today, my daffodils are "tossing their heads in sprightly dance" and I sit gazing on their stunning beauty for they are the percursor of the beauty that is yet to come. But remember that if you want to be greeted with a "host of golden daffodils" next spring, you'll have to plant bulbs this fall. And with over 8,000 varities to choose from, I would hasten to say there isn't a gardener who couldn't find just one variety to bring a smile to their face.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Celebrate Spring - Happy Easter!

"European writer Karl Capek described spring as 'the rebellious outburst of the will to live.' A spring garden may be an acre of woodland, a special corner by the kitchen door or no more than a tub of tulips; but whatever for it takes, it is always the gardener's celebration of that joyful and indomitable spirit, the will to live."

I'm not really sure what happened but while we were away in Kenya for a couple of weeks, spring arrived. When we left there was two feet of snow on the ground and when we got home, the snow was gone, and the tulips, crocus and snowdrops along with the daffodils were bursting forth. Apparently as soon as we left, warm weather swept through Muskoka and melted all the snow. Our friends said we missed the best two weeks of weather. Oh well, we were happy to experience summer in Kenya.

It's Easter weekend and a great time to celebrate spring and the rebirth and renewal it brings. How great it was this weekeknd to open the windows and have fresh air blow through the house, to hang laundry once again on the clothesline in the sunshine and to set up the gazebo, get the table and chairs out of the potting shed and enjoy wine and cheese with my good friend Sandra as a day of garden clean-up ended. We had a hard winter and many of the plants and shrubs have suffered under the weight of winter's white snows. Broken branches need to be trimmed and the loss of three of the mature maples on the exterior perimeter of our property mean the face of our garden will change yet again this summer. More sun may mean the hostas will feel out of place but we will see. And I think of it as an opportunity to try out some new varieties of sun-loving perennials to attract both birds and butterflies.

Tomorrow is another day - the grapes still need to be trimmed, the compost to be turned, gardens to be mulched and the raised veggie boxes to be turned. I hope to plant my tomato seeds to - I feel a little behind this spring but Kenya was a great experience for our second trip to Wongonyi Village. It was amazing to see the banana plantation, unfortunately the bananas still had another two months before they reached maturity so we weren't able to taste them. But the Ushvika Ladies Group were very happy when we arrived with their new oil press. Now they will be able to press their sunflower seeds making oil for their own use and hopefully have excess to sell and generate income.

Spring is the perfect time to give thanks for the beauty and wonder of creation and the season of rebirth and renewal that heralds a new summer season soon to come.

Happy Easter!