The sun rises now by 7:30 a.m. and, when I am on my way to the radio station to do my weekly show on CJOB, it is just above the horizon. This morning it was a brilliant ball of burning fire shining straight into my eyes as I travelled east towards the studio. All around, the trees were dressed in white as the temperature is hovering around zero in the daytime, while at night it dips down to minus ten or so. It’s a different kind of hoar frost than in early winter. Now it seems chalkier, painting evergreens grey as the stock of chlorophyll in the leaves is almost completely used up. It is lovely nonetheless.
You can smell spring in the wind; but more you can feel it in your veins — there’s a lightening in my step, a singing of blood that seems to move faster. There a sort of urgency in the air. My thoughts keep slipping to the garden and what to plant this summer, how I want to renovate and do something completely new in the front yard.
I am a spontaneous gardener. No matter how much I plan. I can’t resist making adjustments at planting time and then the whole scheme goes awry. I’d like to be one of those gardeners who create symmetry in shape and form, but my gardens are always more sprawling and carefree. I have decided that this summer the front yard will be taken to task and turned into a tidy work of art. I even have a plan and have asked Jamie Coté who does this as a business to help me out. I need that kind of discipline.
I am thinking that hostas, ferns, bergenia, pulmonaria and dwarf shrubs can be made to reside under the cottonwood and between the small Blue spruce and the Amur maple. I already have a number of these plants that could be divided, not to mention a couple of lovely little lime coloured barberries. Sadly, all my beautiful heuchera succumbed to the warm winters of the past couple of years; they will need replacing to add a few notes of contrast. I mustn’t forget to add some of the fabulous Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ or better still, ‘Looking Glass’, the leaves of which are almost white with a frosting of mint. It’s about texture as much as colour, so I will have to have some astilbes for their ferny foliage. Maybe I could add some wine-coloured bugloss to cover any bare patches. I need to create some mass plantings to allow the shape and colour of the plants to show to their best advantage. With Jamie’s help, the plan will be fulfilled because I won’t be in there at the planting, changing my mind and making impulsive decisions. Either way, I can hardly wait. And I am going to enrich the soil this spring while we are waiting for planting time. The front gardens have gone several years without any help and they show it.
Right now I am shopping in my mind’s eye but wait till I get to the garden centres. I wonder if there’d be room for an elephant’s ear — I’d like the black one. Could I add a miniature water feature to keep it happy?
You see what I am doing here, don’t you? I am reneging on my promise to Glenn to remove the old cottonwood. I am enabling its shade and giving up the luxurious green lawn he longs for — right now the tree drinks as much water as we can pour on the grass. But the call of the garden is strong and I hope he will forgive me. Of course the more I enrich the borders, the more the tree will thrive and the more it will be thirsty . . .