Spring. I never remember what it’s like until it comes around again, and then I’m bowled over, each year as if it were all new. The scents! The colors! The bravery as daffodils get snowed on again! The first robin! The first quail (today, in the driveway, little chatterbox).
Last summer my front yard was removed in order to make the road wider for bike lanes. The overall effect is still a little raw and unprotected looking, so I thought I’d show you close-ups of what’s beautiful. This narcissus bulb and its eight or ten sisters we planted at the base of a new white dogwood.
The scent of daphne — there are two, planted side by side (cultivar Carol Mackie) — greets me as I walk from the car to the front door, at about waist level in a raised part of the garden. This was one of my only calculated plantings when I first moved in, 17 years ago. I’m still not an experienced gardener, though I know more than I did back then, including how much trial and error is involved in making a true garden. The light, the soil, the drainage, the wind, the neighboring plants, it’s all important. My motto is: read up on things, ask your neighbors, and then just try it.
My friend Alan Haight, of Riverhill Farm, first told me about cerinthe. From four little starts in two-inch pots I now have about 30 plants. They come up in late fall and last through the winter, blooming in March, and then the minute it even pretends to get hot they fade and disappear. The leaves are almost like succulents. It’s also called Pride of Gibraltar and, goofily, “blue shrimp plant.”
Did you know it’s not just the snazzy fruit trees that flower? This is a maple my friend Heidi gave me to start putting psychological distance (and beauty!) between me and the newly-wide road. I love the red blossoms, so easy to overlook when a cherry tree is waving at you.
A cherry tree like this one, for instance, famous in our town (Nevada City, CA) that shades Ike’s Quarter Café‘s lovely patio and drops its petals quietly into your iced tea when you aren’t looking.
This photo was taken after a weekend of rain, and the flowers are still holding, stunning on even a gray day. But my favorite view is just before they pop, in early morning sun.
What’s happening in your yard this month? Are you snowed under, like my friends in Vermont, or further along than we are here, as people are in San Francisco? I hope it’s glorious, whatever is going on, and that you’re taking a minute now and then to look closely.