A sunny, warm early spring day gets a gardener’s juices churning to a point that makes it difficult to hold back from racing out to buy colorful plants to sink into the ground. But rather than racing out to buy new plants I like to use these days to take stock … to go on spring retreat. During the last three glorious days I did just that … but never had to leave my southern Connecticut gardens. I dug weeds from the lawn and planted grass seed; screened compost from one bin set to decompose last fall and topped off another bin I’ll tap into by mid-summer; cleared leaves from planting beds and thinned and transplanted perennials (daylilies, lamb’s ear, campanula, carex, sedum, veronica, hosta, and periwinkle). In the edible garden I thinned and watered stands of peas, lettuce, and radish; harvested over-wintered cilantro to add to a batch of salsa; and guided raspberry canes to grow within their roped areas. With each early sprouting weed yanked from the earth, I noted the color, texture, and worm activity of the surrounding soil. Now I have a clearer view of which areas need an added boost of compost and what spots might benefit from additional color or structure. I know which perennials succumbed to winter and need replacement and what spots to brighten with long blooming annuals. This retreat gave my muscles a workout as they soaked up warmth from the sun; it refreshed my brain as I listened to the calls of birds; and it filled my soul with hope as I took in the beauty of blooming bulbs and remembered the colors and scents of the re-emerging perennials. And while I noted much, much more to do than I’ll ever have time to complete (remember, gardening is never done … thankfully) my new to-do list does not detract from the pleasure and the invigoration I gained on retreat.
An aside: for an amusing read on the need for garden fencing read Gerri Hirshey’s article in the New York Times. I will now forever think of chipmunks as “rats with racing stripes.”