Shhh! The garden is sleeping sign removed

In the Garden

Ralph Purkhiser, Purdue University Master Gardeners hastened the early daffodils.

During the winter months, there has been a sign at the end of the sidewalk leading to my house that reads, “Shhh! The Garden is sleeping.” After this past weekend, I can say that it is time to put that sign back in storage for a few months. Warm temperatures and sunshine certainly brought the garden back to life. I know that there are freezing temperatures in the forecast, and it may well be a nasty day by the time this appears in print, but the early taste of spring we enjoyed stimulated a lot of life.

I have had blooms of winter aconite, crocus, hellebores and snowdrops for a few weeks, but this latest warmth has hastened the bloom of daffodils and other small bulb flowers. The front yard is now a sea of yellow. Daffodils are pretty tough, so I do not think the return of the cold will hurt them much. They may bow their heads for a while, but a little sunshine will make them stand up again.

Another splash of yellow marks the location of a large vernal witch hazel. It certainly is a favorite of the bees. At one point, I could hardly see the blooms on the plant for the bees that were covering it. The buzz added some sound to the garden. It brought memories of picking witch hazel blossoms for my grandmother, who used them to make a rinse for her hair.

Sound also came from the bog and vernal pond areas, where the peepers have begun tuning up for their spring concerts. That must be one of the happiest songs ever performed.

The gardens have hosted a lot of birds throughout the winter, but the spring songs are more robust. Many of those songs are part of the mating rituals, so there is a lot riding on those tunes.

Perhaps my favorite garden sound is the giggles of my work crew, consisting of Manley, Tymbre and Nautica. They picked up sticks from the garden beds and lawn and broke off last year’s flower stalks between trips down the slide and soaring in the swings. They also received instruction on the proper way to cut flowers to make a bouquet to take home to their mother. I hope that this results in a life-long love of gardening and nature. It is quite possible that I might have completed more clean-up work without such help, but quiet gardens can be pretty lonely.

There is a lot of work to be done. The remnants of last year’s ornamental grasses will need to be cut down and hauled away before the clumps begin greening up again. The wildflower meadow also needs to be mowed off and a few of the raised beds still need to be cleared of last year’s debris.

It will be time to plant peas, as soon as soil temperatures reach 50 degrees. Potatoes may be planted as soon as the ground is workable, or you may opt to grow potatoes in buckets or bins, adding compost as the plants grow. I also need to get busy in the greenhouse, seeding flats for tomatoes, peppers and other transplants.

It can get to be a busy time, but I urge you to not get so busy that you miss the beautiful sights, scents and sounds as the garden awakens. Enjoy your garden with some family or friends. In a world that has gone crazy, a garden is a place to find peace.



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