This spring blogging and a whole lot of other stuff has been put on the back burner for the garden and a wee bit of travel. Once the days warm and the landscape begins to green, the plants call to me like sirens, beckoning me to get my hands in the dirt and to prepare the way for them. I recently read an article in an herbal magazine that said that gardening is a solitary occupation. I find it to be just the opposite. Plants do speak. Not in the way you and I might converse. There are no words in the garden, only feelings … an intuitive quality that when one stops to listen and look, gives direction as to where plants would like to placed.
It’s been a year since we moved to this new old house and the garden when we bought the place was stark. The photo below is what it looked like in April a year ago. The former owners planted a few trees and lots of boxwood and called it done. I saw the potential for what it could look like in my mind’s eye and had to wait for almost a year to pass before I could bring about a transformation. I’ve been having a blast!! For me gardening is like prayer. It’s about the only time you’ll find me on my knees, asking some higher power to tell me where to place the plants I collect. It is very much like painting with the earth being my canvas and the plants the pigments that I use to color the canvas.
About four weeks ago I began the piece. It started with a friend giving me some purple coneflowers that she was thinning out of her own garden. I promptly started visiting nurseries and garden centers looking for just the right plants to accompany them. As I walked down rows and rows of potted perennials I listened and looked, waiting for the nudge that told me that certain plants would like to come home with me. Having waited a year to begin, I knew how and where the sun would strike the canvas and that for the small beds in the back of the house I would need plants that could take full sun and/or part shade. I wandered back and forth picking those that called to me. I loaded them into the back of my Prius, never putting the back seat down to make room for more and brought them home. I spent several hours placing them around the beds until I had a notion that this particular spot was where a certain plant would like to be. I started with two kinds of hybrid goldenrod, yarrow in yellow and red, placing them around the river birch. I had an image in my mind of how it would look in the late summer and early fall, the yellows setting off the birch in the center. At first I didn’t plant a thing. I went back to the nurseries 3 or 4 days in a row, each time filling the back of my car with more plants that seemed to shout out to me. After placing the new arrivals about the garden, I started planting and began to see what was happening. I’d move one plant over there and back again until it was just right and there seemed to be no complaining.
And so it happened. I ‘ve spent the last weeks on this project with only a brief time out for a trip to New York City. I made many more trips to garden centers, chose other plants and have now called it quits to just let it be. I’m sure I’ll be called again as new plants catch my eye. For now I’m getting vegetables into the ground with three different kinds of heirloom tomatoes … orange, red and yellow bell peppers … two different kinds of eggplant. We’ve been eating spinach and lettuce I’ve grown. Beets and swiss chard are on the way along with carrots.