The title says it all, really.
Spring has been a rather tedious season this year..not unlike autumn of last year…or winter, actually come to think of it. So, so, so many grey skies and rain and yo-yo-ing temperatures. And rain. It’s been the sort of spring where, here we are, already at the beginning of June and the winter coats and long underwear still haven’t been put away.
I’ve always known it on some level, but this past cycle of seasons has beaten it firmly into my brain, that I’m the sort of person who is very, very much influenced by the weather. Which is to say, if the weather lingers too long in a state of unpleasantness, then it has the ability to drag me deeper into a pit of despair. Likewise, a burst of sunshine and I’m immediately lifted into delight.
Of course it isn’t actually the weather which is making me despair, but it certainly has the ability to either amplify or improve that state.
So it was with nothing short of rapture that I greeted the first, emerging promises of the season changing. For real. What felt like the world’s longest and most hideous winter, finally (and, of course, there’s never any doubt that it will) seemed to be retreating.
One of my favourite things to do in early spring is to take myself around the garden and “check in” with all of the plant people. You know, sort of a “How are things? So wonderful to see you again! I sure did miss you!”.
As you do.
Alas, the strangeness of our winter — the rollercoaster temperatures, the multiple layers of ice — had a damaging effect on my green friends. I lost three roses — and another one is currently on life-support — and several of my wildflower starts from last year haven’t emerged (yet — I’m holding out on final pronouncements for a while..it’s been a cool, damp spring so everything is behind.) A couple of my pollinator-friendly perennials also are conspicuously absent.
But plenty more are thriving, especially some of the native shrubs I planted a couple of years ago — they’re really starting to come into their own and it just delights me to no end.
And lilacs. Oh, lovely, lovely creatures!
Even the decrepit old apple tree next to the pond is all a-froth with bloomery! It seems to go in a cycle of every-other-year…some years are bountiful, others I’m convinced it’s finally going to give up and die. I have no idea what sort it is —- perhaps Golden Delicious by the looks of the apples — we never get any apples as they seem to drop off prematurely and then the wasps move in. I would very much like to plant more fruit trees but the prospect of digging large holes is a bit beyond my physical comfort just now…my bad shoulder is not very keen on digging. I need a minion to do my bidding, I think - someone to do the heavy lifting. :)
Which reminds me* — have you read any of Elizabeth von Arnim’s garden books — Elizabeth and Her German Garden and the follow-up, The Solitary Summer? If not, I highly recommend them — assuming, like me, you can’t get enough of reading about other people’s gardens. Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life by Marta McDowell is another one that I gobbled up with great delight while I was waiting for spring to arrive. All of these came to my attention through a dear friend who is a shocking enabler in the book department. I have a couple more waiting for me in my to-be-read pile. I’m currently savouring The Stillwater Sampler by Gladys Taber — thanks to another book-enabling influence. I managed to get a secondhand copy from a lovely lady in Vermont who was selling it via the Amazon** Marketplace. It’s a difficult one to find (at a reasonable price) so I was all grabby-hands when I found it.
No sooner had I written in my letter that we’d had no swans visiting this spring, then look who showed up! S/he only stayed a couple of days….hiding out from a huge storm system that blew through, I think….but it was a balm to my heart to see.
also wrote that our ravens didn’t return this year and that remains true. It’s been a difficult thing for me, they were so much a part of my year — touchstones — that it was very disorienting to not have them. We had a couple of visits from various ravens, but none of them took up residence in the nest. Their absence also contributed to the desolation of the early part of the season….things just didn’t feel right without them. Wherever they are, I hope they’re well.
Bees, though! The apple tree is fairly seething with them, as is the patch of dead nettle that I planted in the rose garden. Honeys, bumblers….they’re all here in great numbers. I take that to be a good thing. A very good thing indeed!
And so here we are…the month of summer’s beginning.
It’s another overcast day with the threat of rain this afternoon. Happily, yesterday was dry and sunny and I was able to get out into the vegetable garden and wrest it back from the wilderness of weeds that have gloried in the excess of rain we’ve had. The soil is still too cool for me to plant out the tomatoes and basil but it may be that I have to do it anyway…before it’s time to harvest :).
Speaking of harvests, I have an abundance of rhubarb (for crumble!) and the strawberry plants are covered in happy blossoms. My radishes and lettuce are doing well, as are the peas and spinach, despite their late start. I had them in the ground in April but they only just started to sprout at the beginning of May (!). I pinched a cheeky radish the other day (just to test, you see) as I was making my daily round and despite having obviously been nibbled on by somecreature else, it was a little mouthful of peppery goodness. Ah spring, you took your time getting here, but you do bring the loveliest presents. :)
*I’m reminded because Elizabeth is perpetually aggrieved by a long string of unsatisfactory gardeners
** yes, Amazon has it’s share of evil deeds…but I find the Marketplace to be a great resource for used, out-of-print books. We simply don’t have the options here, in Canada, for such things so I make no apologies. I’m still supporting an independent seller by purchasing books through there, even if Amazon is taking their cut.