“Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”
-Mary Oliver, from her poem: Sometimes-
At this time of year, I can’t wait for the snow to melt and to witness the explosion of plant life that will follow. It starts with the greening of the fields and lawns, then the beautiful chartreuse color of those first leaves on the aspens as they emerge. In the garden, the hellebores and the magnolia bush usually flower before the daffodils and tulips and by then we’re off! The trees are all dressed up for summer and the fields glow their yellow and pink hues from all the wildflowers. The gardens become lush in color and in scent. All of my favorite flowers seem to be the ones that smell the nicest—hyacinths, lilac, peonies and the wild roses.
Bugs and Birds
I like to think that the plants are creating a big party and that the insects and birds are invited to the celebration. It’s a good thing, they need those pollinators! We have a few hives of honeybees on our farm and they are often in the flowers as I work in the garden. I am not at all careful, they are in the flowers near my face as I swish them around, pulling out weeds. They never sting me! Honeybees are very gentle and accommodating, so are bumblebees. I wish I could say the same for wasps. Butterflies feel like a gift when they come to visit, I need to stop what I’m doing and just watch them. Is anything more peaceful than that? And even though hummingbirds abound where I live, they always get my attention, whether they be feeding, buzzing by or watching a male fly in a U-shape pattern as a mating ritual. In late summer, we’ll sometimes see hummingbird moths, usually in the phlox. Here are some I caught on video:
In March, we clear out the birdhouses my husband made to attract the Eastern Bluebirds. Starting at the end of March, we keep an eye out for them, trying to predict the date that they’ll arrive. (We also try to predict the first night we’ll hear the peepers, I so love their call!) Each year without fail, we get one bluebird couple even though we have six birdhouses. I guess they don’t share their territory very well with others of their own species. No worries, though, the other five are always occupied by Tree Swallows. Both species of birds eat a lot of insects so they are faithful garden allies.
We Love Our Plants
I know that I’m really lucky to live on so much land, to be surrounded by nature and by gardens. My husband grows all sorts of plants in his gardens and we get a year-round supply of organic veggies. When it’s gardening season, I take my morning tea with me as I tour the flower beds, looking for new blooms, deadheading old ones. When we garden, we become attached to our plants, feeling the need to inspect and care for them daily. When my daughter, Jade, lived in the city, I witnessed this same behavior. Her neighbor had vegetables and vines growing in large pots on a small, sunny porch. It was early morning and she toured and tended to her plants as she had her morning cuppa. It made me realize that if one day I downsized and had a lot less space, I could still get pleasure from the same morning ritual.
If you’re like me, I know you’re itching to get your hands into the soil and watch the plant party begin! The jubilation lasts a while, until we get fed up with the weeding! 😊 Happy spring, everybody!