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Saturday, March 01, 2008


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The garden calls! The sun is shining, bright gold from a blue, blue sky. It looks like we skipped spring altogether and went from bitter winter to a pleasant but increasingly warm summer (unusual; our summers tend to be cool).

Nevertheless, yesterday, the plum tree was clothed in a blanket of tiny ice-pink flowers, which revelled in the delicate hue of a cloud-filtered twilight sun, shining out against the greenish gray boughs that bore them aloft with only the slightest hint here and there of a bursting leaf-bud of deepest crimson. The birds were down eating chickweed seeds, a rare sight in the early spring garden, but perhaps it's really not spring after all.

We surprised a fawn nibbling on the Cecile Brunner climbing rose at the top of the hill, and discovered there a tiny tree with dark bronze leaves adorning a starbust of slender branches, each graced by multiple starry white flowers, tender amid the quarrelsome bright green of the sprouting rose leaves.

The wisteria's fat buds are many, promising a fragrant doorway soon. Blessing the front of the house with pale purple ropes of blossom, drowning us in its heady scent. We pruned the basil, for the bees, but must cut it back further. The tiny pink throats of basil are powerfully fragrant. There is hope for an early blooming of the honeysuckle.

Down the hill, the Santa Cruz hibiscus is heavy with rich purple buds and blossoms; echium fastuosum is lifting purple spikes of budhead to the sky; and the native lilac, deadly pollen shaking out over everything, is already loud with murmuring bees, native, honey, and bumble. Lavender made itself a new volunteer, so now two bushes please our bees, and so richly flowery, we are ashamed to admit we never water nor care for them. A pineapple sage survived the frosts and animal depredations. Crinkled hairy leaves the light green of new rice sprouts; we look forward to the carmine throaty flowers, though the hummingbirds ignore them for the (surely tasteless!) fuschia and scarlet bracts of bougainvillea, still dormant. The buddleia, five colors! is preparing to bud. We must trim it forthwith.

Passionflower vine, reseeding aggressively, is rampant here and there, and the first violet-scented irises, the deepest purple, are waiting to delight both eye and nose. And the heuchera is blooming near the lenten rose, tiny coral bells on tall stalks. And the native bulbs have put out beautiful flowers, the calochortus with its vivid blue stamens, fairy tulip, globe tulip, what pretty things they are!

The native poppies have reseeded, but aren't ready yet to flower; still, we have the old mainstays, Shasta daisies in great spreading clumbs, snowy blossomed; tiny white-and-pink-rayed fleabane with golden hearts; nigella damascena in every shade from palest white through deepest bluish violet; Tibouchinea (Brazilian princessflower) survived its cruel neglect at our hands and is laden with fat, purple buds, the hairy pale leaves edged with crimson; yellow through orange, the golden heads of calendula nod; tiny honey-scented stars of alyssum await our pleasure, and Gloriosa daisies, miraculously, abound.

Irresistible is our garden in the springtime of its splendor. It calls. We go.

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At 12:09 PM, Blogger Christy said...

such poetry, politcalcat, such loveliness. i'm reminded of the sun- and breeze- and bee-drenched language of l.m. montgomery.

At 3:47 PM, Blogger ThePoliticalCat said...

You are too kind, Christy! Thank you.

At 8:42 PM, Blogger Sungold said...

This left me wanting to see "the quarrelsome bright green of the sprouting rose leaves" in your garden. Our roses are still sleeping deeply, but we spotted our first crocus today, and the kids delighted in the crocus blossom that opened - for them! or so they thought - as the afternoon grew older. We're also starting to see the very first catkins on our pussy willow.

More practically: Is buddleia very fussy about how and when it gets pruned? The last couple of years, I've whacked it more or less down to the ground, leaving maybe 12", whenever the thought occurred to me in early-ish spring. It seems to be thriving despite my ignorance, but I'm really not very smart about pruning, so any advice is appreciated.

Oh, and I'm desperately envious that your garden season is beginning. I'm looking forward to more writing like this, which will have to be my consolation.

At 7:48 AM, Blogger ThePoliticalCat said...

Buddleia: likes being pruned hard, but pruning depends on the form you want it to take. If you want a small tree, let a main trunk develop and then cut out all the side wood and trim to shape. If you want a bush, cut it all the way back to what you're doint, and it should reward you with fountain-like growth. I have both bush and tree on the hill, due mainly to the limitations of foot-purchase on the sharp slopes of my hill.

They're very forgiving, buddleia. And happy to volunteer.

You're too kind, really. I blush.

At 8:47 AM, Blogger Sungold said...

Thanks! We've been getting the fountain effect. I guess I'm doing something right without knowing how or why. Hmmm ... that could describe my *life* as well as my garden.


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