Alabama

Deep Southern Gardening: A Welcome Spring

When the first day of spring came last week, I was very glad. I really don’t like winter, and the assorted colors of budding and blooming tell me that it’s spring in a more significant way than a calendar ever can. I known it’s spring when I see the outfield flowers, and when the red wildflowers show up in patches along our interstate exits. (I also know it’s spring when my little white car becomes yellow, and my raspy throat won’t give me any peace.)

Thankfully, I don’t think that the severe cold last winter killed any of my plants. The only problems I’m having right now are the fat buzzy bees dive-bombing me when I get to close to the wisteria and I think that the squirrels have stolen the caladium bulbs from one of my planters. Otherwise everything seems fine. The azaleas are in full bloom!

azaleas

The quince buds are dropping off and the leaves are coming out.

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The wisteria are coming out . . .

wisteria

and the hydrangeas clearly survived.

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The crocosmia at the foot of my big pecan tree are coming up, but haven’t bloomed yet.

crocosmia

The loropetalum plant that I’m pruning to look like one of Dr. Seuss’s truffula trees is in full bloom.

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And the dogwood right by it is, too.

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My entire yard, front and back, are covered in these weedy little flowers. I’ve never known what these are called. I just think of them as the flowers that little kids pick for their moms.

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And these little flowers have come up in one small patch in the middle of my backyard for the first time. I don’t what they are either.

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Being able to get out in the yard is a welcome diversion from my day-to-day toil. Unlike writing, which can keep me in my cramped, low-ceilinged office and out of the sun, working in my gardens gets me out in the fresh air.  I also like it because, unlike my students and my children, plants never talk back or complain or prattle on about what isn’t fair— can you imagine: Don’t plant me here! Don’t prune me like that! I’ve heard it said that writers, especially poets, tend to like gardening because it allows us to bring order to nature and make something even more beautiful out of what already exists. Maybe that’s true, I don’t know; I grew up doing yard work and it’s something that I can’t imagine living without.

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