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Green Acre #235: Itchy for Spring

While LittleBird “Stephanie Gardens” waits for her allium bulbs to spring to life, she teases herself, and us, with an image of a neighbor’s garden from last year. / Photo by Stephanie Cavanaugh.

‘TIS THE SEASON for ants in the pants.

This immediately precedes the season of ants on the kitchen counter. 

I don’t think I’ve thought of that phrase, which my mother regularly employed throughout my childhood, since . . . my childhood. I don’t think I’ve ever said it to Baby. But then she wasn’t a hurried child. Her favorite position was supine. And her rush was . . . never. She’s an artist, her teachers would say when she was late, again, for school—my herculean efforts to roust her as usual having failed.  

“She’s an artist. . . . You can’t rush her,” they’d say, their eyes glowing in that expensive private school teacher way. “Pfft,” said I. “Can’t you just help me to wake her up?” All of that is beside the point.

I have, to return to the subject at hand, ants in the pants for spring. 

The daffodils are just beginning to emerge in the back garden, as are the tulips. Dozens of pink and purple bulbs bought for this spring from Colorblends, a company earning rave reviews. They grow about an inch per day. This is fascinating stuff, sitting and watching plants grow; turn your back for a minute and poof! they’re taller.  

The top branches of the Kwanzan cherry, which tickle the windows of my second-floor sun room/bird chamber/greenhouse are budded. Suddenly the climbing roses are green and leafy. 

If I had a chart of what’s what perhaps I would not have bought two elephant ear bulbs at Costco last week. So happy I was frolicking in the aisles, bulbs the size of cantaloupes, guaranteed to grow to six feet. Am I out of my mind? Where are these supposed to go? I already have six or seven or eight elephant ears, somewhere out back. The six-foot banana and a 10-foot bird of paradise are in the greenhouse, waiting to be placed, along with many, many lower-growing tropicals. I laugh. 

And just where do I expect to put the bags of begonia and caladium bulbs? Sigh. I could not resist. 

There are all sorts of new things in the front garden, If I can just remember  . . .  This is such a mistake, relying on my memory. A couple of decades ago, when Baby was sleeping in, I kept notebooks. Sitting on the back porch with my coffee as the sun rose, I’d jot down what is, and what was, and what went wrong, and what needed to be moved, filled in, tossed out. Each new spring I’d pull out the book from the previous season and know what I was doing, or what I was attempting to do.

Why did I stop?  It would have been particularly useful this spring, as last year I finally did something new with the front garden, essentially a staid bed of ivy and vinca, a well-placed red-leaf maple, two tubs of boring Knockout roses, two never-flowering peonies and a couple of forsythias to screen the front the porch, so I can hide unassaulted by passersby. 

To this, I added iris and calla lilies (I think) and lavender, and am planting lots and lots of allium, 30 (I think), and lunaria, the silver dollar plant that start with billows of purple flowers that become seed pods with skins that peel back to reveal translucent circlets resembling capiz shells. A Carolina jasmine appears to be doing what it’s supposed to do, a scented dance atop the ground cover. Maybe the cosmos and purple poppy seeds I tossed about will happen. Clearly, a notebook would have been handy. 

Last summer I longed for a riot of flowers out front, the only place we possess with sufficient sun. This year that might actually happen. Though, you know, I’ve said that before.  

I’m itching to see what comes up. In the meantime, I’ll clip some branches of the cherry, plunk them in water and watch the glorious double pink flowers bloom a few weeks before their time. 

—Stephanie Cavanaugh

LittleBird “Stephanie Gardens” always has high hopes for spring, bless her.



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One thought on “Green Acre #235: Itchy for Spring

  1. Maggie Hall says:

    Sometimes, quite often, I long for a garden….then I realise, via your column, what a lot of work is involved! And that puts an end to that dream. But so happy you have a front and back garden/yard…..so I can be entertained by your gardening adventures. Thank you.

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