23 March 2007

Welcome to the swamp…..aiiiiiiy-yeeeeeee!

My socks are wet.

I could take them off, and will in a few minutes, but mostly I’m reveling in the sense of wet socks and soggy sneakers (even though my Merills will not thank me for such treatment). I’ve just come indoors from a stroll around the swamp-that-is-our-yard, looking over things.

It’s wet, for sure. All that clay, all those springs, all that snowmelt and rain, all conspires together with the up and down temperatures to make a mess. The parts of the yard that aren’t yet garden—some would call them ‘lawn’, but I call them garden-in-waiting—are heaved and hillocky, and the grass is flat and matted and just not nice. There’s a scum of bird seeds, cat poo, bird poo, and other detritus here and there in the yard. And although some of the beds are draining and fine, others are swimming in water. We go through this every spring, and at this time of year anyone who looked around the mess would run screaming, never believing that it would look drastically different in even a month’s time.

And of course every bed is filled with twigs, stems, and other matter from perennials that we left standing for ‘winter interest’. They’ve spent their winter interest now, except for a few intrepid teasels, that stand like sentinels in the back garden, regarding their domaine. Some of the plants, like the heucheras and cranesbills and others that have semi-evergreen or evergreen tendencies, look their absolute worst right now, bedraggled like they spent the winter running through a combine harvester. They’ll come around, naturally—they always do, despite looking ¾ dead every spring.

My garden journal is upstairs and I’m too lazy to go get it right now. I’m not even sure that the things I want to check are recorded last year. We have daffodils and crocus up at least two inches in most places; there are primrose leaves showing, looking like little brilliant green romaine lettuces; the Euphorbia ‘Fireglow’ has its funny copper-orange shoots, which always remind me of asparagus, sticking up in the lower garden; a lot of the daylilies have their noses sticking up out of the ground too. The autumn crocus shoots are starting too, and I see the huge thick rhizomes of the darmera poking up out of the soggy ground. It’s way, way too wet, of course, to investigate the garden except from the edges of each bed. That’s okay…what I could see from the margins was enough to make me happy.

I love the way the heaths, heathers and dwarf conifers are looking right now, too. They’re still holding their winter colours, which are quite gorgeous, but soon will start to put on their spring-go-to-meeting clothes, fresh and green and gold and blue…there will be more of all these things planted this year, as I continue to develop my love affair with evergreens. And daylilies, of course. Haven’t made my wishlist up for Wayne and Wayne yet, but I will shortly.

Speaking of wishlists, when I sent out my newsletter the other night, I made a wistful and covetous comment about this incredible new coneflower, Echinacea ‘Green Envy.’ It’s apparently been around for two years, but this is the first year it’s been available around here. I fell in love with it instantly when I saw it in the latest issue of Gardening Life, and was wondering where I might find it. Well…I have two plants on hold with one of my favourite nurseries. They have limited numbers, so I don’t really want to broadcast where they are, but here’s a hint: they’re named after a famous cape in the Valley where Glooscap sleeps. And they’re in Greenwich.

Won’t this plant look splendid with Echinaceas ‘Sunrise’ and ‘Sunset?’

(photo from Pride of Place Plants, who developed this beauty)

Currently, there’s an ongoing dialogue in my head. The garden-devil wants the evergreen mulch pulled away from the more finicky plants now, so that they can rejoice in the sun and warmth. The garden-angel is dancing up and down yelling “NO DON’T DO IT!”, knowing full well that we’re going to have very cold days yet this spring. I know that too, so I am ignoring the seductive sunlight and the warming breezes for a while yet.

Joy of joy, I even have the first dirt of the gardening season under my fingernails and in the skin of my fingers, from succumbing to the need to pull up a few perennial weeds that were yawning and stretching and preparing to break into a tentative gallop. The ground ivy will be first out of the race chocks, but I depressed quite a bit of it by hauling it out and flinging it into the paddock for the donkey to stand on.

All in all, it was a pretty heartening stroll around the yard. Yup, it’s a mess. Does this every year. And to finish off the surprises—that looked like a large-tailed grackle in the spruce trees near my woodland garden, royally telling me off. It wasn’t a starling, and it wasn’t a redwing blackbird…and I’m sure they weren’t back this early last year. Maybe they do know something we don’t.

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