By Dave Coulter
This odd little spring we’ve all been observing is now about three weeks old. I haven’t been keeping precise records but it feels like in that time span we’ve experienced summer, a small taste of winter, settling back into proper April temperatures. Well, the temps feel normal but it sure has been dry. On Saturday it looked like it could rain a bit, but on Easter Sunday the sun rose and shone as cheerfully as one could want.
We took advantage of the sunshine and the dry conditions to continue with our labors in the garden. After being somewhat cooped up during the obligatory Easter festivities the sight of old leaves and unpulled weeds was quite tempting. Futhermore it seems that - so far - only E and I enjoy the garden work. The youngsters do pitch in sometimes, but even on a lovely spring day they often find other pursuits - which suits us. Digging and weeding gives us time to talk in relative peace.
Two corners of E’s domain were the focus of our Easter efforts. One was in shade, the other in full sun. In the shady corner there were leftover leaves to be raked and a spontaneous compost pile (read: twigs) that needed to be disposed of. There were also numerous buckthorn, maple and hackberry seedlings that had volunteered in and needed to be yanked. A few hostas poked through alongside a bright blue flowered Brunnera - which was the last of three originals. Some of these shade plants have disappeared and the bed will need to be reworked.
The Newport Plum at the end of the bed needed some light pruning of slender dead branches. It too was in flower, and couple of small twigs wound up in a water glass on the kitchen table. A hydrangea was groomed back to live growth, and with that the shade corner was left in peace for now.
The sun corner was an entirely different struggle. An old tea rose that had long since returned to wild suckers from below the graft needed to be grubbed out. That took some doing, as did the rejuvenation pruning of the two small spireas that were looking thin and rangy. Bits of an old broken wooden trellis were salvaged from behind the newly extracted rose and will find new life as tomato or bean stakes a few weeks hence.
Work in the sun garden was more of a battle, and after the digging and pruning we paused to consider what we might plant to fill in the newly exposed bed areas. Meanwhile, two dogs and one child passed by, considered our work, and moved on to more relaxing options. When we got to the creeping phlox - blooming in lavender - we threw in the trowel.
Our work done, we paused to watch a pair of chickadees hopping between a bird feeder and the lower branches of a Silver Maple. There are a couple of birdhouses nailed to the maple, and E was pretty sure she saw one of the chicks fly into the house. They nested in one of the houses two summers ago, and they bring a lot of cheer to the yard. We’re hoping they return and we hope the various gardens under their wing are up to their standards.