By Karen Grava
Although I see in the paper that some of the daffodils in Hubbard Park are coming up, my yard remains desolate. There are a few snowdrops, but no crocus and no sign of the 109 bulbs I planted last fall.
There is some hope for spring, however. I revel in the buds on my lilac bush and on the large quince bush I acquired last summer. It was transplanted for me by some friends whose small yard the bush outgrew. It suffered tremendously from the move. It looked shriveled and beaten for weeks. I watered it and talked to it and hoped it would survive. It did! I cannot wait until the flowers open and reveal their color.
My neighbor’s tulip tree, which borders my property, has beautiful buds on it. This tree is not only magnificent but smells great. Unfortunately, it does not stay in bloom all summer. I don’t think the neighbors know this, but I stand beside the tree every time I go out to revel in its fragrance and beauty.
(They also planted roses between our houses. The bushes are prolific and the neighbors allow me to pick the flowers on my side. And they last all summer into the fall. But so far, those bushes don’t look alive.)
The warmer days we have experienced are a tease. My husband and I have walked downtown to eat outdoors but at home, the summer furniture is still covered or housed in the shed. I know we are in for more winter and even more snow. But I am ready for sun and warmth and plants.
In the two years since I retired, I have begun gardening in earnest. I have had brush and dead and spindly trees removed and have replaced them with lawn, raised beds and border plantings. I have learned a lot — and acquired some nice friends — from joining the Wallingford Garden Club. Speakers there have helped with my new raspberry and blueberry beds and members have offered advice that has been invaluable. I pruned my lilacs last fall using a YouTube video and got advice from a friend on why my Brussel sprouts never grew beyond pea-size. (Not enough water.)
The pandemic is a great excuse to putter around the outdoors. Soon I will be picking up sticks and cleaning up debris. In late April, I can force some items to bloom indoors. And in May, I can plant annuals and herbs. But best of all, by June I will arrange flowers from my gardens for indoor bouquets.
There is nothing like throwing on some old clothes, grabbing a cup of coffee and working outside until it starts to get too hot to stay outdoors. When I get tired, I sit on my garden bench and throw a ball for the dog, who never gets tired. To change it up, I can visit a nursery and get a few more plants to place in the beds I’ve created. And there are always weeds. Lots and lots of weeds. (Who would ever think I would be lusting after weeds?)
So I am going to hang on for spring. Winter in New England is better with a couple of January weeks in a summer clime. Pandemic fear kept us home this year. So for the next six weeks, we will have to be content with the occasional warm day, Netflix, and a good book. Or, and garden catalogues.
Karen Grava is a Wallingford resident and a member of the Wallingford Garden Club.