One of the rites of spring is the removal of the dead foliage on the perennials to hopefully reveal new growth underneath. It can be a real shot in the arm for the passionate gardener. A sign of better things to come and reassurance that the plants yet again, survived a brutal winter.
I probably take this rite a little too far. If you catch me at the right time, you’ll see me ripping through the soil on my hands and knees in search of any signs of plant life like a desperate dog looking for its buried bone.
Maybe I am that deeply affected by the horrific winters or maybe I’ve lost so many plants over the years that I’m scarred, but either way, I’m so incredibly pumped up to spot any signs of plant life. I thought this would wane over the years as I became more seasoned but I thought wrong. I’m still nuts for it.
Today was the first day of “out with the dead and in with the living” (wow, that is an awesome Walking Dead tagline if I do say so myself). I walked outside armed with my pruners and a little jump in my step. There wasn’t a lot of time to go on the hunt but I just needed a little fix.
First up was a Sedum. These are almost too easy. They are typically one of the first plants to show signs of life in spring and are reliably solid survivors of the winter.
While I started out in a mad rush to complete the task, I quickly found myself reminiscing about gardening of years past.
The simple image of the new Sedum growth brought me back to the late 1990’s when I planted my first perennials. I had always been told that the Sedum was fool-proof so it was one of the plants I added to my inaugural garden. I can still vividly remember the first time I set eyes on those curled up stems and how exciting it was. You mean a plant will keep coming back year after year, bigger and better? What a fantastic concept!
A gardener was officially born that day.
As I proceeded from plant to plant this morning, now in only a semi-rush, I started to realize each plant had been associated with a rather specific memory. Not all that different from the memories associated with specific songs.
The Baptisia, only added to my own garden within the past two years, will always remind me of the garden I had put together with my parents a few years back at my childhood home. Not to mention the hilarious attempts by my parents to control them after that. That is what hit me as I dug through the mulch and soil to find this.
I will always thank Amsonia for teaching me to not only think native plants, but also for accepting and appreciating what growing conditions I’ve been granted. She is as reliable as they come for surviving wet winters.
Let’s extend this trip down memory lane to the shrubs. I can remember falling in love with Viburnum carlesii years ago with those early sweet scented blooms. I didn’t think they could survive the deer but I had to have one.
I nursed that 6 inch “stick” for years to the point where it became a “real shrub”. While the blooms are sporadic due to the aforementioned deer, I get enough to make me happy.
I appreciate those that make it through …
… and even those that don’t.
Can we extend to grasses too please? Thank you.
I discovered ornamental grasses by necessity as they are one of the truly deer resistant plants in existence. They also don’t mind be flooded at times. It was an immediate love fest and it became an even deeper love once I understood the “cool season grass”. I remember identifying as many as I could online and then going into a mad rush to locate and purchase them.
I’ll take any green growth I can get in early spring and what a sweet transition they provide to the warm season grasses that follow in May.
Let’s not just talk old memories, new memories are made each gardening season. Last spring I planted a bunch of Trollius on a whim simply because I liked their orange blooms.
They aren’t deer resistant and I don’t think they care too much for the always moist soil. But you know what? They came back.
For how long, who knows?
But for now, new memory officially made.