Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Where Spring Unfurls

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Where Spring Unfurls

Article excerpt

Two and a half seasons of constant yard work commence, as Nature sorely needs a helping hand in our suburban garden.

The clouds part, the sun pokes through, and slowly rising up through the embattled earth comes spring. When it swings into motion, I actually breathe easier, though it means work.

The tangled Akabia quinata vine on the window railing puts out bunches of five green leaves and dangles white pink spheres that will be flowers with a chocolate odor. It takes some trimming already, and will annoy me to no end until roughly Christmas, needing ever more snips and yanks to get the overgrowth out.

Two and a half seasons of constant yard work commence, as Nature sorely needs a helping hand in our rather tired suburban garden.

My son urges me out of doors, extolling the virtues of Vitamin D, which evidently will put us straight into a good mood. There is so much to do we just stand there for a while, thinking hard on it.

On the north side of the yard, we trim the lower branches of the Ligustrum japonicum, freeing it to climb into treelike form. We straighten the little olive tree, which had sagged west, and add ashes from the woodstove at its foot. We thin the bamboo after some canes had grown so tall they were scraping the eave at night, briefly convincing us that we had mice in the attic or that the evil marten had returned.

Out back, to the east, I sing the praises of the neighbor who lopped her chestnut and walnut last fall, opening up an avenue of light to kickstart the hedge of photinias and live oak. Out front, to the west, our 25-year-old Japanese maple, soaring elegantly, sports hard, red buds that will soon open to cast seven months of cool shade. And in that cool paradise, a forest of Pieris japonica shrubs will flourish, first putting out bright red leaves, then settling in for a rich summer in which undergrowth regales. Just now the witch hazel is shedding its spiky orange winter flowers.

Life teems here. …

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