Sunday lived up to its name this time around and actually was bright and sunny for a change. I should have gotten out much earlier in the day, but was out late celebrating life with some delightful friends. In the process, a few glasses of wine – for the good of my heart – were consumed, to the dismay of my head – and so Sunday’s start was not the earliest. Some of the headache can easily be attributed to the sinus pressure that spring time brings, as well, of course. But there was a little wine.
I had plans for Sunday, though. With an odd gift of sunshine, it was my plan to whip the garden bed out front into shape. I’d recently discovered a great cache of old bricks P had stock-piled on the property and gotten permission from her to use them as garden edging. There’s all kinds of things growing out there and I’ve been wanting to clean things up a bit and put a fresh face on it all, as the season progresses.
I’ve also been feeling a little meh lately, my thoughts wandering back to gardens planted and left in the past. As much as it’s often a comfort to know that I’ve left part of myself behind to pretty up so many different places, I do sometimes indulge myself the notion of what my garden would look like if they were all one massive garden that I’d been toiling in all these years. It’s not that there’d be less to do in the springtime, but I wouldn’t have to keep doing some things over and over again!
Ah, well. Fresh starts can be good things…and this one has been pretty enjoyable, all in all.
So, here’s the garden bed which is the “official patch” associated with my apartment.
You may recall I planted a number of things in here in the fall. I hadn’t quite remember all of what I put in there, honestly, so some of my discoveries this week (particularly the columbine) were surprises. There’s also heliotrope, rudbeckia, mums, irises, sage, some dianthus, a snapdragon and some threadleaf coreopsis that I planted, as well. The rudbeckia and mums both had dried seedpods that I broke up as I cleaned out the bed. Nothing wrong with encouraging some new seedlings.
Additionally, there’s a cluster of what I think might be money plant at one end of the bed, and also some leaves which look promising like some kind of mallow.
Time will tell.
I always like a little bit of an edge on a garden, to protect the plants within from a wandering foot or lawn mower. I’d not brought any of the rocks from the old garden, so finding the bricks was really kind of exciting. I should do a search to see if I can find out anything about them or where they were manufactured. They are old, all marked “S & H“, and I was pleased when I started laying them out to discover that there were more than enough of them to do this bed well.
When I turned over the soil at the edge of the bed to make digging the bricks in a bit easier, I did expand things a little as I weeded, on the non-driveway side of the fence. That’s the southern side, so even though it will often be in the shade of the house, it will also get some bright sunshine in the afternoon into evening, though it won’t get the blazing, morning-to-evening sun I had last year. Still, I have hope that I might be able to coax a couple sunflowers here, among other things.
Most of the bricks are half-buried, for the look I wanted, but I left a few buried flush with their imprinted side up on the southern edge. I like being able to have a place to step, or at least a flat place for a candle lantern or a flower pot to change out during the season. Plus, I like the way it looked.
As I finished off my work on the bed, a cardinal sang a sweet song high in the tree across the yard, seeming excited by my efforts. I had discovered a small shovel with a broken handle when I moved in last fall. I was in between shovels and so I made use of it until I was able to buy a new spade of my own. The broken one was still hanging about, so I stuck the broken end of it into the ground with the blade up for a bit of whimsy. I bet I can find a morning glory that would climb that in short orde
The white bits you see around the planted shovel and elsewhere in the garden are the oyster shells from the dozen I was gifted last month. They’ll add a bit of calcium to the bed, but they also represent for me the promises of this new life: they were gifted by new friends and represented me trying something new (the shucking)…so they’re a bit of a talisman for this new garden effort, too.
It’s hard to explain how it felt to have spent the day with my hands in the dirt, not bringing order so much as organizing the chaos. And it’s not just the dirt, its the whole experience. The blackbirds singing showtunes in the trees overhead, the chipmunks I never spotted but could hear laughing at me from near the lilacs, the robin who scared off the sparrows and finches when he wanted to have a bath in the driveway’s big puddle. Those sights and sounds are so important in my life. I found my mood improved greatly this past week, when it was warm enough to leave the door open at night and I could hear the peepers singing in the pond across the way as I fell asleep.
So that was a good afternoon’s work and combined with the delightful activities of the previous evening, I found myself crashing on the early side Sunday evening, remaining awake long enough to watch the Firefly movie, “Serenity” again (you may recall I discovered the series last summer, but didn’t get more than halfway through before it was time to move), before tumbling into slumberland, with John Cougar Mellowcat cuddled close beside me.
I awoke early with a purpose today, though, knowing there was a pretty intense rainstorm forecast to come our way in the second half of Monday. With luck, I could plant some pansies in the new garden bed just before the storm arrived, and save myself the trouble of watering them in. You’ll recall I’d already bought a few, which were happily settled into pots up on the deck, so these would be an all-new bunch, but which ones to choose. Off I went to my favorite nursery, where I was faced with a legion of possibilities.
So many styles and shapes and colors…and these are all just pansies. The season’s hardly even begun. As always, I’d be quite content with just a sixpack of EACH variety…but even putting that kind of limitation on things would still be cost prohibitive. And so decisions must be made.
In previous years, I’ve been a big fan of this variety to the left, enjoying the solid blue with the delicate yellow eye.
But this year, I find their blue not at all the thing I need, their nearly blank faces the no longer the comfort I once enjoyed. I’m looking for faces I can trust, perhaps, maybe something with a little more character.
There really are so many colors to choose from.
And every spring I consider the fire tones, which are so breath-taking at this time of year, when any color in the landscape is a new and amazing pleasure…but April always seems a bit soon for such great drama and I like to save those colors for marigolds and zinnias and mums and such later in the season.
Purples, blues, yellows. These seem the natural colors for the season, their hues matched and balanced by countless crocuses, daffodils, forsythia…and soon, hyacinths and tulips and then before we know it, violets and lilacs. Oh, I can hear you know: Greg, stop making such a fuss and plant something: they’re “only” pansies. Only pansies. So often in life, when you see the right face, you just know.
This fresh face was the one that caught my eye.
I love the classic look of those deeply-lined faces and the color-range was exactly what I wanted. This bright beauty was in a nice big nursery flat of pansies, all varieties from the same seed mix, some more blue than purple, or vice versa. At least one plant has all yellow flowers. Buying them this way was a good value, too, since there were seventeen distinctive plants (and a few of those were clusters of two or three plants together) in the big flat and when they were broken up, each keep a nice big rootball to get it started.
I also got a sixpack of violas in complimentary colors to set off the big faces with some small counterparts. My plan about planting them prior to the rain’s arrival didn’t work out exactly as I’d hoped. Over the weekend, I had also picked up a bag of assorted lily bulbs and those I got planted before the rains arrived. But the pansies, their planting got me quite muddy, which long-time readers will know wasn’t really an inconvenience for the Midnight Gardener, who really likes playing in the dirt.
And OH, how it has rained.
That was around 11 this morning that the rain arrived, and it has been a steady and often-heavy falling companion throughout the day. A few thunder-boomers have come through, with their bright flashes and window-rattling booms. For a while, the temperature dropped from this morning’s 47 down to about 42…but now (just before midnight) it’s 53, but the winds are whistling and gusting as strong as I heard them back in the storms of January.
Last week, the rains were keeping me inside, stopping me from doing my part at ushering in the spring season. And I hated them for it. Now that I’ve had a little sunshine and been able to accomplish a few things, the rain is a gift to me, encouraging the good work I’ve accomplished. And that makes all the difference.