Driving along Federal Twist Road last weekend, I stopped my car for a quiet look at the forest. With sunlight beaming down in silent stillness, I could almost hear it, spring in the air.
Of course, I knew that, as the calendar goes, spring had arrived. I was about to go home and continue burning the garden … much later than ever before because of the record-setting snow and ice this winter (the photo below is cheating because I took it before leaving for a month’s vacation in the southern hemisphere, but you get the idea).
Spring maintenance has changed. I’ve planted more shrubs in recent years, recognizing they offer a visual interest different from the herbaceous perennials that are the mainstay of my garden. Of course, shrubs make burning impossible in parts of the garden, so I am doing much more cutting than in years past. The bank is now mulched with grass clippings.
Some of it is really ugly. Like this wet, black blot…
… but the long shadows of the setting sun do wonders, creating parallel channels of light redolent with emotion, even on the newly flattened garden.
Another week of cleanup and then I hope a little structural work can begin. Some new paving and small paths for individual roaming, then planting. Here the blacks, ochers and burnt umbers draw together the stressed colors of box, possibly dead, on the left, and the quickening willows at right.
I was intrigued by the sight of thousands of Crocosmia in long grass along the roadsides in New Zealand, and I’ve gotten a quantity of corms I want to plant in masses among the grasses in the space below. It’s a risk, but what’s gardening without risk? They should blossom then disappear among the other plants, none yet visible.
I also got a shipment of Liatris corms, many of which will go in the open space below, to add to the mix of Filipendula rubra and other large perennials. Last fall, I seeded in Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica). It’s already all over the garden, but I wanted more for the late blue.
It’s taken a few years, but I now look forward to this time of transition, and I find these colors emotionally compelling, if not downright beautiful.