As we near the end of February, we are exiting the most challenging two months for me out of the calendar year. Now, I’m not a huge fan of March or April, in particular, because there’s this liminal space between winter and spring that’s just awkward. There’s a reason T.S. Eliot labeled April the “cruelest month.” There’s just something uncomfortable with the patches of snow on lawns, piles of sand & salt, & general grayness of everything, & then there’s the wait for the buds and blooms.
But at least it won’t be January & February.
Spring looms in the distance; yet, it doesn’t always come as quickly as we might like. It’s like a kid having to eat the veggies to get desert. The desire for bright sunshine and colorful blooms makes us impatient, & the world seems unfair in delaying their onset.
The irises that grow near the Japanese maple.
That wait for new life challenges us. Usually, I’ll do my pruning in April, before the trees in the orchard wake up. And there’s a pattern of blooms that starts with forsythia & bleeding heart, forget-me-nots & lungwort, daffodils & lily-of-the-valley, Solomon’s seal, irises, Appalachian foam flower, & peonies. Like a domino effect, blooms set off one by one from May through September.
Lungwort in bloom.
Close-up of lungwort blooms.
In May, the gardening schedule will begin with ordering mulch, planting annuals in the whiskey barrels, clipping hedges, raking leaves, & planting new perennials to enhance pocket gardens. Each year brings new projects, new additions to the landscape, completed throughout the summer months.
Appalachian foam flower.
A few specimens are truly special. The showy pink lady slippers are up to four blooms from the original two, for example. I’ve always loved pink lady slippers because of their rarity, as they had become endangered in New Hampshire. This variety was grown from seed out in Montana, & I ordered it through Nettie at Uncanoonuc Mountain Perennials. Many of the coolest plants at the farm have come from her.
The original two showy pink lady slippers.
As you may have guessed, I miss my gardens and the flowers. But I’m grateful for the brighter sun, increasingly longer days, and warmer temperatures. Soon, vegetation will awaken, yawning and stretching out from the soil.
Life will return. Yes, it will. And I just can’t wait.