There was no way I could catch up all my gardening friends as I frantically
noticed Spring sign in full earnest. Buds were shyly emerging from dark
twigs and stems, some of them blushed with pinks and pirkles and plum colors
and highlighted by soft yellow orange (the Spirea's), others were already
eagerly thrusting outwards, the Sorbaria throwing ferny triangles on the
ends of every shoot in the NSSG.
The Cornelian cherry has been teasing and taunting me now for weeks. First
hints of parted round lips of the many hundreds of round budlets on the
ends, crooks, crotches and places all over the now almost eleven year old.
The bark is peeling now, to reveal yet another treasure to add to the
visual. At her feet, the Cynthiana tulips wide leaves that I tucked in from
14 years diggings of my now almost past gardens in my first home in
adore these tulips. The yellow petals like upside down skirts blush plum
rose on the outer sides. No sign of bud yet, but I trust the bulb fairy
explicitly to do his job, I suspect he has the help from his wife mate on
the patterns on each petal on all these bulbs that are tended. And I keep
him busy, ever adding more to the beds and pots for him to approve or
banish. I never know what will strike his fancy.
This year he's apparently disliked the blousy daffs. My beloved and highly
fragrant Cheerfulness and Yellow Cheerfulness. And no sign of my cherished
Sir Winston Churchill......I will get more to appease his little self, and
beg his tolerance for this great narcissus. Sir Winston smells so wondrous
and enticing and the folds are so beautiful you almost want to nip it as you
inhale it, tasting the flavor of the rich, oily and perfumey smell of it on
your tongue and nose. It's divine. I grieve at the possibility of the loss
of it, but know that Dutch Gardens carries them alternate years.
My mind now is in total chaos, flitting about like some heavily drugged fat
bumblie, I take the digital with me to capture images on too bright of a
day. The kind of day that my eyes appreciate, but I will have a hard time
grabbing the intensity of some of the little things I will come across.
The decisions to start on the east never fail. It's that side of my nook.
But from there I am like a puppet, being pulled back and forth in giddy
abandon, squatting, kneeling and sitting to get the best up in your face
picture I can. The dogs are confused by my actions, Sugar has drawn a blank
as to what I am doing, silly dawg. She should know mama does this often and
with great relish and affection.
My mind not on the dawgs, I slip over towards the display of incredible
bells and skirts of my Hellebores. My little garden granny gnome quietly
standing vigil with her love of the wee frogs, she is almost overwhelmed by
the blousy magnitude of a deliriously happy Lenten Rose. Lots and lots of
skirts hanging by thick threads waiting for frantic and giggly faerie ladies
to pull them on in the twilight and dance for hours and then put them back,
with only the underskirts disturbed. I lift a face and gaze with awe and
love. Take a picture and almost wish that their beauty had scent too, but
something's just don't have to be. Mom's Nature knows what she does.
As I am sitting in the driveway, I glance over towards the almost
skeletonized whiskey barrel sitting forlornly against the thick trunk of my
black cherry tree. The round bands stand tribute and evidence that the
great barrel I half filled with dirt really did reside there for eleven
years and before that, more like a total of 20 years, maybe even more, now
that I think about it as it originally started out as the back seat for a
Harley Davidson 1945 police issue trike.
The picture in my mind and Polaroid is my youngest son obviously a tyke
"driving" the trike with Squire proudly sitting in the back seat. When the
trike was sold to someone else who found the last two parts and was worthy,
we kept the barrel and I turned it into a place to stage houseplants until
we moved to Eastern Tennessee in 1992. I continued to use it to stage heavy
pots of whatever needed a lift the three years plus and finally gave it the
rest of planting it against the black cherry tree and filling it up to the
barrel staves where Squire had cut the oak to allow someone to sit
comfortably, and in doing so, the circular saw blade jumped out of his hand
with the guard not coming down and cutting his inner leg three inches deep.
There are memories tied up with those remains.
I sit on the warm ground on black cherry leaves and notice just outside the
edge of the barrel little familiar folds with tiny clusters of an emerging
bud shoot. Oh my goodness. The Virginia bluebells are already coming up?? I
roll over and get up and pick my way past the small entrance into this
little garden that I use every inch of and carefully kneel down and examine
the emerging shoots of the perennial. Inside the barrel, the other clumps
of bluebells are just coming up. I'll never understand their liking more to
the floor of the black cherry garden to the soils I put into the barrel, but
over on the right of the barrel where the round rings stand silently, I see
the familiar textured stain glass like leaves of cyclamen. How I wish I had
a whole bag of these wonderful beauties. I adore their leaves, and always
miss the teeny fairy flowers of pink when they emerge sometime in the fall
As I sit on the ground, listening to the dawgs in their growling, grappling
games they play with each other constantly, I hear the wild and raucous
calls of every male flying mini-dragon in the ridge and woods and holler.
Calling out in loud abandon to come mate with me, come make eggs and downy
baby fledglings with me this summer. I'll make you such a beautiful nest,
one you'll be proud to sit in." It makes me smile, as I investigate even
further the appearances of the many inhabitants of the black cherry tree.
Lots of green tongues up high, sticking out towards the sky and limbs above.
Pottingshed's hyacinth "taters" (I lovingly call them that because their
bulbs so much look like little white taters). Green tulip shoots with white
edgings that are the Mardi Gras tulips. I love the leaves whether they bloom
this year or not. The many spikes of them rise taunting me. I dare to hope
they wow me again this year.
I am blown away by the many Spring sign. The ferny leaves of the Arborvitae
fern which isn't a fern at all but a moss.........and near and behind it,
the variegated Pieris, with stiff shoots of splayed out leaves with reddish
pirkle ear of corn looking "Woodstock" hyacinths already setting budlets.
They are so tight they DO look like some odd colored, fat ears of corn
tucked inside each goofy looking leaf cluster.
A clump of Columbine of unknown origins has unfolded her leaves and is
sprawling over the edge of the raised bed. The reminders that I need to
edge this bed with stacking retainer blocks become more evident as I look at
my make shift sides to shore up the raised rich humusy soils. Hugging
tightly against the tree's large trunk, an odd fern that I picked up at a
little nursery is gasping for me to pour some soils around the back section
of rhizomes. And just past it to the south side of the tree and bed,
Epimedium leaves are starting to push past the older leaves. I love so the
heart shaped tough leaves of them so. The flowers when they come are so
fairy like. I hear applause every time I discover them dangling ever so
daintily when they do emerge.
Against the northern side of the spent whiskey barrel, under the bottom edge
of the end band, primrose leaves show themselves green thru the brown
leaves. Near the 'Woodstock's' are the seedlings of Hellebore that I lifted
out of the clay soil just outside the bed two years ago and now they're
blooming a dusky rose color. One baby has three buds and one mature blossom
on it and I praise it to the skies. Behind and against the northern side of
the large tree trunk, I had tucked in a double white this late winter I'd
happened upon, and one that promised to maybe be as dark purple as to appear
black. Having moved the tags before I knew where I put each one, it will be
a gentle surprise when they set buds.
Against the edge of the bed, lined with bricko blocks resides those
Hellebore, and tucked everywhere, bulbs of all varieties are rising thru the
thick mat of leaves. Identities will be withheld until they set buds. Thru
those leaves, I see unfurling leaves of 'Toad lilies' and the Loripedilum I
tucked at the southern corner is setting nicely since I staked it with a
shorty rebar and bright pink piece of cloth. At her feet, it's not
determined whether the shoots in the soil escaping are daylilies or
Spiderworts. I'll know later. I was too excited to look further.
Across the driveway, the St. John's wort bush is fuzzy with teeny emerging
leaves, so textured and so cute.......No signs yet of either my Jackmanii
clematis that I unwound from the rusted porch supports and rotten twisted
grapevine last year to thread thru the new trellises and rebar I looped over
and across for them to attach to instead. I'm contemplating on planting the
Porcelain vine baby underneath the St. John's and against the trellis to
train it to meet the Jack halfway. There is also a double white clematis
that gives me two flowers that I hope will bulk out this year. No sign of
her either in the wall gardens of the NSSG. But lots of yellow corydalis
clumps, with their whacky columbine like leaves. Too many wild
strawberries, the little fairy in charge of the wild ground covers has been
busy. And I thought I'd pulled them all up...............
I stand against the wall and see the other impressive clump of Hellebore in
the raised bed that runs the length of the nook mini deck. These are white
and some are blush pink with white. I might have planted two together. And
underneath their skirts is a dark plum colored one I just tucked in to keep
Karol's flame Azalea has little buds but no promises of flowers and then we
don't know if it's a real flame Azalea or not until it flowers. I don't
care. This one has survived me and that's all I care about. I realize I
haven't looked at the Encore azalea underneath the black cherry tree and
walk back, and it's alive!! No signs of hosta's yet, but I see fleshy tips
of Bleeding hearts. Being pulled back to the NSSG I am overwhelmed at
The Sorbaria has stems everywhere. I relented and had planted the yellow
twig and red twig dogwood, 'Artic Fire' in between the Sorbaria stems where
I'd lifted the Mexican jasmine that Mary Emma had given me a few years
because it needed more sunlight than it was getting underneath everything.
As I stood there, admiring the combinations of plants, I noticed a
suspicious bud at the up tipping stems of my baby dogwood tree next to the
Cornelian Cherry and my heart skipped a beat. I counted. Four. WOO
HOO!!!!!! Now I can't wait until they open to see what color it's going to
be. Mary Emma gave me the tree as a mere seedling of a few inches and it's
taken eleven years to set buds.
Everywhere I look I am drawn. I go back down the driveway because I see
bright golden glaring up at me. So I walk quickly back and see that in the
raised bed of the Lady Jane magnolia, which is thick with silvery catkins on
every twig and stem, there has returned the pot of golden large crocus. and
next to them, the pulmonaria that I can't remember the name. But it's leaves
silvery and bright in the dark soils and leaves. On the southern side of
the bed underneath the shrubby tree, is a HUGE clump of Blackberry
corydalis, and that lifts my heart as well. As I stand there transfixed, my
eyes catch the glimpse of something dark green and familiar. Good lord!
It's VINCA MAJOR!!!!!!!ACKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK how on earth did it get
this far??? And this lush:???? As I quickly bend down to pull carefully, I
see it's trying to root underneath the fallen leaves and I tear up five
strands that are too healthy for me and toss them into the concrete drive
where I watch to make sure they don't grab the pavement and crawl away.
That there was some kinda huge fairy fling and party last night is obvious.
The party favors are scattered and strewn about randomly. Bright yellow's
and icy purples. Deep cherry red pink with blue and black centered species
tulips are popping up in various assorted pots everywhere. Tri-colored
crocus sieberi are popping their faces out in the "Damon" pot. And leaves
of assorted perennials are shoving the soils aside to establish territory
I've lost it now. Each outside pot has emerging plants and leaves in them.
The bed that I keep calling the 'dead maple' bed has a small dwarf white
buddleia that has silvery blue leaves everywhere along it's stems. I haven't
the heart to cut her back. Behind her a Navajo sunset red salvia has
settled her toes into the soils, and the purple black leaves of the old
magenta fall phlox are pushing this soil to the sides as well.
Sedums are everywhere, some like miniature green bouquets of roses at the
bases of the dried and almost pale kakis colored stems. I haven't cut them
off yet as some new babies cling to the bottoms of these stems like spoiled
children cling to their mama's as she tries to put them down. I must have
tossed crocus in some places, I see splashes of deep colors of C. vernus
Twilight and a few golden C. flavus Yellow Mammoth standing out forlornly in
the Frakartii aster bed.
The iris reticulata have succumbed to the heat in the dead maple bed, but I
see signs of a forgotten aster rising between the sedums. Across in the
first Eastern fairy bed, everything is erupting and emerging. I can see
buds on the Korean spirea, buds on the Spice Clethra. Buds on the button
Spirea. Anemone leaves pushing thru the leaves and gutter debris that son
drops down when he cleans them out before a rainfall.
Wads of spiky leaves of Bruce daylily, fleshy house leek sedums are already
paw shaped and mounding. Ferny mounds of Oriental poppies dotting where I
plunged them when I dug them carefully at Mary Emma's years ago and now they
have rewarded me with quietly bulking up. No seedlings yet, as this is what
they were, they will all be red with black blue crosses at the bases. I
crave orange ones and the dark Patty's Plum............
Frakartii asters got all their spent stems pulled out the other day in a
frenzy of pre-Spring fever and now for my efforts I see thin tongues of
leaves from the next generation to come. Now I know how they spread and
return. At the base of each towering stem a small rootlet grows the next
year's towering stalk that is loaded with soft lavender, daisy like flowers
with yellow eyes that entice and drive the assorted fliers wild with blossom
lust. As I pulled out each brittle and scratchy stalk, I pounded the
clinging soil against the backside of the bricko blocks I used to edge the
bed and part of the front of the eastern most front of the fairy gardens and
noticed a slender green shootlet and peering closely, I discovered the
secret and was ecstatic that this was indeed how they returned. I reminded
myself to lift a few younglings later to share with my gardening friend, who
I've nicknamed "Ethyl", as I'm a most encouraging gardening
'Lucy'.......<gbseg> If I can, I'll start a few in little 4 inch pots to
sent to my other friend out in Oregon to send her to share so she'll have
something else of my fairy gardens in Fairy Holler.
Everywhere it's sprout, leaf, flower, shoot. Tangle, mound, and then a
crazy wad of wild onions that laugh at me. I can't tell the wild onions
from the alliums............it's a ponder. This time, when I plant
ornamental alliums, I'm putting little plastic tabs next to where I plunge
them to show where they're at. Leaves that tell me spiderwort. Pointy iris
triangles. Clumps of leaves that promise the Kuggle Sonne rudbeckia has
emerged early again because of the raised soils. Some tips of frayed lilies
peeping shyly thru the debris and soils to sniff at the warm air and wonder
if it's safe before Mom's Nature's last laugh nips their tender leaves.
The air is warm and smelling like good musky bread. The soils have warmed
and everything is over anxious to burst forward. The air is also filled
with the trilling of delirious, lust enraged peepers. Their creeeeeeeking's
replaced by earnest trilling on scales of sound that are audible over a cell
phone. I should know, I called son to just hold the phone out of the window
yesterday and despite it was full daylight and middle of the day, they were
singing like peepers possessed. "come mate with me bebe, I want to make
lil' TADPOLES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ".
I am giddy now, and can't slow down. Deep blush, fleshy pink leaves with
gold edged of the tree peony out front are unfurled. Her sister more demure
on the east has just started sending out tentative, tight leaves frayed at
the edges. Capturing my peripheral vision, drunken yellow butterflies, the
orange Sulphurs careen past the edges of my eyes already in search for
SOMETHING blooming! I see he lights on some of those screaming purple
crocus at the back of the long eastern fairy gardens. You almost hear
gasping sucking sounds of pleasure as he or she finds nourishment at such an
I am beside myself. I can't stop, I'm like some wound up stoned fairy child
(middle aged one, but never the less........I don't need drugs because the
mere air gets me giddy and high, the visions of flowers everywhere start my
blood seething and bubbling and I get true spring madness full on. The only
thing to dampen my spirits would be a frost or snow, and even then, I know
I'll grieve for the nipped leaves, but most everything will be fine.
My Forsythia great grand-daughter of the original butchered ones on the road
below me are lit up with screaming yellow lanterns. I thought the show
would be sparce, but they surprised me with a party of delicate papery
The western bed is cloaked and crowded with a crazy quilt of crocus.
Yellow's, white's, snow ones glistening blue-white, purple, striped, and up
to their necks with hen-bit that jealously throw their soft fuzzy purplish
flowers out to harmonize. The weed I can never put my finger on that has
teeny white flowers is everywhere. I don't mind. It rips out easily.
Chickweed has carpeted the fig bed, along with those lanky hen-bit's.
Electric rose colored leaves that are so minute on thread thin stems on my
tiny Spirea's. My crispa's, the Shiobana, the Lime green. I see blue green
leaves at the base of the Amsonia's. My mind almost explodes as I search
more and more. Containers reveal who survived the winter, surprises and
jokes........the Dame's Rockets decided to show me who was who, and threw
daughters into some of my pots. I will allow them to stay, but whack them
back severely to make them shorter. And lordy, lordy, I am overwhelmed.
Vinca as far and everywhere I look, peeking up at me in the bare area's I
thought I'd half ridden it from. Silvery and green splotched leaves of
yellow archangel laminastrum.
Pokey tan stems of everything that needs snapping and cutting. The asters
that I just plunked outside the western ended bed out of desperation when
Mary Emma asked me to just dig them up soil and all and take them. I never
cut them back because I want them to reseed for me like they had for her.
There's so much my little brain starts to simmer and I realize all this time
I've been flitting about snapping pictures and admiring and gushing and
oooohing and ahhhhing, I've not had one drink of tea or anything. My soul
full but my stomach anxious, I reluctlantly head to the side deck beside the
kitchen, and stop dead in my tracks as I see bright electric green ferny
leaves boiling over a large three gallon black nursery pot. FEVERFEW. WOW.
I walk over as if drugged and crush some leaves to smell the astringent
aeroma of them. sigh.................................
Everywhere along the edges of the ever narrowing deck, pots of emerging iris
tongues of lord knows what color iris that the farmer's wife, Virginia Davis
gifted me for digging up all her precious babies along side of her massive
yard near the overgrown grassy pasture last year. I usually don't do
bearded irises, but looking at her blousy darlings, I just couldn't help
myself. In an iris fit, I gathered up the pots and took them out front to
tip them out and carefully sit them at any south facing enclosed area I
could and see if they'd just pull themselves in and bloom for me next year.
The windowbox that I tied onto the railing has wakening ice plants and
Angelique sedums. The fiberglass square pot that looks barren I see has
thin thread leaves of someone. Maybe a species tulip or Brodiaea. A pot on
the picnic bench that serves as another landing for other pots, has clumps
of Stokesia. which reminds me to check to see if the Centaurea is
up.......yeppers! And I see Yarrow leaves all frosted and ferny laughing up
at me from the insides of the broken pot I put the original clump into.
Glancing at them I see the unmistakable triangles edged with purple of
monarda's. Phlox that Mary Emma gave me originally 11 years ago is
impatiently shoving the spent stems of last years plants still sticking up
thru the garden grid I used to support them. The single Kerria has crept
thru the loose rich soils and emerged in places that blow my mind, including
not only underneath the back landscape timber that raises the sides of the
beds, (that soils slip thru) but has popped up thru a crack in the sidewalk.
Viburnum's with dark leaves. Lenneii magnolia has such large buds the
catkins are already ripped and threaten to bloom way too early. I'm
hopelessly lost and distracted again. I see Autumn jazz Viburnum is back.
Wine and Roses weigelia has slight dark leaves. The smaller Lady Jane next
to the Lenneii is like a sassy teenager, stretching next to the elder and
larger flowered one and has those cute silver downed pointy buds.
I remember I tucked in tens and tens of anemone rhizomes and run to where I
remember them. Ferny leaves everywhere. ahhhhhhhhhh. The proof in the
pudding is if they bloom this year, but RETURN next year! I'm nervously
anxious to see if the Japanese iris I top dressed like the man who has the
nursery in middle lower Tennessee is right. I worry that the rich soils and
top dressing will discourage their flowering.
I sit down in the swing and notice that I still haven't had anything to
drink. chastising myself, I whistle for the dawgs who poke their heads
around the corner from the front dog run sidewalk as if to say, "YES???????"
and I laugh and tell them "lets go inside." Anxious to just be with me
now, they stop and drink from the waters in the fountain of the BBQ pit
garden/fountain and dripping, follow behind me, Sméagol sliming me like I
knew he would try to.
Inside I discover I still have some tea and I remember to turn on the
florescent light underneath the aquarium on the south livingroom wall for
the cacti and succulents and euphorbia's to stretch towards until I can move
them outside for real. Tea in hand, I pad down the darkened hallway because
I've been outside in the bright blue sky lit ridge, back up and grab a
watering can and fill it and then go back down the hall to the den.
Everyone is parched and leaning towards the south window that dominates the
whole wall. At my feet, I glance down and almost drop the can. A blood
lily flower is opening and she's late. By now I would have missed the
February emergence of them, but last year they bloomed not once but twice,
so I have no idea what's going on. I give everyone a deep drink, listening
to the sounds of overflow onto the vinyl floor, and smell the dusty, parched
soils gasping for moisture.
Stop and clean out the dried leaves and stems of the great bushy split-leaf
philodendrum, and happy to have done some peliminary clean up early, I go
back and get the can refilled. Good thing I got the two gallon one. The
phil takes the whole two gallons. That reminds me to water the Clivia's. I
hope Pen doesn't come up here from Australia to kick my butt if they don't
set buds this year either..............sigh. There are yellow leaves on the
largest one, but nothing yet. oh well..................maybe next year?
That's what's neat about gardeners.......ever the optimist. Next year. Next
season, next fall. The possibility of success finally........
With that, I stepped outside the side pantry room, walked thru the hallway
into and thru the livingroom and out the front door. Out the sidewalk and
up the driveway and stood looking at the wisteria trellis where the fat,
fuzz ball, Piquito, was lying on top of the dead foliage. As I spotted him
and started to smile, something bright yellow shouted out at me, and it's as
if this was why I'd gone back outside for. Underneath the Kerria stems, and
the tangle of spent Sweet Autumn Clematis and old wisteria vines and
assorted chaos, right at the edge of the trellis, I had planted some bulbs,
who knows how long. A healthy stand of tiny, perfect yellow narcissus. Each
flower just as big as my thumbnail or smaller, but perfect. and lots of
them. I felt myself sigh and decided that there was lots more to check out
on another day. I have time. And you'll be here.
Thanks for sharing these overjoyous moments with me. I look forward to
bringing you into my Fairy Holler and Eastern Tennessee at another time.
madgardener, up on the ridge, back in Fairy Holler, overlooking English
Mountain in Eastern Tennessee, zone 7, Sunset zone 36