It is another wintery grey Sunday morning, it is 36 degrees (feels like 32) and wet! It rained about a half an inch during the night and the ground has thawed enough to take in this lite misty rain. Everything is wet!
I made a cup of peppermint tea, find my old clogs (I am to cheap to buy the glorious garden boots I have been eyeing for two years) and I open the deck door and step out in to the moist, cool air. I have decided to walk the perimeter of the yard to see what might be peaking out and if I can tell what has survived the winter.
The yard and garden are full of branches that have fallen from the neighbors tree. They are green with moss, bark crumbling off in places and chewed on by the local critter population, which is large this spring since the winter was not harsh enough to cull the herd of rabbits and squirrels we have here in the city. (I know they are not herds but at times it feels like it from the damage they do.)
In the first sweep over the back yard I pull the larger branches off of bushes and gather some of the mess into a pile to collect later. I need the whole area to dry out a bit.
The second walk is to follow the activity at ground level. The chives are up about an inch, the columbine swirl of leaves are also up. There is a sign of a few tulip leaves but they have already been eaten by the rabbits. The rhubarb nubs sit ready to break the ground once the air warms and the sun is out for more that a few minutes each day. The creeping charlie is doing great crawling in under the fence all around the yard. (Darn it!)
There are holes everywhere. The squirrels must be seeking nuts they buried last fall and truly can’t find them. It is clear the wild animals have had a winter of fun in the yard. The smaller bushes are eaten to the ground. Many of the low branches have been striped of bark leaving the wood bare and open for winter kill and all the climbing vines have been chewed through leaving the upper branches swinging with the string trellis in the breeze.
I am a bit saddened by the early spring destruction but I realize a lot of these plants have a strong root system and will grow back. It will take time but they are not totally lost. There are a few that I am really worried about – the Smoke Bush has taken a larger hit this year and will need to be trimmed way back. The raspberry canes do not look good and several are completely missing. Not sure what happened there.
The front yard bulbs are all fenced so I have hope that the spring display will at least have a show there.
Then there is a lilac bush that lost a large branch. It was hidden behind the old fort so it went unnoticed until now. I pulled that branch free and dragged it up to my pile of sticks. Most of the buds had been eaten by the rabbits but there were a few that were above their reach. Those branches I have cut and brought into the house hoping to force them into an early bloom. I am determined to save what I can. Time will tell if we are able to get them to bloom.
It is early spring – my clogs are now by the deck door, wet and muddy, there are branches on the dinning room table, I have seeds everywhere ready for planting and my husband is just shaking his head at my mess. (It’s ok really, he will tolerate my spring mess in exchange for the summer veggies and the winter salsa from the freezer.) Now I just need it to dry out a bit and warm up.
Gardening in the wet 30’s is not as much fun as you would think!