It’s that time of year again, when I get to sit under the dogwood tree and soak up the garden. I am amazed by how much is already happening out here from perennials we planted last year. They are thriving after having a year to get established, and many things are flowering that didn’t flower last year: all of the thymes — creeping, lemon, and regular old — , the rosemary, and the lavender is about to burst into bloom. Blueberries have formed, and the rue is already bushy, covered in yellow flowers, and crawling with caterpillars. It’s not even June.
A breeze blows on the back of my neck and rustles the dogwood leaves above me. The morning sun is hot on my arm. I need to apply sunscreen. I’m on butterfly and bird watch.
It may be too windy for butterflies, or may be too early in the year, but we’ve got treats for them when their ready. I never appreciated the advantages of perennials, that they come back each year without me having to do anything. In Florida, we didn’t have winter to kill everything back. In Florida, gardening was a year round endeavor. I’m not sure perennial had meaning there.
I never knew how glorious they could be — a one time investment of work for a lifetime of beauty! The yarrow and indigo Salvia are already bonkers with blooms. The Echinacea and blanket flower have plump buds, the cat mint and Russian sage and Guara and columbine wave pink and purple flowers in the breeze.
I decided to put even more perennials in since they come back so full and vibrant each year — and because I can divide them and get free plants out of them — but I’ve also reserved a swath in front of my dogwood roost for annuals. I like to be able to try something new each year, and this year I went with yellows, reds, and oranges, with some white to break it all up. All butterfly flowers of course: scarlet sage, orange Cuphea, white Pentas, yellow, orange and pink zinnias, yellow Lantana.
The zinnias I planted from seed, and spent some time yesterday moving around to space the seedlings out. They’re doing well, but I am impatient for them to grow and bloom. That’s what money buys you in the gardening world: time. The more you spend, the less time you have to wait. I spent about $1.50 on a seed packet, and six weeks later I have about 50 zinnia seedlings 2-3 inches tall. I don’t know how much longer I’ll need to wait for them to blossom, but at blooming time I can guarantee I wouldn’t be able to buy even one flowering zinnia for $1.50.
I’m eager for the Lantana to fill out and cover the ground in front of the bird bath our daughter made me for Mother’s Day. I’ve put stones in it so butterflies can use it, too, and have a place to rest while they sip. So far I haven’t seen any birds or butterflies bathing or drinking, but I keep the water fresh anyway.
Despite my impatience for things to grow and bloom, I think this is my favorite time of year in Appalachia: the time when I can sit in the garden and steep in the growth that’s happening all around. It still boggles my mind that a kernel as tiny as a sesame seed can become a knee-, or waist-, or chest-high organism with broad green leaves, bright flower petals, pistils and stamens and complex mechanisms for fertilization, and a renewable food source for other organisms. Life is miraculous to me. A kernal to a bush, an acorn to a tree.
Our yard is not a wilderness. A manicured garden is not the first thing that comes to mind when I think “nature.” But our garden is alive. And our intention with it is to attract more life. I want bees and butterflies, wasps and worms, spiders and sparrows, monarchs and moths. I can’t get enough of watching the world around me interact, of soaking it all in and wondering at the marvel of our existence.
This is my entry for the Daily Post prompt, Infuse.