I have mixed feelings about spring, even this year as we emerge from a La Nina winter. We had two bouts of snow here, one in November and another in February. There was a lot of wind and rain in the first part of March, so it’s good to see longer days (a few of them sunny) and temperatures of more than 10 degrees C. (50 F).
But I still find spring to be a challenge. For several months the garden has been quiescent, with last year’s memories preserved in pictures and vague intentions for the future. But with the coming of spring, it wakes up and makes demands. Or, to be accurate, plants in the garden emerge from dormancy and begin to grow. Seeing this, the gardener begins to make lists of Things To Do: prune roses and hollies, cut down old Epimedium foliage, edge all beds, seed tomatoes (indoors, of course), dig vegetable patch, and (as Henry Mitchell would say), zub zub zub.
In spring, the garden stops being theoretical and becomes actual.
Things that haven’t worked out can no longer be ignored. Six potted Meconopsis have sprouted out. The seventh has not, so must be dead, a possibility confirmed by judicious prodding around the crown of the plant. The hebes, which actually had a few blooms in January,now look dead, no doubt as a result of the snow and cold in February. A large portion of the front garden is a mess — full of unwanted grass and renegade Campanulas. It adjoins the Bad Neighborhood and is starting to resemble it. Something must be done, and soon.
That’s the thing — certain garden tasks are best done now rather than later (which so often translates to “never”). If the invading grasses are ignored, they will gain a few more yards and the weeding job will only get bigger. The soil will dry out, making it harder to extract the weeds, and the job will end up being done in warm weather instead of these cool, damp days which facilitate weeding. Or so I tell myself on the way to the shed to get the hand fork and dandelion tool.
Spring is like getting up after a long night’s sleep. You are rested and want to get going, but it’s still an effort to flap back the blankets, put your feet on the floor and head for the bathroom. It’s so easy to go back to sleep for another hour and dream about roses in bloom and a mist of blue poppies in summer shade. Those things won’t happen unless you, the gardener, overcomes inertia and participates in their making. So get out of that chair, put those boots on, get out and dig!