Spring has sprung in Cedar Creek! I was in the courtyard with my trusty Calla Lily; she is forever looking for toads, maybe trolls, who truly knows what lurks under the boardwalk. Toads are certainly there, size of baseballs and don’t care much for dogs. Even after she’s been slimed by a toad, bit by a snake, Callie still thinks she’s a hunting dog, it’s not going to happen. She does have a good time and is a good garden companion.
I talk to Callie, and yesterday wasn’t an exception. I pointed out bees by the hundreds, buzzing of bees was everywhere, as it is most days with spring trees and roses in bloom. The red bud tree is outstanding smothered in its vibrant pink blooms. Redbuds are beautiful. The trees literally cover themselves with blooms, bringing to mind a woman going to a ball, all decked out in her finest.
One of the spring delights I miss from my life in the Midwest are the lilacs. To me there is nothing that matches the scent of a lilac in bloom, the mountain laurel scent is grape, seems a perfect match with it’s vibrant blue color with dashes of white; a very acceptable replacement for the lilacs.
One plant I haven’t been able to find a replacement for is the peony, my daughter Christina’s favorite flower and one of my favorites. Picking huge bouquets to bring in was a spring tradition. In Upper Michigan a July tradition, just a bit on the cooler side next to Lake Superior. Gardeners here do try to grow peonies but after loving the ‘real thing’, I’ll find something to plant that likes Texas.
I’ve been picking the irises as soon as they begin to open. I’m finding they continue to bloom, buds opening as large and beautiful as if I’d left them in the garden. I like to bring as much of the garden in as I possibly can. When the roses see me coming they know it’s either pruning time or I’m in search of a bloom or two, it’s still early for them to be covered with open blooms, I’ve still managed to cut a few.
My grandchildren, Riley Ann and Jack like to ‘pick’ the roses that are about to fall, and drop the petals into the bird bath, they claim It’s a special petal bath for the birds. After a few days it does get a bit slimy, they don’t notice I do clean it; they simply fill it up again, the birds don’t seem to mind at all.
One of the roses by our front door is gigantic; it reaches to the roofline and has few thorns. I like to prune roses and this one allowed me to prune a hiding spot inside of it. The kids & I can get inside the rose and watch the world from the inside out. It’s an interesting perspective and I often wonder what it looks like through their eyes. At times I feel like the old woman from Hansel & Gretel!
Games in a garden are never-ending. The ‘reward’ (if you call it one) is a hug and kiss if you win! We ask Riley and Jack to search for things in the garden, something blue, a frog, a pine cone, a hummingbird, a bird’s nest, ribbons swaying in the wind, the list goes on. They get very involved and most often Hal and I tire before they do. Our courtyard is special to me; it’s always lovely, the grass always green, it is serene. It is a microclimate, so if it’s chilly outside (that does happen even in Texas), the courtyard is usually perfect. Perfect for morning coffee, or late afternoon wine. It’s a haven for birds, I find birds nests everywhere when the plants thin in the fall, or when I am pruning.
A garden in our environment does have its dangers, not a surprise something so beautiful would have some dark side (in addition to the trolls). We occasionally have snakes, after a rain fire ants often appear in swirling mounds and my most irritating invaders are wasps. They build a very nice looking nest. After they are not so politely asked to leave I do ‘pick’ the hive, clean it (they have larva inside the combs, this requires a toothpick and an anal personality) and it becomes fine material for decorating, bringing outside in, the same with the birds nests. I’m an inveterate collector of outside treasures.
This time of the year the birds nests are left alone seeing they are already singing their mating songs in the early morning. It’s surprising how flimsy some of the nests are and that they don’t blow away tossing babies and all to the danger of the ground, they never do. Always interesting to see just what the birds (we have a lot of cardinals) put in their nests. Sometimes things I recognize, like fur from brushed cats, maybe a dropped string. The cats are happy being useful to the birds that tempt them from the windows, maybe not, but I’d like to think they would enjoy being useful.
Spring is fleeting, just beginning and I hope to miss none of the beauty. The wild flowers will begin in a few weeks and they are exquisite, if we have rain, they put on an extraordinary show. And, yes, people do put their children, their dog, horse, whatever in the fields of blue bonnets to take pictures!