I’ve spent every spare moment in the garden this week. How wonderful to be alive and outside in such a lovely old world as this! I simply cannot believe it each morning as I see the sun rising over the woods to the east that we are to have yet another of these Eden days.
I have a ridiculous farmer’s tan (won’t that look charming with my Easter dress on Sunday?) and my Wellington boots stand by the back door in constant readiness. I’m just so full of joy in my awakening little realm that I can hardly stay indoors (except on these still-chilly mornings!). Every time I see a loved flower curling up from the earth, or hear the raptures of a mockingbird or catch the heady sweetness of wisteria on the air I remember that it was no coincidence our Savior’s resurrection occurred in the springtime. All creation is witnessing to that greatest of miracles, death to Life!
The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth His handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech and night unto night showeth knowledge! Psalm 19
I’m passionate about my garden, and I’m afraid that anyone who drops by in the next few weeks is going to get more giddy exaltations over ladybugs and compost and seedlings than perhaps they bargained for. I’ve always wanted to grow things, and though most of my experience has come by trial and error I greet each planting season with a renewed enthusiasm and optimism. My garden journal may be more full of things not to do than of things that worked—for instance, I have given up on hybrid tea roses, as they are often laughingly treated as annuals here in the hot, humid South! But I have made joyful discoveries, as well: Virginia bluebells love the shady bed beneath my cedar trees; sweet peas will grow and actually bloom here if they’re planted no later than early January; coral bells are about the pluckiest plants around and strawberry foxgloves really are perennials!
One of my mother’s very dearest friends taught me how to garden, both by the loving example of her own flowering bit of earth as well as by actual hands-on expertise. She came over when I was still living at home and gently coached me on my little plot. She explained the needed balance between sand and mushroom compost and topsoil for our obstinate red clay, and she told me how to select plants from a nursery (and, for that matter, which nursery to go to! My favorite to this day!). She instructed me on which plants do best in our climate and gave me the confidence to drop a tidy little carefully-saved wad on an evanescent living thing simply because it was beautiful.
One of the first things I did that spring after Philip proposed was to plant a garden at my soon-to-be home. I could hardly wait to get my hands in the rich dirt around this place.
“Where do you want it?” he innocently inquired.
“Right there,” I sweetly replied, indicating the precise location upon which his bountiful woodpile reposed.
Being the darling that he is, he proceeded to cart away all the logs, and in their place I found loam richer than I dared hope—all that decomposed wood! Not long after I had my beds prepared my mother’s beautiful friend came over with a car load of rootings and young plants from her own garden, and out of the thousand kindnesses she showed me during that sweet time, none could be dearer to me than this. She gave me sweet woodruff, brown-eyed Susans, spiderwort and a ‘Fairy’ rose. I planted them with tender thoughts, for to a gardener, a living plant from another gardener is truly a bit of themselves. The rose is now three and blooms profusely in dainty pink clusters, and the spiderwort (such an ungainly name for such a graceful plant!) opened its first flowers of the season today.
So, you’ll find me in the garden these days. But I’ll be back soon to tell you about my very cherished garden books, the ones that go out into the yard with me and whose pages are begrimed with garden soil…