IN THE MORNING, I slip out of bed, pad down the carpeted stairs in my pjs, open the living room shades to let the sun in, and head for the kitchen to hit the coffee go-button. It is early. Not sunrise-and-birdsong early (that was 4:47 a.m. today) but Susie-early, meaning I have borrowed a few hours from my preferred pre-8 a.m. activity (sleep) to do a garden check. I am full of Christmas-morning glee, anticipating the joy of finding something new, something sparkly, something captivating.
I love this garden check so much that I do it every morning now on repeat. Farmer joins me. I throw a flannel shirt on over my PJs and stuff my bare feet into a pair of old Keen slip-on mules I keep by the door. Out I go.
And back in I go. Out and in. Back and forth until I’ve hauled out whatever plants spent the night indoors. I am still hardening off the last of the 60 dahlias and 200 seedlings that started life inside in the bathroom shower and under grow lights.
Farmer heads off to the woods while the coffee cup and I start our rounds. We head down the gravel path past the towering Bowl of Beauty peony my sister gave me from her garden a few years ago. It has finally settled in and is showing off its lollipop buds by hogging the air space a small rose and some Russian sage were supposed to commandeer.
I stoop to pull from the stone path another round of offspring from the flighty geranium Karmina. The tiny volunteers are everywhere, both in the path and in the horseshoe-shaped perennial bed to my left, where a war of aggressors is being waged. The marauding Blue Moon “Sugar Buzz” bee balm has marched, in an unstatesmanlike manner, across the border of its own territory and into several neighboring nations, including Zagreb coreopsis (no shy foe there) to the north and Tutti Frutti Apricot Delight yarrow to the west. In clear and present danger to the south is a thatch of Amethyst Pearl phlox I am so hoping to see bloom profusely this year. A lone poppy is holding its ground.
I stop at the outdoor shower, anxious to see if anything has snacked on the clematis or the climbing rose we’ve trained up the trellis. I’m relieved that my stinky Bobbex-spraying seems to be working. The clematis has bloomed, offering up humongous lilac-blue flowers that are so pretty as to be almost fake looking. Next year, I hope there will be more blooms, but even if there are, I doubt they will coincide with the rose blooming. I’m afraid I chose the wrong rose-clematis combo. The rich apricot blooms of Crown Princess Margareta climbing rose were meant to be a foil for the blue clematis, but H.F. Young appears to do its thing almost entirely before Margareta’s first bud breaks.
Farmer is back, doing a roly-poly on a mossy patch beneath the seven-trunk oak. By now I am around the corner, past the Millenium alliums that some critter (maybe a bunny) decided were not too oniony for his taste, and the daylilies, fenced off with an ugly chicken-wire-and-stake situation because there is no question that they are on the deer dream menu.
I am staring at a fat mound of perennial willow-leaf sunflower stalks (Helianthus salicifolius) squeezed between three Karl Foerster feather reed grasses, wondering what to do with this bounty. There are maybe 40 or 50 stalks (there were only 5 or 6 last year) about waist high right now, and each will grow 10 feet tall as they did last year. (Which in itself was astonishing to watch.) Who knew this plant was a secret kudzu, pretending to play nice and offer a cheery, late-season skyline of bright yellow flowers, all the while spreading like wildfire at its roots. I think I might have to yank some of this up. I make a mental note, never having paper and pen along on these garden checks.
By now the coffee cup is abandoned and I am focused on counting the number of coneflower blossoms I see coming when I’m startled out of my reverie by the whir of a hummingbird. Our little guy is back – hurrah! He’s come to poke in and out of the tubular flowers of a new salvia I’ve just planted. My eyes follow his zippy path back up the hill to the vegetable garden, where I see that Farmer has taken up his position in the direct sun near the garden gate. There he can keep one eye on me and one eye on the back door, where he expects Daddy to arrive any minute, usually offering treats for no particular reason.
I realize I am running out of time and must move on to the vegetable garden (aka the fenced garden where flowers for cutting are grabbing more and more space from the vegetables every year). The peas are happy, the lettuce lush, the radishes ready to pull. Pots of dahlias are everywhere, some lined up and ready to go in the ground.
I see that my flats of zinnia and cosmos seedlings came through the cold night without distress. My onions are perky. I will need to water later. I stare at the five beds that still need prepping and long for the time to do that.
I hear my name from down on the deck. Farmer is looking my way, too. They both are telling me what I already know but want to ignore: it is time to come inside, get ready for work. Leave the garden to itself for the day. Sigh. I don’t want to leave, but I know the garden will welcome me back just as soon as I can get here. And I am grateful for that.
- the state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled.
LOOKING FOR RECIPES?