Thursday, April 30, 2015


April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.

-T.S. Eliot

As a child growing up in rural Alabama one of my fondest memories was sleeping to the sound of rain on our tin roof. It was also one of my greatest fears that the rain would change into a terrible thunderstorm or tornado, as it often did in April and May. I can't even begin to guess how many sleepless  nights we spent in a storm cellar during tornado season.

                         April in the Sweet Garden

This April has lived up to its reputation " April showers bring May flowers. "  It rained heavily everyday for an entire week.  I was astonished at the huge volume of water that poured from the sky during a very heavy downpour.  I wish that I could pipe some of it out to California .

                    Birds have set up a nest in my birdhouse.  There is food and water nearby for the parents when the babies hatch.

Despite the many rainy days we had I managed to add quite a few new shrubs to the woodland garden :  Aronia, Red Buckeye, kerria japonica, 2  'celestial ' dogwoods, a kousa hybrid and 'appalachian snow. '   I spread one large bag of butterfly and hummingbird wildflower seeds in the roadside wildflower garden.  So many plants from last year have returned, much to my surprise and delight, given the harsh winter we had. 

                One of my favorite natives, red buckeye.

It is my goal to have drifts of sweet woodruff, autumn ferns, woodland phlox, lily of the valley, ferns, barrenwort, astilibe, bergenia, mullien, cranesbill geranium, hellebores, pulmonaria, brunnera , jacob's ladder, and columbines in the woodland garden that fronts my house.  Planting them requires a lot of work as its not possible to dig very deep in the hard pan soil that is rock and clay so I must prepare all the areas with good topsoil mixed with compost and manure.

   The boulder garden in back has sprung to life with iris, catmint, daffodils, lamb's ear, dianthus, ajuga and soapwort in bloom.

Since I haven't put up a fence in my backyard yet I've only planted tomatoes and green onions which I keep sprayed with deer and rabbit repellent.  I'm hoping to break ground on a new fence sometime within the next month or so.  So far I have an orchard of 2 Asian pears, persimmon, pawpaw tree, and a nectarine.

     Spring onions and Better boy tomatoes in raised bed.

Because of my intensive purchasing and planting my daughter asked me if I there would ever come a time when I wouldn't have anything left to plant to which I replied a gardener's work is never done.  I do however look forward to the day when I can enjoy the fruits of my labor.

Now April draws to a close and so does my 70th year.  Tomorrow I shall be a year older and hopefully, wiser.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


Dear March - Come in - 
How glad I am -
I hoped for you before -
Put down your Hat - 
You must have walked -
How out of Breath you are - 
Dear March, how are you, and the Rest -
Did you leave Nature well - 
Oh March, Come right upstairs with me -
I have so much to tell -

I got your Letter, and the Birds - 
The Maples never knew that you were coming -
I declare - how Red their Faces grew -         
But March, forgive me - 
And all those Hills you left for me to Hue - 
There was no Purple suitable - 
You took it all with you -         
Who knocks? That April -
Lock the Door -
I will not be pursued -
He stayed away a Year to call 
When I am occupied -         
But trifles look so trivial 
As soon as you have come
That blame is just as dear as Praise 
And Praise as mere as Blame -

-Emily Dickinson
March was a fickle month of wild swings in temperatures -some warm and inviting and others with the sharp biting winds that she is known for. The daffodils and violas enjoyed the cool brisk days and the birds were busy gathering nesting materials and food.
On warm sunny days I ventured to the garden center and selected a curly Japanese corkscrew willow, more lily of the valley, sweet woodruff, bleeding heart, bergenia, foamy bells, cranesbill, ferns, rosemary, lavender, rose campion, monards, and mullein, to name a few. I started my fragrance garden in the front near the porch so that when I walk out I can smell the aroma.
I planted a 'bees jublilee' in the urn and added a twig trellis for it to climb on. All the plants in this area are fragrant herbs or perennials, with the exception of the evergreens.
In the front woodland garden my plan is to grow drifts of sweet woodruff, woodland phlox, lily of th valley, cranesbill, and ferns. Below is the area that fronts my property. The woods are a little sparce so I will plant more dogwood, viburnum, mahonia and nandina to fill it in.
The little blue chair is where my granddaughter Lea likes to sit and look in the small pond for tadpoles. As you can see I keep a layer of mother nature's mulch -leaves which I've shredded and pine straw, to protect my new plants and to enrich the soil.
I used to just tolerate March when I lived in Chicago but I feel differently about it now. It really does bring us Spring here - even if just for a day or a week. And while I know that April 15 is our last hard freeze date I have gambled by planting many things this month and so far they've all survived.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...