It look about a month longer than it should have, but the garden is finally up and running.
Chores that were neglected in April due to cold temperatures and lots of wet weather are finally caught up. For some reason, I never get all the chores finished, mainly because gardens themselves are never finished. But for the most part, the important jobs get the most attention, such as the planting and the weeding.
As I type this, Miss Kim lilac has dropped her blossoms and is beginning to show off her summer finery, the lovely dark-green foliage that she'll wear the rest of the summer. Here are a few more updates on topics I have written about in recent months:
l The Kousa dogwood finally bloomed. It has been five years since I planted the small twig that is now a large shrub and each year I waited patiently for blooms. As I mentioned in a previous column, it wasn't necessarily the flowers that interested me on this plant as much as the strawberry-like seed pods that form later in summer. Last week as I watched the winds of an early morning storm blow about the trees and shrubs in my yard, I caught a glimpse of the flowers as the Kousa branches were swaying around. I counted four white blossoms near the top and probably wouldn't have noticed them if they hadn't been revealed by the wind.
Four flowers isn't much to brag about, but it's a start. At least now I know the shrub is capable of blooming and perhaps next year we will be rewarded with a shrub filled with blooms. Already we have something to look forward to next season.
l There were two casualties in the garden this spring. The Pinus Strobus 'Bennett Contorted' white pine we transplanted last spring didn't make it. I blame myself. I didn't like the spot I originally chose for this plant and waited too long to decide to move it. Although we tried to get as large a section of the rootball as possible, it still wasn't enough and the tree never recovered from transplant shock. We have transplanted other, larger conifers with no problems, but not this time.
Another conifer also ended its tenure in our landscape, the temple juniper that kept leaning over a little further each year. This plant was one I really was hoping would survive and actually, it didn't fall over because it was dead. It just couldn't hold itself up any longer. The falling wasn't fast nor was it loud. There was no thud or roar or even rustle of branches. It simply laid over as if it was trying to get more comfortable. Unfortunately, there was no space available in the spot where it chose to rest. The husband severed its too-thin trunk at the soil surface and dragged it off of the variegated dogwood and yellow daylilies it was trying to smother.
There is a good side to this story, however. A few days after the too-weak tree was taken out, I was perusing the site from a window and wondering what should replace the juniper in the large empty space. As I stood quietly thinking, a rose breasted grosbeak flew onto the dogwood and began picking at the flower clusters among the leaves. I had never seen a rose breasted grosbeak in my garden before. Perhaps nature was trying to tell me something. I think it was reminding me that gardens are ever-changing. When something familiar and perhaps comforting is gone, don't look at it as a loss but instead as a beginning for something new.
When my now adult children found out a tree was removed from our yard, they both had the same response.
''It's not the big tree in the back yard that's been there forever?'' they asked.
The tree they referred to that has been there ''forever'' is a large sugar maple. A week after our wedding, the husband and I planted two small maple saplings at what was then the edge of our property. Both trees were dug from behind his father's house on the opposite side of town.
I reassured my kids that the tree they remember as being there forever is still standing, just as tall and gorgeous as ever. That is one space I hope I never need to fill.