Spring is Riz – and This is How the Garden Iz

Posted on April 2, 2013


“There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks. Most of the time we are simply not patient enough, quiet enough, to pay attention to the story.”

– Linda Hogan

Star magnolia in Spring

A star magnolia heralds the first days of Spring.

Alleluia, the waiting seems to finally be over! Not only has Easter been a celebration of joy and rebirth, but Spring has also arrived to our area in a welcome, though uncharacteristic explosion of warmth, sunshine and blossoms over the last few days. I am certainly not alone in checking the calendar and realizing that late March/early April rarely is accompanied by temperatures around 20 degrees C (70 degrees F) in the Okanagan. Yes, I am relishing the sunshine and warmth on my face while it lasts. It would seem terribly cruel to have the veil of winter chills cloak us again just as everything is bursting with newness. I so want to be done with winter.

It has always been in my nature to ramp up the activity level in the garden after the time change happens in spring and the daylight hours are longer. As happy as I am about the extra time, it also is a signal to brace myself for muscle aches – the season of “garden warrior” is beginning. You see, there always seems an urgency to dispose of the residuals of withered material and have a good, general tidy up before things leaf out in a major way. Hubby constantly tells me that I can’t sit still at this time of year, that I’m always puttering at some project in the yard in my free time. (Is the garden ever really complete?) There is a lot of truth to his criticism, but with the long Easter weekend just past and heavenly sun puddles on our back deck for another day, I consciously “flipped my switch off” and enjoyed several morning coffees watching our backyard menagerie of birds and fish in the pond. No cell phone or laptop or blogging. Doing sweet nothing, I found, was exactly what I needed to do. The “warrior” time could wait a bit.

Colourful tulips

Cheery tulips are a sure sign of Spring

Spring is a magical time of reacquainting one’s self with sights and sounds that have been asleep for the last few months. Chickadees and platoons of quail are now part of the morning chorus. The occasional raven squawks atop a lodge pine. The regular arrivals and departures of our resident ducks are always announced with dramatic quacks and splashes in the pond. Though silent, even our resident turtle Zippy has resurfaced to bask in the sun’s rays on a driftwood log at the edge of the pond. The neighbourly chatter across the street eases back into the routine after only the occasional arm wave while clearing snowy driveways. (Funny how brief the conversations can be when you’re bundled up to your cheeks and it’s -12 degrees C.) There’s the familiar sounds of children playing outside and lawn mowers starting up. How many times has this scenario come around without us paying any attention? And yet, all are comforting signs that we have emerged from yet another cold season and hope lies ahead. To a gardener like myself, it is always about hope and anticipation.

Forsythia blooms

Forsythia blooms make me smile.

There are some spring time chores that I truly detest (like cleaning out our pond and repotting the water lilies), but like most things in life of value, some hard work is required. Our aging bodies, like the earth we try to overturn, take time to warm up. There’s a temptation to rush gardening, but that usually leads to frustration and achy joints, two things that are most certainly un-therapeutic. I like to think of myself as a hardy perennial – predictable and happy to expand (my mind, not my mid-section).

Hubby and I are often asked why we work so hard in the garden when it’s so hard physically. The answer is simple: to watch a plant grow from seed and flourish is not unlike starting a family and watching your children mature into wonderful adults. You need a lot of faith behind plants and kids. Our family nest may be empty now, but we’re just not ready to downsize the garden yet. Yeah, there will come a time when the workload will require some extra hands (or maybe even a gorgeous young landscaper guy?) to help out, but not yet. We love how our garden is transformed through the seasons. Spring time is when the cycle begins.

Garden plaque

My garden … my retreat.

I have a small garden plaque that sums it up nicely: “My garden … a thing of beauty and a job forever.” I just need to learn to stop and enjoy it more often it seems, starting with a morning coffee.