Spring always finds a way to steal its way into my heart. I await it like a lover pacing the floor before their beloved arrives.
Though there is nice landscaping out front of our new house including some crape myrtles and a lot of holly, and a few bushes and a couple of small firs in the back, a lot of our yard is an empty slate and moving in December put off any gardening. Digging in the dirt is therapeutic for me…I crave it. So, metaphorically I was tapping my toe to get started.
In the unusually warm beginning to February, the abundant weeds in our 1/2 acre, but neglected, back yard began to spout. I said prayers for it to stay warm enough to weed, and managed to clear the sunniest of the back “beds” around some of the bushes…and spring began its siren song.
A visit to Home Depot took me past pots of pansies and boxes of bulbs…and peonies, one of my mother’s favorite flowers. I tried to resist…but surely pansies were ok… they are tough. I know they are supposed to be planted before December, but just a few good roots and they grow and spread, even blooming through the winter…and it was almost March….
Oh, if only I were as strong as my pansies, but those bags of peony roots kept calling me…and I went back to Home Depot and the next love affair began….they had sprouting emerald emerging daffodils shouting spring at me, and unfolding grape hyacinth and the bluest of anemones singing of summer. Ah…the song of the siren.
Yes, daffodils are supposed to be planted in fall. But they were there like a promise of spring, pushing to grow and bring life to both my front and back yards. And peonies…lovely peonies. Surely they would stay in their dirt beds until the “risk of frost being past before planting” wouldn’t matter. Into the cart and into their sunny new beds. I know, I know…but when you hear music, sometimes you have to dance, don’t you? Within days, it seemed, my daffodils bloomed and nodded to the music.
Finally, lastly, when I went to get birdseed, some herbs seduced me. I knew it was crazy, even in NC there is no planting herbs in winter! But the groundhog certainly could be wrong, couldn’t he? My peonies thought so and began to sprout! I kept the herbs in their pots though my mental impatience progressed to fast paced tap dancing!
Making things worse, the last week of February I went to Edenton for a concert. It was a dose of spring to see the Japanese magnolia I had planted in our backyard fully in bloom, graceful limbs with delicately spaced blooms of waxy pink tinged cream peaking from the center of magenta outer petals like a promise against a Carolina sky. My daffodils and forsythia enticed me further in cheerful yellow from the landscape that took me nine years to create, the swords of iris Kelly green, pointing to the blooms to come. They have been my harbingers of spring for years.
So………at least Oregano and Basil (oh, fresh Basil) had to be planted. But exercising restraint, I put them in a large moveable planter.
My better instincts prevailed to keep the thyme and lavender, parsley, and mint with the Anemone on a moveable tray on my garden bench…my toes moving into a vigorous Irish jig!
So, of course, the urge to dance into spring was irresistible, but if I just had stuck with my pansies….ahh…this maligned but study flower: Despite the false use of their name employed by my childhood friends in taunting the weak or wimpy, they are Don Quixote, the knights-errant of the winter, stronger than they appear.
Here in North Carolina they bloom even covered with snow. By March, Raleigh is filled with beds of them everywhere which last till the summer sun dispatches them…a mirror to their finitude.
So, having none in my new yard, I had to plant the pansies surely….and the peonies and daffodils …didn’t I?
But of course, I had tempted fate, dreamed an impossible dream because… winter storm Stella happened. Can’t you hear Marlon Brando screaming in protest outside a window, “Stella!” Winter was having a laugh at me. My desire was about to crash into a storm, a weather bomb of dropping pressure. Bombogenesis, the weatherman called it.
Loved this word but urgent warnings on my weather app of snow, sent me scurrying. Tray of herbs and planter moved inside, I warmed towels in my dryer to cover the peonies’ sprouts and the daffodils’ fragile blooms. I didn’t cover my hardy, brave pansies….that would have taken all the towels I had! Then, we had to wait to see how cruel an Inquisitor Stella would be to my fledgling flowers…and my pansy knights.
We made it through the snow, which is insulating – but then fiercely dropping temperature hit. This morning it was only 27 when I got up and still below freezing until almost 11 o’clock. Looking out my window at 7 am, I could see my pansies yellow and orange bright as the sun which had not yet warmed them, boldly purple in the morning light and pure white as the snow they had survived.
By eleven, it was time to face the music. Had my more tender lovers, planted in the rashness of crazed love, survived the freeze in their towel wraps? And….when I pulled the towels from them, the daffodils bobbed their heads at me, and the tender buds of peony sprang up to greet the spring. Ah…the rewards of true love!
So typical of me, though I have several more days of warming and wrapping towels around my peonies and daffodils…I just had to write something to praise the shining knights of my spring garden…didn’t I? So in their honor a bit of doggerel:
You nod, my bold pansy, greeting morning with cheer, Ever the optimist, you never show fear,
Blooming even in winter, when the sun peeks through. Sharing every shade of purple, even Carolina blue,
So pensive, my “pensee,” hiding amorous intent, You invite me to consider what is really meant
When in the heart of sable blossoms, hopeful yellow peeks, And within innocent white flowers, purple passionately speaks.
Delicate, yet stronger than intemperate fickle Spring, You brave the storm to promise together we will sing
A paean to enduring love, a poem to devotion, And keep me long remembering true azure emotion.