Home & Design

Green Acre #471: Happy and Sad About Spring

Spring, sprung! / Photo by Stephanie Cavanaugh.

By Stephanie Cavanaugh

I’M ON THE back porch drinking in the Kwanzan cherry blossoms, which have just passed their peak. The tree is still dense with flowers, but the petals are starting to fall, like pink snow, along the garden path. There are masses of overblown tulips as well, mainly pale yellow. I don’t know how that happened. I would never deliberately plant yellow flowers. But they are pretty. Like shot glasses of lemonade. I drink them in too. 

This moment in spring is a love-hate thing. So brief is the splendid mass of color—the tree an umbrella over the entire garden and up to the second-story roof line, the tulips tucked into the greenery that covers the twin garden beds. In a few days it will be gone and all that will be left is shade. Though the ferns and hydrangeas are promising a big show, they don’t have the jelly-bean sweetness of the early flowers. 

That was then. Now she’s 40. / Family photo.

Baby turned 40 yesterday, which also makes me happy and sad. I’ve loved every minute of her, from the moment after her (excruciating) emergence, when they popped her in the bin beside my bed and she stared at me with her big blue eyes. Hello, baby! Hello, Mama. She was that calm.

In the middle of the night, when all of the other infants were brought to their mothers for feeding, I was alone. Waddling to the nursery window in a bit of a panic, I said, Where is my baby

The nurse said, Shhh, she’s sleeping. 

I say and say, if I could have one of her every year—pain be damned—there wasn’t a one that was less than a joy. She’s beautiful, smart, talented in so many ways, and most of all: loyal and kind. I don’t know where she got the kind part. Oh, she’s still a sleeper, too.

She’s also a flower child. I’m not going to call her a gardener, because her gardening, like mine, is a lot of waving the arms around and having someone else do the planting. My Prince, usually, even though she has a fine prince of her own. Daddy will always help.

Ask her what she wants for her birthday and she says, plants. Luckily, her garden in Virginia is large and features both sun and shade, so she can have whatever she fancies. Peonies, begonias, lilies, hosta, roses, jasmine, hibiscus, dogwood, cherry trees. I do envy that. She picks flowers for me. 

Speaking of My Prince. He has just bought me some astilbes. I used to buy a few each year, pink and purple plumes, like exotic feathers, perking up the shady spots in the early spring garden. When the plumes turned brown (too soon! too soon!), I’d take out the spray paint and color them up, which took them through fall. Try it. I swear you’ll forget that it’s paint, and no one will notice anything but happy flowers.

Unlike Baby, when you have a little patch of garden and no space to waste, you make do, and spray paint can be a blessing. A plug here for Design Master’s Colortool Spray, which will not harm plants—and is great for fading and dead flowers (like hydrangea) that retain their shapes and can stay on plants for months, and grasses that turn brown in fall but don’t need to be lopped to the ground until early spring. 


One thought on “Green Acre #471: Happy and Sad About Spring

  1. Carol says:

    Beautiful acknowledgement of a treasure!

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