Dance With Summer

Spring always brings thoughts of friends to mind, when the plants they’ve given me poke their green shoots through the soil. We’ve got Holly Hocks out by the fence from our next door neighbor. The colors are hot pink and white, and they filled us with such joy all summer long last year. We finally had to stake them up and actually whack them off at the top because they had this ‘Jack and the Bean Stalk’ mentality. I kept telling them it was time to stop growing, but they wouldn’t listen to me.

This fall Dennis planted a big clump of Bleeding Hearts from my walking buddy, and they have wintered over beautifully. The hot pink shoots coming up from the soil look hearty and healthy. I’m told they are also pink and white, and can hardly wait until they bloom.

Last fall I planted about a dozen Grape Hyacinths from this same friend, as well as seeds from the orange lilies in our front flower bed, and they all look healthy. We’ve got a lovely pink Rose bush that a friend gave to my mother. It was a couple from the church we’d attended for years, and the gentleman, Elmer, died this past winter. Very sad. I’ll have to name that rose bush Elmer, I think.

We have a beautiful pale pink Hydrangea that was loaded with flowers the first year it was planted that my mother gave me for my birthday one year. That fall I cut it back, learning the next spring when it failed to flower that it blooms on old growth stems. The next fall I did not cut it back. It looked beautiful in the early spring, until a killing frost took it out. We let it be last fall. It looks glorious now, with the promise of multiple blooms.

Our evergreen ‘Fat Albert’ Evergreen tree out in the corner of the yard by the back fence is looking really beautiful now, even though we tried (by mistake) to do it in the year we put round-up nearby, killing grass inside our new concrete garden edging. Oops again. It’s amazing the lessons we learn as we garden, like raising children, I think.

The Raspberries, Grapes and Asparagus all give hopes of another year of abundance. And the hot pink Peony under the Grape trellis has wintered over nicely. We’ll plant Tomatoes in a spot with a bit more sun this year, and hope to start a Compost bin, which I’ll really enjoy. Our Rhubarb is alive and well, and this actually came from a neighbor’s patch when Dennis and I first married, over 22 years ago … that’s a lot of rhubarb, friends!

There’s something hopeful about getting the patio furniture out from the garden shed each spring, seeing Dennis ‘re-condition’ the lawn mower, and talk of thatching the lawn. And the bird feeders are out now. Yesterday, armed with a can of red paint, I painted the small bird feeder Tate made for us some 10 years earlier. If I remember the story correctly, Phil lost a thumb nail hammering on a part of the bird feeder at a father-daughter evening at Tate’s school. The feeder was my Christmas gift that year. Each summer Dennis thinks it’s the last year for this feeder. But it’s got a lot of years left.

Yesterday I cleared away the winter kill from our Chives and Thyme, and the Oregano is of course coming back as strong as ever. Every time I look at my chives I smile, remembering the time, when Jamie was around 6 years old, that she and I looked around our small garden. I showed her what the chives were and cautioned, “This is NOT a weed. These are grandma’s Chives. Don’t ever pull them up.” I think she was helping me weed a flower bed. A few minutes later she came running in the house to tell me, “Grandma, I just saved your Chives! Dennis was going to pull them up but I told them they were your Chives, and to never pull them up.”

Some years later, when the patch had become too large and unruly, Dennis dug up half of this plant to send home with Tate to their home in the Tri-cities, and there among the tangled roots we found a gold bracelet of mine that had dropped off my arm when I was working in the garden – no idea when or where, until I realized one day that the bracelet was gone. Little did we know we’d find it some 5 or 6 years later, in the tangled roots of those Chives. I brushed it off and put it on, lovely as ever.

It’s obvious that my yard is my friend, and that it has once again survived our harsh winter. I guess it’s all been taking a very long winter’s nap. But it’s awake now and so am I, my gardening tools are by the back steps, and I’m ready to begin my dance with summer.

About beeconcise

A Southern writer living in the Pacific Northwest.
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