You know how it is with an April day.
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You're one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
a cloud come over the sunlit arch,
And wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you're two months back in the middle of March.
All photography courtesy of our private collection.
The earth awakes and so do I. Spring’s cycle of rebirth stirs me into life again, just like the daffodils and the fragrant hyacinths scenting the air as they sway outside our door. I am drawn to the courtyard each morning like clockwork. Dawn breaks, and light slips quietly across the sky while I tip-toe down the rocky steps, made of natural boulders, and head into the garden’s secret room where bleeding hearts hang down in pink and white droplets next to ferns.
I move past primroses of every color and an early blooming mauve rhododendron which stands tall and stately between pink lenton roses blooming since February. My eyes move quickly. I check for new green tips, hints of life. The rock garden, only a year old but so full of life, bears witness to the lively movement beneath the rich, brown mulch. Every clump of earth displaced by growth pushing up catches my eye. Old stalks of last year’s treasures remain as markers for our keen observation of new life.
I walk past a mound of heather, full and fuzzy in its purple haze.I see the day lilies and their newly formed leaves, lavender stalks which will soon flower, small azalea buds next to open blossoms. Further down I notice sedum which is now high above the ground, happily transforming into the full succulent plant whose blooms will turn from chartreuse to mauve to cinnamon through the coming months. Stems of Asian lilies are rising now on each side of the Japanese Maple. Campanula is green and full and waiting only for warmer sun to burst into purple blossom. The Cape Fuschias surprised me with their evergreen foliage in winter. The greenery in the cold, wet months was a welcome sight. Soon they will be heavy with butter blooming tubes like honeysuckle. Just below them are the orange Hardy Fuschias which will glow like the tips of burning cigars in the summer light. Both will feed the hummingbirds all season. Beneath the outer limits of the apple tree’s limbs the Euonymous shrubs sit with leaves mottled in green and yellow, veined like marble. They move along the lower garden path and bring yellow light to the perennial garden when the daffodils finish their song.
Large boulders dot this landscape, anointing it with status as I move down the path past the rhododendron heavy with buds, beyond the azaleas about to burst into bloom. Along the trail of bearded iris, their foliage tall and green and pointed, I reach the sword ferns and hydrangeas leafing out now, soon to be huge balls of pink, white, lavender, and blue.
My heart is beating faster as I walk. It is thrilling to see the rebirth of this land we own, this land which my husband loves even more than I do. I see his long arms in each shrub, on every tree trunk that stands proudly, now clean and open to the light from its late winter pruning.
I see his sweat in the green flora peeping forth, remember his placing every plant in these gardens last summer. Back to our courtyard, I gaze out over the landscape and remember him creating these gardens from earth and rock, removing tree trunks long dead, digging out a concrete wall buried long ago under soil, unearthing and removing dead roots, pulling weeds, chopping, shaping. These gardens are the diligent work of my husband, his labor a gift to me. I see his love of this land, his pride in the home we have made where we share our lives. It is like a portrait he is painting, done with love and exactness, with design and purpose.
I am awakened by the birth of spring in these gardens and by the love of this man whose hands untangle the plants’ tightened roots to give them life. These are the same hands which hold mine close and safe and nurture me with tenderness. It is time for me to climb back into the warmth of our bed and savor the moments left for sleep.