The timing of spring is relative in midcoast Maine.
While others anticipate the days that fall in and around the twenty-first of March, we scoff. Maybe… maybe… that will bring what we lovingly – or not – call ‘Mud Season’ by the end of March, but we also that all the way through April, and even into early May, snow might fall. Planting before Mother’s Day, and even Memorial Day, is discouraged.
But the cool thing is, when it falls this late in the season, it’s beautiful and it disappears quickly. Also, the plants all but laugh in the flakes’ faces (which can be fun to watch).
That’s the Courtyard Garden, above. The picture was actually taken last fall, but you can see how lush and full it is.
And I’m not just saying that.
I’m saying that because of this…
Which was the Courtyard Garden at the beginning of last week.
So to go from that, to the photo at the very top?
Sure, my brain tells me there’s a heap of science and stuff behind all that happen (*shrugs and makes an ‘eh’ face).
But then my soul bursts through the doors, elbows all Biology and Botany aside, grabs the mic, and shouts “It’s all magic… all of it!”
And it happens… every year.
The days start to expand… the light changes, almost indescribably, as it washes over the world. Warmth creeps into the air and soil. The inhabitants of the world beneath us stir, calling out to those who’ll listen.
And for we who garden, the cleaning and the smoothing and the clipping and the mulching and the sweeping begin.
Oh, I have help.
Why? Well, the Courtyard Garden is but one garden area at The Inn (Yes, because I’m a psycho). Let’s see…
Courtyard Garden… Yew/Cedar/Rhodie Smoosh… Rose Hill Hedge… Octopus’ Garden in the Shade… Outside Fence… Back Garden… Dry Creek by Judy’s Garden… Screen Porch Garden featuring Hummingbird Central (a large honeysuckle vine)… Entry Wall Garden… Front Wall Garden… Front Daylily Garden… Spruce/Lilac Border… Funky Willow Bed… Strawberry/Swiss Pine/Birch Garden… Waterside Dry Creek Garden… Waterside Rose Hedges… Waterside Sedum and Catmint Gardens… Waterside Thyme Beds… Waterside Mixed Perennial Border (all 200 feet of it)…
So that’s 1, 2, 4, 7….
Let’s just go with ‘several’.
The initial ‘getting ready’ of these several gardens, outside of any specific new projects, sometimes bleeds into weeks. And then there’s the inevitable and ongoing weeding. Which we don’t talk much about because, well… weeding. But, then again, mulching helps! It looks like this is very thick and heavy mulch but it isn’t. The plants come in so thick here, they keep the weeds at bay. A light coating of mulch as a punctuation to the clean-up is plenty to dissuade the initial weeds until the other plants… the ladies mantle, the catmint, the chives, the lilacs and peonies and coral bells and geranium and roses and hydrangea… well, you get the picture… until they all show up. Plus it smells so good!
This entire corner will be filled with peonies. You can see the de-burlapped boxwood and funky, weepy Norway spruce (‘Acrocona’) near the barn. Those were all planted as babies last year. Prior to that, the area was used as an orphanage for new and recently divided plants that needed homes. The tall things to the left are standard lilacs (‘Donald Wyman’) and to the right are beach roses (‘Rosa Virginiana’)
Below, the beach roses line the right side of the walls, while hydrangea (“Annabelle”) and old world roses are on the left side of the stairs. That’s an old azalea shrub at the top there. It blooms with gorgeous pink flowers in May.
If you look back into the yard, into the corner of the fence you can see one new, unfaded fence panel. That panel replaced the one crushed by the huge pine tree that was the anchor of a grove that grew together in front of that fence. We were so sad to lose it but, once that main tree fell, the rest were unstable. We’ll be planting a number of conifers/evergreens, including blue spruce, white spruce, and Norway spruce, along with a river birch there at the end of May. I come up with names for any who show themselves to be especially rascal-y (‘Thing One’, ‘Thing Two’, and ‘Snuffy’ are taken).
Below is a close up of the recently divided hydrangea (“Annabelle”) shrubs in and among the roses. The house in the background is a twin to ours, each was a wing on an old brick house that was destroyed by fire in the 1800s. The burning of the brick house is sad, but it’s pretty cool to know that our neighbor’s house shares its history with ours. They’re in the middle of a major restoration now (we know what that’s like!).
A juniper (‘Blue Star’) sits at the edge of the front wall. This corner also fills with peonies in May and the buttery daylilies behind them bloom along the entire front of the house all summer long. Last year I planted wispy cosmos among the daylilies. It was kind of fun and funky. I think I’ll do that again!
We’ve got a bunch of projects to tackle, now that the snow is probably done.
^That was happening about 8 hours ago.
But you get it.
Spring in Maine always seems to show up a little bit closer to everyone else’s summer. And, this year, it’s coming with a little more meaning, more symbolism, than in the past.
It feels like we’ve been cooped up for too long, for so many more reasons than weather… waiting and watching for the signs.
But the birds are back from their wintering grounds, and the days are getting warmer.
As the warmth spreads, we’ll be moving outside to ease and urge and encourage and wonder at the life that returns.
Might take a little bit of work – or more than we think we’re capable of – to bring the gardens, and ourselves, back from where we’ve been.
But this I know…
Spring always shows up.
Thanks for readin’ (and be well ❤)
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