On pruning, delights and joy in troubled times

Beach Meadows, March 29, 2020

Dear Philip,
Thought I’d drop you an end of March update: We live again!  No sooner had I shot off that mid-month report about the sleeping garden when lo and behold, signs of life! The daffodils were poking through the soil and then in the next few days that “Day of the Triffids”  Butterbur (the giant elephant’s ear type plant that we thought was colocasia) was beginning its metamorphosis. Now that is one plant that merits its own photo gallery as it progresses through to summer. No spoiler alerts but watch this space!

L-R, Emergent daffodils and autumn joy sedum and Butterbur making it’s debut

Yesterday had to be one of the most peaceful and beautiful days I have ever spent in Port. It can really be a sleepy village but it was unearthly quiet: Even the softest sounds seemed pronounced and heightened and I loved the horse-like clippity clop of my rubber boots on the road and back in the meadows,  and the subtle rattle and clack of my camera gear, the whole thing a serenade and with no other sound and the sun on me, I was the happiest I’ve been in a long while. And then to see, in that back meadow, clusters of rudbeckia foliage, emergent. It looks as though we will have our black eyed susan meadow…

A gorgeous walk to the meadows and look! Rudbeckia!

I’ve included a photo of tiny spruce saplings rooting in the first meadow. They are so easy to pull out at this stage and when I did this last year, I filled the voids with lupines. No sign of that flower around as of yet but I’ll start plucking the spruce out anyway. We worry about alders encroaching  around these parts (and strangely, they haven’t really caught on in that meadow, happy to just lurk the fringe for now) but those spruce are so opportunistic! 

Opportunistic spruce trees must go!

The roses are almost all pruned. I’ll finish that today, I reckon. You’ll see I cleared our compost heap for easy access and to allow place for the mountain of pruned rose cuttings. You will now be able to wheelbarrow up with ease.

L-R Rugosa pruned, and our scenic garden compost heap, with new and improved easy access

Next week I’ll do a general clean up of the point (winter debris washed ashore) and cut back the Montauk Daisy. I like to leave as much foliage as possible until the temperature is warm enough for burrowing critters to emerge but some things (iris for one) will need to be cleaned up. To that end, I’m enclosing some other photos,  just a reminder of what things look like now because I’m still really digging the bleached out foliage and it will be a thing of winter past any time now.  Things are changing and they are changing very fast!

You didn’t think I’d forgotten about the anemone, did you? Beautiful spent lavender flowers.

Various echinacea

It’s another gorgeous morning and I listened to Krista Tippet’s On Being (NPR Sunday mornings). I hadn’t in a long while for technical reasons and wouldn’t you know, it was a repeat of her interview with poet, english literature professor and community gardener Ross Gay. I’d loved this broadcast when first I heard it and I loved it all over again this morning; so timely. He writes of joy and that it is, as Rilke might say, day labour, meaning it is a purposeful pursuit. I particularly loved the discussion of the word “loitering” (worth a listen:  https://onbeing.org/programs/ross-gay-tending-joy-and-practicing-delight/). It is a pure description of my lolly-gagging, moseying stroll to the meadows in the silence and warm sun yesterday afternoon. Gay also writes of delight and so thank you and Cynthia for the rousing sing-a-long over the phone last evening. Here’s to more verses of My Darling Clementine and She’ll be Comin’ ‘Round the mountain together and in person and soon.

 Yours. Lynn

Maiden grass

Dear Lynn,

You’re torturing me! What a lyrical account and photographs of our awakening garden… It all seems so remote from the horror gripping the world. I don’t know when we can get there from Toronto, and if it’s socially responsible to even try in the current circumstances. I guess all we can do is wait, wait, wait, and see what happens. It’ll be a different garden when we eventually arrive. Meanwhile, I am glad you are so happy.

Pea shrub and star magnolia, ready to bud!

It’s marvelous how the Butterbur develops, breaking the ground in intricate smallness, and quickly developing into big plants with massive bullying  leaves. But, as we know, it spreads relentlessly. What are we going to do about that?

Be gentle with the Montauk Daisy.

Lamb’s Ear, old and new

“ …The sowing- time, when warmth begins to creep

Into the soil, as he who handles earth,

With his bare hand well knows, and, stooping feels

The sun on his bare nape, and as he kneels

On pad of sacking knows the stir of birth…..

So does the good gardener sense propitious time

And sows when seeds may grow

In the warm soil that follows on the rime

And on the breaking frost and on the snow…”

(from “Pruning in March,” by Vita Sackville West, who, by the way, was against pruning roses.)


Scene booster: The Point with lobster boat

4 thoughts on “On pruning, delights and joy in troubled times”

    1. Hi Doug, thanks so much for reading the blog and for your very lovely comments. I can’t wait to stroll your gardens, one of my very favourite places to be. I trust you are out of doors and having as much pleasure as I am, these weird times notwithstanding. Lynn

  1. Lynn, this is very beautiful, the photography, your writing, all of it. What a tonic to look at it, imagining you there and imagining walking beside you as you discover. It is grey sky and concrete in Toronto and we’re locked in our glass box. Thank you thank you.

    1. Cynthia, thank-you for this lovely note. It’s a true wonder, this oasis in the middle of the current maelstrom; nature rearing beauty here and havoc elsewhere at the same time.
      Missing you more than you guys know and trusting you and everyone else in Toronto are doing everything to stay safe and healthy. We will be walking the gardens together
      sometime soon I hope. Lynn

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