When the garden first begins to return in March, I might find something new to get excited about once per week: a snowdrop, a sprout emerging from the cold earth. Now, dozens of new things happen every day. I can sit outside and admire the garden for hours.
Today I wandered around with my camera, then looked back at photos from when I mulched on my gardening vacation in March. It’s so different now, and it’s only May!
8-10 dill (host plant for swallowtails, plus herb for us)
4 orange milkweed (host plant for monarchs)
A big patch of zinnia seeds (nectar)
Red salvia annuals (nectar)
Parsley (host plant for swallowtails, plus herb for us)
Cilantro (herb for us)
Jalapeño (pepper for us)
Basil (herb for us)
It doesn’t look like much for now, which is why I wanted to photograph it, as a before picture. The wire cages are to keep the rabbits away from the milkweed seedlings. The’ve eaten fresh milkweed in the past, and I don’t want them eating these seeds I’ve carefully cultivated for 10 weeks.
The oak tree suddenly has leaves, and the salvia are blooming. The blossoms of tulips, dogwoods, and redbud begin to fade, but the yarrow, dwarf lilac, roses, rue, and scabiosa all have flower buds. The orlaya came back and its buds are opening, too. I see the beginnings of flower buds on a few echinacea, and a nepetas’ blue blossoms sprinkle the air above their silvery green leaves.
I put in a passionflower today, along with 3 blanket flowers and 2 scarlet and orange milkweeds. I’ve got my fingers crossed for the passionflower. I hope it will last.
I saw motion outside my office window this morning, and when I walked over to look out, I saw bunnies dart every which way across the grass, chase each other up the flower bed hill, across the gravel right outside my floor level window, through the fence slats to the neighbor’s yard, and back down the grassy hill again. There were four or five of them, and they chased each other for at least an hour. I used my phone to take photos through my office window. I apparently also took this 1 second video, which was a total accident when I touched the wrong button on my phone, but the rabbits were so active, I happened to capture one on video during my fumble.
The grass is the lush, vibrant green that only appears in spring. Pears and cherries and magnolias bloom all over town. Tulips pop in bright colors in the landscaping of public places: medians, libraries, the aquatic center.
In our garden, the redbud is covered in fuchsia buds and the dogwood flowers bloom green before they brighten to white. The leaves of perennials begin to emerge from beneath the fresh mulch. The blades of ornamental grasses come in tender and emerald green. The forsythia and daffodils are done in our garden — I cut back the forsythia this weekend — but violets and periwinkles blossom at the top of the hill. The salvia forms buds that should open in a few weeks. Besides the trees, the primary flowers right now are the ones in our flower baskets; that will change soon though.
I’m still not great with my new camera. At least it’s warm outside now so that my hands don’t freeze while I fumble with the settings. I finally ordered the lens I’ve been saving for; it should arrive this week. I am eager for a fixed focal length and to be able to open the aperture as much as I want to. I worried I wouldn’t get the lens in time for spring flowers, but I think it will be just in time for the tulips, redbud, dogwoods, lilac, and everything else that follows.
Each spring, I take a week off of work to tend to the garden. Mostly this means spreading mulch over all the beds I killed grass for so I can grow butterfly-friendly plants. I’ve lucked out with weather each year, including this one. My vacation began on the spring equinox, and I had five days of sunshine and warm enough temperatures to work in short sleeves.
In previous years, I ordered 12 cubic yards of mulch to be delivered on the first day of my vacation. This year, thanks to the new bed I carved out in winter, I ordered 14 yards.
And it wasn’t enough. I called my mulch guy mid-week, and luckily he was able to deliver two more yards for me while I still had time to spread it. I finished on Friday, just before the rains of the weekend. Now, I’m back to work today, but…
Temperatures are in the 60s this week and the sun is finally out. I walk every day to see what flowers are in bloom. So far, I only see crocuses and snowdrops. Daffodil buds are fat, though, and they’ll open any day now. I bought a small flat to plant in our garden because the only early spring bulbs I have are the ones our mail carrier gave me — a crocus and a snowdrop.
I think by next week the daffodils will dot gardens with happy yellow, and maybe the forsythia will pop as well.