Writings about

the many life lessons

unearthed when we dig

in the dirt . . . and pursue

a range of other interests

in the constantly evolving

garden of life.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Surprises spring from the cold, cold ground

When I hired the Bobcat man to rip out foundation plants back in June, I could not have known how many unseen plants previous owners had left behind; bulbs don't talk. At least not until this time of year.

Even in this cold, cold spring, bulbs burst through soil, twisting and shouting, happy, oblivious. It might as well be warm.

Likes and dislikes separate gardeners everywhere; plants one person grows are never guaranteed to please the next steward of a garden. Last May, I left my acre of gardens in East Haddam, Connecticut, after 12 years of building the spaces. I knew some of my carefully planted, tended and loved trees, shrubs, bulbs, perennials and mosses might pass new owners' muster and some might get ripped out. Maybe the whole garden.

No matter; I had sold it all. As I had done previously in Washington, D.C., Atlanta and McCaysville, Georgia. Leaving those gardens meant leaving my emotional investment in them – while at the same time holding on to the memories. I've never gone back to a garden I've built and left. At least, not physically.

I thought of all this as I discovered what the previous owners had planted and left here in Marietta, Georgia. First came crocus, near the driveway, with slivered leaves, blooms purple or gold, some buried up to their heads in oak leaves and pine straw.

Crocus, leading parade of early spring flowers.


Daffodils came next, popping up in the front garden, first on the sunnier side, then later on the side less sunny. Like crocus, daffodils came not in great swaths, but in random little patches of two, three, two, four, the way nature might distribute them.



Pale lemony-to-white, these trumpeters of spring put on happy faces while all about them may be dreary, unpromising.

Knowing these flowers would bring at least as much cheer to the indoors as they do whenever I walk past them outside, I cut a few and placed them in single flower displays, for the eye as well as
for the nose. This one, in a stone kenzan, sits on a round black leather ottoman in the media center.


 

As the weather moves slowly, steadily toward feeling like spring, warmth that cannot be denied pulls up more remnants of owners past. On the side of the house, near the door to my writing room, several white-blooming pieris seemingly suddenly burst into white necklaces.


Seeing them bloom made me glad I had the good sense to let the shrubs be. And seeing more leaves pushing up around them made me doubly glad. Tulips? What kind? What color? Not tulips?

They're a mystery. And like the daffodils, they are a surprise. And a thing of beauty.


26 comments:

  1. How fun to discover new plants each day in your new garden! I remember that feeling when we first moved here. And it took me a couple of years to really get to know where all the emerging plants would be from year to year. Enjoy the show!

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    1. Thank you. The discoveries do amount to a bonus, an unexpected one.

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  2. pleasant surprises.....your lon awaited spring has come!!

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    1. It can't be stopped, I'm convinced.

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  3. Buried treasures are such fun! Looks like you found a treasure chest full of gold, Lee. Happy spring! :-)

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    1. This is the time of year for surprises aplenty, isn't it Beth. Here's to a happy spring back on you. Cheers!

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  4. Lee, I don't know of anyone who deserves those hidden treasures as much as you.
    That lil yellow crocus is shining for joy. It is probably thinking that something wonderful is going on around here.


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    1. Well, thank you, Rose Lady. I'm continually trying to make the crocus's thoughts come true.

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  5. The daffodil in the kenzan looks like it standing upright by force of will!

    We all needed perseverance to endure this winter.

    Now you can enjoy the fruits of spring.

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    1. Aaron, it *does* look that way. And after it had been standing longer than I thought it would before collapsing. Similarly, we battered gardeners are still upright, celebrating survival and revival.

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  6. I think it is such fun to find something blooming in the garden that you don't expect. Lucky you finding these cheery harbingers of spring. Doesn't it make you wonder what else will pop up? Sometimes I even surprise myself. Like this spring I found a clump of pale yellow crocus in a bed. I don't remember planting them. Hmmmm makes me wonder if the garden fairies were at work. More likely my poor memory failed me again. Which ever I was happy to find them.

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    1. Lisa, I certainly do wonder about other surprises. I too have surprised myself. Your self-surprise of a whole bed of crocus makes it unlikely that the birds brought in the seeds, so my money's on the fairies. Or you, when you had a huge burst of planting energy that faded out of memory.

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  7. Hey, Lee,

    Happy you found a few surprises in your garden. The crocus and daffodils are wonderful after a lonnnng Winter. As beautiful and welcome as the Peris is I think it can't 'hold a candle' to the gorgeous 'Dorothy Feywyck' in your Connecticut garden.

    It was a brutal Winter for gardenia, I hope yours still lives.

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    1. Hey, Barbara,

      Yes, indeed I left a good pieris for the new owners and got bulbs I didn't expect. And so it goes – round and round. Amazing, my gardenias did not skip a beat. I hope yours survived the harsh Alabama winter.

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    2. Hey, Lee,

      Thank you for the good wishes. Sadly, many plants that have thrived in my garden for many years did not survive six degrees this go round. Especially my 'Frost Proof' gardenia that was supposed to withstand the low temperatures and my Confederate Jasmine that had climbed a 75 foot tall oak tree.

      This little 'frost pocket' was indeed a deep freeze this Winter. You should see 'Fudingzhu'. So burned and damaged. Bet your Connecticut Winters treated your Fudingzhu better than that.

      Like all gardeners say, "It'll be better next year!"

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    3. Hey, Barbara, I knew my Marietta, Georgia, was warmer than your Gadsden, Alabama, but your damage does surprise.

      On the 'Fudingzhu' osmanthus, I cannot tell a lie; In Connecticut I grew it in a pot and kept it out of those New England winters. Here, I did leave one outside in a pot this past winter. And another one grows in the ground.

      While I suspect yours will recover, you might be ready to pot it up and make it an indoor-outdoor tea olive if you have room inside. I love the fragrance during winter. Summer too. Here's to next year.

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  8. Your daffodils are a cheery sight, and the one you brought indoors was particularly lovely. What a nice gift from the former owner. I love the pieris! Mine are not blooming yet.

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    1. They may be common, but they are indeed cheerfully beautiful, aren't they. In some ways you Alabamans (I was born one) had a harsher winter than we had over here in Georgia. (See above comment from Barbara, who lives up in Gadsden.) On the good side, you still a pieris treat in store.

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  9. The emotional investment is the big deal for me as I debate the pros and cons of a move after 17 years. Wondering if the next owner would save the house or the gardens at all.... None of my business by then, but I dwell on it now. I wouldn't be able to take a thing....except fond memories.

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    1. Well, I certainly understand the emotional price one pays when leaving a long-loved garden. Your 17 years would be half a decade longer than my tenure in Connecticut.

      Intellectually, you know all the right thoughts to think, but as you know, it's the heart you have to deal with more than the head.

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  10. I suppose you will have almost a whole year with Christmas presents in the garden almost every week, whilst discovering what the garden is hiding under the soil – how exciting! I hope there are many more treasures to find. When I came here 12 years ago my garden was almost a blank canvas after I had cleared the jungle of bramble and overgrown shrubs, not more than a few plants to save – the huge camellia was one. No one had taken care of the garden for possibly more than 10 years so I started basically from scratch, with a camellia and a very tall conifer. I hope I won’t have to leave here for a good few years yet, as long as I can manage the stairs I am staying here :-)

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    1. You and i share a preference for a blank canvas, with the caveat of keeping the big jewels and welcoming the good surprises. As for stairs, this is the first stairless house we've owned in many years. That choice becomes more appealing with age and condition, doesn't it.

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  11. They look like tulips but if they only put up one or two leaves, they are past their prime. But it is exciting to see what surprises await you as the ground warms up.

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    1. Thanks, if they're out of business, I'll just see them as foliage plants. And enjoy the next surprise.

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  12. What a delight to discover all these surprises! Your reminiscences about your past gardens makes me think of a friend we helped this past week. She's a Master Gardener and has been a mentor to so many in our local group, including me. But due to ailing health, she is moving into a retirement home and leaving her beautiful garden behind. I know she's sad about leaving her garden most of all; I only hope the new owners appreciate the beautiful legacy she has left for them.

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  13. Your hope recalls mine and many others' as we leave gardens to an unknown fate. I hope your friend can at least have *something* growing in the retirement home – plants in pots that she can tend without difficulty.

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