flower children

On a morning when I already am in a funk because of side effects from medication, the weather is sending me precariously close to the edge of the crazy cliff.

A few days back there was sunshine! for a whole day! and warm weather. tank top shorts and flip flops warm weather! The sky was a thin blue, like a favorite shirt washed too many times, without a cloud to be found. I had my coffee basking in the garden, feeling like a cat all stretched out in the perfect slant of light...did I mention that there was sunshine?  and...fat buds and brand spanking new leaves on the trees, soaking up the light and sporting a thousand shades of green while swaying lazily in the breeze. I was ridiculously happy! The light reflected off of everything, looking like tiny candle flames, there were exciting new things happening almost every moment.


My mind wandered to when we first moved into this house, the backyard was, well, ugly, to put it nicely. Bleak and depressing are the words that actually came to mind when I first saw it, but I pushed them away, buoyed by thoughts of English gardens with lavish flowers and copious color. In reality what I saw out of my window, those first few months was an altogether different tale...there was nothing but brown earth, weeds, and poison ivy. Having come from a well loved and much tended garden, I was rather unaccustomed to this dressing down. Every bush, tree and flower I planted was a validation of my faith that this was only just a phase, marking the beginning of a beautiful rendezvous.
The sad azalea's and rhododendron struggling there were of little comfort. The ivy and clematis were nothing to write home about. I had no idea what lay beneath, gardens are like that: you know, mysterious the first year. When, in late summer I spotted patches of color, I crossed my fingers and held my breath, hoping it was a new variety of perennials. Within days I had confirmation, weeds! 

Yep, it was one of those kinds of yards. I know you know what I'm talking about. The kind of yard that just struggles against your best efforts to smooth its ruffled edges. You try, you take deep breaths, you tell yourself this is just a lesson in patience. You go through your routine ~ weeding, planting, mulching, pruning.  Jump every hurdle that comes your way. The yard is too shady. The soil is too clay-y. The deer are eating everything. what else can you do but mutter a few curse words and sigh?

Ahhh, gardening...a celebration of love replete with flowers, sunshine and lots of hard work. It's no secret that I look forward to it every year since it really is my "get of of jail free" card to indulge in all of the aforementioned vices with complete and utter abandon. And let's not forget, it also allows me to indulge in another of my not-so-secret addictions...shopping. I am enamored with  the soft, magical powers of plants. with their gentile persona.  I love how the morning sun shines on them causing a warmth in my heart. Their gentle ways send me straight to garden estacy.

So how do you choose? limit the list to favorites? It's not easy, but I tackle the job as if I were inviting friends to a party, a garden party, choosing those I think I will have the best time with. Trying to work out a mix that will make our gathering interesting for all. Not all of my picks are hardy, so that brings about the matter of spending money for plants that last for only one season, one short season! Sadly, my guest list exceeded my pocket book again!  I do enjoy a good party. If my plan succeeds, I should be rolling in various peonies, hydrangeas, bleeding hearts, Lady's Mantle, Shasta Daisy's, asters, fox glove, dahlias, lobelia, cosmos, and larkspur not to mention Lisianthus, Delphiniums, hollyhawks, lupins, poppies, carnations, candytuft and sweet peas.

Oh, and did I mention the herbs? Yea, sweet basil, dill, chives, and oregano plus I'm bound and determined to find organic peppermint and chamomile so I can brew my very own tea. Seriously, I would love to track down whichever marketing guru came up with this concept and give them a big hug. I couldn't have dreamed up a better scam myself.

 I don't mind telling you that spring winter was hard this year. I felt the yuckies grab hold and just keep digging deeper and deeper. At times I felt it was mocking me waning my resilience like a petulant child. Sometimes I fought back, hard. Other times I just sat quietly. On the days I woke to freezing rain or sleet, I found my moods reflected in the muck being trudged through my house.There are health issues to deal with. Tragedies
across the world. Nothing at all. Yet at times I could feel the weight of the world on my shoulders. I wanted to wave my white flag and surrender. Then you came into my life, dear spring. Days were sprinkled with sunshine. Puddles emerged from under the ice. Robins appeared. A vase of tulips sat on my kitchen counter. sun rays streaking through the kitchen window. I realized the ice was not the only thing that melted. As I flipped a few pages of the calendar, realizing I was happy to bid ado to March and April...oh, May you are so full of hope and promises. Tomorrow I may get knocked down by life again,  but somehow it all feels doable now. I feel a slight shift. Oh May, I think I love you...you make magic happen. 

Today the sun is a milky glow in a sky the color of rubbed silver. The weathermen are threatening more coldish weather and rain, but I'm going to my happy place and will believe these beautiful spring days aren't going to budge. How I have missed my garden. that first sniff of rich, dark dirt. I want to grab my trowel and start digging! I knew I was in trouble when last week-end we went to the garden center. in the rain.
I have a plot to plan, weed and plant. One of the challenges of living in the mid-west is dealing with long winters and a short growing season, especially when an English garden is your idea of heaven! When I first came to town, azaleas and rhododendron were the norm, now there is English box woods, Sweet William and David Austin roses.  I've even managed to keep a few hydrangeas alive and have gorgeous pink peonies every spring. Yes, I weed and mulch like a fiend, yes, I've lost too many plants to count, but for all of my hard work and all of the losses, the reward of seeing that first rosebud open, seeing the explosion of colors as my sleepy garden pops back to life and smelling the glorious scents that waft through my windows makes it all worthwhile...and then some.

Now I know that you should not have favorites, but I will admit that the roses absolutely drop me to my knees. They are heartbreakingly beautiful and the many varieties to choose from is like picking the
perfect ball gown. I know, they may be a bit high maintenance, but at the end of the season they remind me of an elegant lady whose fallen on tough times, her dress might be a bit tattered and torn from frost, aphids and powdery mildew yet she sends up blooms so gorgeous that there is no question who rules this garden. And even though it is time-consuming, back-breaking work, I gladly kneel at her feet. As I walk through my garden to see how everyone is doing, fat pink buds catch my eye~peonies!I am so ready to embark on a new gardening season. anxious to see all of my flowery children, so like giggly girls at a slumber party, they may be a tad cranky, but they love showing off...twirling spinning and doing cartwheels in the sunshine. 

Healthy Spring Vegetable Risotto by Sally Bee
(go here for recipe)



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