Broken Promises of Spring

One of the things I miss most about my Mom is talking to her about our yards. Every January through April, our weekly phone calls tended to discussions of what we planned to grow that year, what perennials and bulbs were poking their noses out of the matted remnants of last years leaves, and which seed catalogs arrived that week. I gave her seeds and garden gift certificates for her birthday in January, and rose bushes for Mother’s Day.

My yard in Utah is mostly a grove of scrub oak. At one point I hired a landscape designer who came up with the most gorgeous arrangements of spiral paths and rock walls, all at a cost that staggered my almost limitless imagination. In previous homes Mr. GG and I had created rock walls all over the place. And my beloved gave me stuff like dump trucks full of topsoil, and mulch, and Mother’s Day trips to the nearest nursery, where I could fill wagons with any little plant I craved. When I see those commercials on TV where the guy gives the woman diamonds to show her how much he cares, I laugh. Diamonds are easy and trite. Ten cubic yards of mulch is the way to my heart. That man knows me so well. (Of course the fact that he has also showered me with moonstones set in silver does not hurt. Especially since he found them on Moonstone Mountain in Idaho, and cut and polished them himself, and set them into designs he came up with just for me. I am a lucky woman).

Anyway, back on topic. The landscape blueprints were a dream, and we never planned to live in this house long enough to invest that kind of money here. Instead we yanked out the junipers in front of the house, and after a couple of years of trying stereotypical English borders, I broke down and planted vegies amid the flowers. This is very trendy, and if done well, would have been quite interesting. Unfortunately, I went in without much of a plan (my general operating instructions in life lean towards the spontaneous). That bed is pitiful, just pitiful. Even though I used some really cool wicker trellises and an upside down tomato planter, without any structure, it was just a blob of green.

But some sort of yearning bugged me all winter. I have been toying with making a night garden and a fragrance garden in patio containers for a couple of years. Mostly that meant I planted a lot of heliotrope and Brugmansia, and bought stock and nicotiana and tried growing sweet peas and moonflowers. And potted up some night blooming jasmine, and bedded sweet alyssum everywhere. There is some sort of unidentified viburnam in the yard that perfumes the air for about 10 days every spring, and a scraggly mock orange that scents things a little later on in the season. I planted lilacs, but they are struggling.

This year I am planning. I invested in a 3 tier grow light contraption, and purchased seeds of stuff I’ve been dreaming of for years. Night blooming stock, zaluskyana – night blooming phlox, mignonette, lemon colored four o’clocks, and jasmine tobacco. I have three kinds of heliotrope on order from various nurseries. I am trying to find a source for sweet ciceley, a plant I adored and shudder to start from seeds. I believe it involves scarifying and 3 months in the fridge to germinate. There is a nursery in Idaho which carried it… maybe I’m due for a road trip this spring.

Anyway, this week I am in the grip of garden planning. I went a little crazy and ordered a couple of sweet olive plants, some horsetail, and some more seeds. I got some perennial cyclamens in bloom at the nursery. Then I got on eBay and bought an ungodly amount of bare root wildflowers to plunk into my “naturalized area” in the back yard. The stack of books on my bedside table is all gardening related, with sticky notes bristling from the pages. I am contemplating building a database to hold all the germinating and care instructions for new plants. Things are moving right along, and then this morning I wake up and find that it is snowing. A lot. It’s a good thing I am so spontaneous.

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