March 20. 2010
sandals beckon my feet
El Nino brought us calm warm days in February and a fairly mild March. We have had relatively little rain here at Ocean Shores. This weekend is in the upper 50’s, the days soaked in sunshine. I want to spend every breathing moment outside in my garden. I want to lose myself among the roots and leaves and planted beds.
And today I did lose myself in the loveliest way. The hours flew by as I deadheaded last year’s crocosmia and lavender heads. I clipped browned fronds from the ferns and delighted in seeing the small coiled fiddleheads waiting to emerge. I cut back the salal and huckleberries along the path, which leads to the open grassy meadow. I drastically cut back the hardy fuchsia bushes in anticipation of their bright red tubular flowers that attract hummingbirds in droves.
I pruned the roses. You see those perfect pictures of huge Cecil Bruner climbers and you think, “I want that”. That’s exactly what I did. Think twice. They grow like weeds here on the northwest coast (if protected from the deer). And when pruning, even if you are very careful, you will inevitably cut out the wrong thorny stalk (that’s what I did today), but never mind, they grow back. I shouldn’t complain about the rose bush’s vigorous growth and the labors of pruning. The reward comes in June in fat lush roses.
When I was a kid, my friends and I used to whisper about the neighbor lady who weeded and watered her garden late at night (in the dark, amid the nasty Midwestern mosquitoes and the magical fireflies). We could see her from our windows at night. Already bathed and dressed in my pajamas, I observed her with a rude curiosity and took mental notes so that I had something to talk about in the morning at play with my friends. We were certain she was a little “off”.
Now as an adult, I know that gardening can make you that way. How else can you explain why I use the pruning sheers for 4 hours straight, only to wake up in the middle of the night with a numb hand and arm? The madness is that, lost in time, I voluntarily work until the last of my strength has left me.
In the garden, I become an insane lady. I hear my mother’s voice. I hear her speak to me in her Gruttisi dialect. Taunting me, urging me, daring me. “Taglialu, nun’ata’ scantari ‘ca iddra doppo si piglia e po’ veni chiu forti” (Cut it back. Go on! Don’t be scared because the harder you prune, the stronger it will come back.) Seriously, dad’s out there, too. He has a gentle voice full of wisdom. I hear him crystal clear, “Vidi. Gia incumincianu affaciari. Atta fare attenzioni di non tocari ca.” (See, already the buds are showing. Be very careful not to touch these.) It makes me happy that they are with me in the garden, guiding me, teaching me, keeping me company.
rhododendrons ready to burst open
primroses gracing rock
And so the garden work goes from shaping the candytuft and honeysuckle to relocating plants that need new locations such as the New Zealand variegated flax and mom’s snapdragons. A stray snapdragon was growing outside of the fenced in area and so I discovered that the deer are not interested in snapdragons. Now my plan is to have snapdragons growing like wildflowers all over the property, just like the California poppies. I also ended up putting the Italian Cyprus into potted containers since I discovered that the deer find them very tasty! The potted containers are on the deck. I pray the deer never get gutsy enough to brave the steps leading to the deck.
variegated New Zealand flax
All my gardening is done at Ocean Shores. I find great satisfaction in immersing myself in the task at hand. As I weed the beds, hours melt away. Email and phone calls can wait. I can hear the sound of the waves of the Pacific Ocean a quarter mile away as I clip, dig, trim, plant, till, tug, pull, pick, turn soil, mulch.
tell me this daffodil isn’t smiling!
There are not so many critters out yet. I did hear some bomber flies buzz past me. But the birds! Now that is another matter. They are everywhere. Towhees, chickadees, finches, and yellowish greenish warblers happily feed at Rick’s bird feeder. A sharp shinned hawk came by and sat on the bird feeder, looking for a feathered friend to feed on. All the birds made themselves scarce with his presence. And then a great blue heron flew directly over my head. I watched it and I think I forgot to breathe for a moment. And we saw our first hummingbird today!! The air and earth are alive with hints of spring. My skin and lungs feel alive with the fresh ocean air. My heart feels happy and my mind is in a state of quiet contemplation over the beauty of it all! http://www.frangallo.com