It is, at long last, the Spring Equinox. I love this time of year when each new bud is a discovery.
Cornelian and Nanking cherries, forsythia, daffodils, nettles and purple deadnettles, the first dandelions…
It seems that only yesterday, it was still quite wintery, and on a blustery day, I was picking the sticky cottonwood buds from the nubbly branches that break off in the wind, littering the forest floor, just begging someone to come along and recognize their significance.
This afternoon, I stood by the red flowering currant, which has grown into a gargantuan shrub of magenta blossoms, and was buzzed by a hummingbird! Fat little bumblebees were all over the Mahonia, also known as the Oregon grape.
Suddenly there is so much to do! What shall I do with all the willows? The soft pussy willow catkins on all the basketry varieties I grow — how can I possibly cut them? I should leave them for the bees…but if I wait too long? The Willow Room has taken an unruly life of its own that may not be controllable if I don’t take action now to weave it into shape…
But I know full well I control nothing in this garden.
Nature is in control.
I am but a helper.
I work to tame the berry versions of Marion, Logan, and Black
I try to wrap them in wire cages, knowing they will easily escape. I feed them compost and cover the ground with mulch to protect them from intruders.
We nurture one another, this garden and I.
I tend to wander …. it occurs to me that gardening is perfect for the person with ADD… you start one place, get distracted to another, and eventually a lot of things get done, but maybe not what you intended on your “To-Do” list, created with the intention of ultimate productivity. Once you are out there, productivity happens, not necessarily with intention, but on the path of discovery.
Plant productivity, on the other hand, is a force of nature, whether or not you encourage it, a factor of light and darkness, water, and minute communities of organisms in the soil, working tirelessly to transform the world around us …
We are not so different in this existence, the plants and I, in the basic things we need to survive… I labor in the plant world to nurture the ones in my favor; I cut off the others at their roots who attempt to destroy my vision; I justify my extermination by philosophizing how they will decompose into nutrients that feed the microbes that feed the plants, all for the greater good. True, some might consider me a bit odd in the depth to which I analyze the interactions among all the plants and animals and how they support one another, taking into account those that are opportunists that might attempt their own version of world domination.
The reality is, though, I am their slave.
And still I wander…
This is what gardening is all about.
The illusion of control; the realization that nothing is in your control; the feeling of benevolence on those that benefit from your guidance; the realization that they give their lives to support yours … and the complete awe with how beautiful it all is without your even doing anything at all.
I struggle with the deliberations of detail. Shall I create better paths? Perhaps if I defined the garden more succinctly, others would know – or at least have a more defined choice – on where to go. Does it even matter if they know where to go? Doesn’t each of us have to find our own path?
My style of gardening is not the restricted version of refined aristocrats.
Not that I have not been schooled in the ideals of manners. I have been to Versailles. I have seen up close the ornate knot gardens and plants so manicured, they were the Barbie dolls of their kind – contorted ideals of a conception of beauty.
Give me the wild woods of the rainforest any day, where the realities of nature define what can exist in harmony, and what is better in another space and time.
We are at a moment of equilibrium between light and darkness, but the world around us is just beginning to awaken. As the days become longer, we all rise up to the longer rays of the sun; as the sun rises just a little bit higher in the sky and travels just a little longer across the horizon, we linger longer to watch the colors transform the sky. Now is the time to pick a spring tonic of dandelion greens, the first nettles, and the massive mounds of chickweed, and also a handful of daffodils, just because. The first buds of the new season are such an inspiration! Everywhere you turn is another miracle…another bit of magic. The days begin to warm and the bees venture out, returning with their legs heavy with yellow pollen.