Sunday, March 18, 2012

The growing of the green*

My garden lies in deep, deep shade; at the height of summer the outer edges get sunshine for a couple of hours a day. In the winter, nothing. What sunlight does appear is reflected dimly off the tops of the tall cedars on the far side of the lawn. So as spring approaches, I watch as the sunlit area moves down and down, a few inches of cedar branches per day. When it reaches the lawn, I celebrate; suddenly the days seem brighter, the yard seems wider.

Friday, around 6:30 in the afternoon, a stray ray of sunlight fell along a strip of grass at the base of the evergreens. It stayed only a few minutes, but it's a start. So yesterday, we were out arranging hoses, checking on garden tools, cleaning up fallen leaves, checking the compost, making shopping lists: manure - chicken, mushroom and steer , slug bait, a few more plants for Laurie's newly-cleared (and mostly sunny!) patch, maybe some more hostas for my shady corner.) Gardening fever is upon us again.

In spite of the weather and the lack of sunlight, I have flowers; hellebore in full bloom, pachysandra, heather. And the new stalks of Dutchman's breeches are six inches tall, bright yellow-green and strong.

Western Bleeding Heart, leafing out. Near the roots, there's a mass of flower buds.

Hellebore in a bare garden.

This one lives in a pot in an even darker corner, so the sepals are green-tipped. Those tiny green things around the center are the petals.

Around the corner, in Laurie's new garden, the sun has been shining (when it isn't raining) for well over a week. There, he has well-established Oregon grape, rescued from under a tangled mass of long-abandoned cotoneaster last summer; it's loaded with buds already. The perennials we planted last year are looking good; pachysandra, various small evergreens, camellias, ferns, mint, a rosebush, and more. Everything is budding and stretching.

Last fall we bought these winter pansies. Half went in my shady spot, half in Laurie's semi-shaded area. Mine died under the onslaught of snow and rain; his are thriving.

Some animal broke a stalk off the white hellebore, months ago. Laurie stuck it in water at the base of an empty pot for protection. And now, it's blooming!

And wonder of wonders; the Swiss chard in the 6 by 8 foot vegetable garden, cut down in December, is sprouting new leaves!

Ah, the season of dirt and rakes, slug wars and vanquished roots, seedlings and fish fertilizer! Aching back and all, I love it!

*Title: the Irish in me coming out.

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