Lilah, pictured above, oversees the garden as the temperature climbs towards 90 degrees. She appears to be sleeping, but listens as the garden teaches.
It’s not that unusual for us to go from blustery, gray, chill and damp directly to summer. But this year the perennials are more confused than usual. A feast for the eyes and soul, a grand allergy provocation (all those grass and tree pollens.) The sixty-foot Linden tree that anchors our property and shades the house is barely budding. Yet blooming all at once, we have, left to right:
Row 1 Jack-in-the Pulpit, Goldenseal, Solomon’s Seal
Row 2: Pulsatilla, Dwarf Comfrey, Greater Celandine
Row 3: Senencio, Cramp Bark, Apple
Row 4: Lenten Rose, Horny Goat’s Weed, Tiarella
We began populating our city lot with perennials and medicinals several decades ago.
In 2009 we studied how the water ran, the sun moved, the winds blew, the soil clumped or didn’t – and began applying permaculture principles. We dug up and sheet-mulched vast swaths of lawn and added medicinal trees and shrubs: Fringetree, Vitex, Witch Hazel. We put a bamboo-management plan in place. We added a couple of apple trees and a fig to the venerable grapevines planted by an earlier owner. We’ve drawn back the no-longer common swallowtail caterpillars and gold-finches. The neighborhood fox. And many curious neighbors.
Some plants have flourished, some are just hanging on, many others did not survive.
The garden teaches
1. Not everything blooms where it is planted.
2. Not everything blooms.
3. Living things do not mature at the same rate.
4. Some parts of the same living thing may mature while other parts remain stunted.
5. It is wise to feed the roots.
6. A tree shaped by storm damage (aka Life) is no less beautiful than before.