Spicebush and Virginia Bluebells

spicebush buds

Spicebush buds are ready to pop!

It is not spring yet. I know this because the spicebush buds are still tight little balls. Any day now they will erupt in a chartreuse blush that will spread itself liberally throughout the forests along the country roads I travel. Also, if it were spring, the flattened evergreen ferns on the east-facing inclines along the Delaware River would be attended by legions of Dutchman’s Breeches, and crinkled beige leaves would not still dangle from beech branches.

Virginia bluebellsIt’s not spring yet because the Virginia bluebells are showing their colors only to those who stoop down to their level and get intimate with them. And because there are still flattened planes of dirty snow where the sun doesn’t shine.

daffs in budEven though it is not yet spring, I am already thinking of fall. The daffodils, not yet in golden bloom, feel sparse. Come fall I will add a cluster to the space next to the liriope, now ragged and splayed on the soil, and another beside the poppies, trusting that their rambunctious growth will not engulf the bulb foliage to the point of extinction (as they almost succeeded in doing to ‘Mops’, my miniature mugo). And there is an empty spot under the Kwanzan cherry that replaced the old apple tree, so loved by the deer that sat beneath it nibbling on perennials and waiting for the next fruit to fall. There is room for yet another clump beside the Donald Wyman lilac that my love and I planted on the one-year anniversary of our moving to this house and garden that we have so sweetly shared for almost four years.

scillaWhy oh why did I not plant so-called “minor bulbs” by the hundreds under every tree three years ago? By now I would be well on my way towards sky blue drifts of chionodoxa and scilla. And I see in my mind a yellow swash of winter aconite below ‘Invincabelle Spirit’, the hydrangea that clashes so annoyingly with the barn red of my garden shed—not a color I would ever have chosen. In fact, as I picture the yellow carpet, I can see a cool gray on the rough walls of the shed. Chicory blue colored the window rims in my former, funkier, home, and it pleased me every time I looked at it. But blue would not be right here. Maybe this transformation too will happen in fall.

The foxglove foliage was beaten so badly by the harsh winter that even now, in the second week of April, it is barely visible. I hope that it will resurrect itself in time for a glorious June. I am so hoping for a glorious June.

In the drabness of pre-spring, I look from a second-story window and plan for another spring, another year. It is time to find some Virginia bluebells to fill the voids, time to move the daylilies before they get any further along, time to dig out the roots of the ‘Oso [un]Happy’ rose with the virused branches.

May we all keep looking forward, because that’s what artists do.

And this I believe: We are all artists.

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