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Gardeners Grabbed by Life-Altering Event

Hepatica nobilis Blue Blooms

Let’s Talk Gardening

 

It happens every spring.

It happens to me every spring. I sometimes think I live within a ritual. Every late winter and early spring I begin to pace the garden and look for the first signs of my garden awakening. It is as if my pacing will somehow hurry the awakening along. Or, perhaps it is my own awakening, my removing a sense of semi-hibernation. Whatever the name, I would not feel normal if I did not find myself out there walking the hillside.

 

Have a Seat

Occasionally there is a day, or simply an afternoon, warm enough to allow me to sit on the big stone in the center of my garden. That stone is large enough to be an anchor. I can sit upon it and feel the dreary and drab drain downward in a subtle flow. I find myself felling as though I am connected to my garden and to the earth. The noise in my head gets turned down and I can hear nature around me. There is a quiet that surrounds so I can hear birds in the tree above me, squirrels scampering from limb to limb, the beat of my heart in my ears. No matter how gray the sky, I can feel a light, a warmth, within.

 

Timing

After over thirty years of gardening on the same hillside I like to think I have it all down to memory when that first green nose will appear, the first bloom and what plant it will be. However, each year, while there is variation, I do know where and when to begin looking. Perhaps I will be a few days early, but I still get my walk, show or no show.

 

Surprises

Erythronium americana and Mertensia virginica meet in the garden

I find myself being surprised and pleased when my treasure hunt for green turns rewarding. One would think how can I be surprised when I know where and what to expect, but like Pavlov’s puppy dog, I react to the stimulus. How can no one not be pleased, happy, surprised, when moving the brown and black of last year’s leaves and seeing bright green promises of

what is to come. It is like receiving an invitation to a garden party.

I know where every clump of Snowdrops resides. I can count upon moving a few leaves and finding multiple noses of green. Soon, no matter the weather, they push the mulch aside beginning to keep their promise. Galanthus are always the first to deliver open blooms in my garden. Bright green blades with nodding drops of milk white, green tipped, move with the still cold winter wind. Surely their movement is the baton of a symphony director beginning a newly written piece for this coming spring.

 

Naming Names

False Rue Anemone

With the opening of first Galanthus there is a single Hellebore that is always the first to open, displaying a clean yellow, a caution light for the remainder of the hellebore drifts throughout the garden. Not to be outdone Adonis amurensis pushes up feather-like foliage with blooms of waxy-yellow giving a hint as to where last year’s sunshine was stored. From then on it is a rush to begin the new year in my garden.

Trillium nivale, the Dwarf Snow Trillium, opens its three white petals over blue-green leaves, none of which is taller than four inches. The trillium is a signal for other native plants to begin. Bloodroot pushes up a curled felt-green heavily veined leaf, bloom stem within the cocoon. As the leaf unfurls it releases the bloom to open into a dish of pure white petals with a yellow center. Ants have carried seed around over the years and now there are drifts of this native all through the garden. If bloodroot is open then it is time for Spring Beauties to open for they have been waiting in the wings, tiny bronze blades above the leaf litter. The very small blooms are usually a shiny pale pink with much darker veins, but I am lucky enough to have some blooming in yellow with pink markings. They are not only in many locations in the garden, they have taken a liking to the hillside paths.

 

Some years ago there was and American Hepatica Society and I was fortunate enough to belong while it was in existence. One of the benefits was a seed exchange and I received quite a few, some of which I was successful in growing to maturity. After all these years they still bring me pleasure by sending their seed about in the garden. The tiny Japanese species reach about three inches in height, carrying a multitude of small white blooms. Some of the seedlings from open crosses are in more open positions and have awakened in shades of lavender and white. The native species have yet to show their colors.

 

Walking in the opposite direction to exit the garden I see I missed as drift of False Rue Anemone (Isopyrum biternatum) in snow white with glistening drops of rain on the petals. Toothwort (Dentaria lanciniata) was somehow overlooked as I walked by.

 

It seems every time I walk the paths in the garden I see a new garden. There were Iris reticulata joined by early Daffodils. Anemone x Pallida in clear lemon yellow is the first of the European anemones to bloom. Both species and cultivars of Corydalis have begun opening. I am sure if I took another walk there would be another new garden.

What brings the garden walk to completion is the opportunity to share it with you.

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