With this morning’s bright sunshine and blue skies, I am overflowing with April garden thoughts. In fact, I’ve been thinking about this blog post for a couple of weeks ever since my blogging friend, Sonia, of Miss Bloomers, commented about working to enjoy spring on Facebook.
What is it to delight in spring? Do gardeners even know how to enjoy April or are we so busy with our to-do lists that we are blind to the miracles right in front of us?
For gardeners, is spring just a series of to-do lists?
After all, April’s garden thoughts could be anything, couldn’t they? I could list a series of April garden chores and tell you how to do them.
- Finish up trimming back the roses, and don’t forget to feed them. Pruning roses is a bit like parenting teenagers.
- Cut back perennials to new growth. Compost the tired stems unless they are diseased.
- Start seeds for tomatoes, eggplant and peppers, and other warm-weather vegetables.
- Mark empty garden spots for more spring-blooming bulbs like daffodils or tulips.
- Grow an Oklahoma summer vegetable garden.
- Order and plant summer-flowering bulbs like gladiolus, dahlias, etc.
- Quick, sow some spring lettuce or other greens. Radishes too!
- Don’t forget to mulch!
Breathless and not in a good way.
Whew! I feel fairly breathless from that list. If you’re a gardener, I bet you feel anxious in April too. How can we not? There is so much to do, so many seeds to buy and sow, beds to prep, etc. that we can get lost in our busyness. There are also allergies from all of the eastern redcedar trees that stir up our histamines, which can cause seasonal anxiety.
Drop the to-do list and ponder spring’s fleeting beauty.
Instead, I propose we ponder spring’s transient splendor. Watch the light green leaves unfurl in our native trees. It’s a good way to know the last freeze has come and gone. Gaze at the sunlight behind those leaves. Fruit trees and redbuds are finally in flower. They seemed to take forever this year.
Because my blood pressure went a bit nuts last week, I had to slow down, and it’s been good for me. Please don’t worry. I’m fine. We just had to adjust my medication. Since my mother died, it’s been one thing after another.
While I rested I read two books that truly spoke to me and to the quandary of gardeners and spring: Liturgy of the Ordinary Sacred Practices in Everyday Life, by Tish Harrison Warren, and My Grandfather’s Blessings Stories of Strength Refuge and Belonging, by Rachel Naomi Remen. Remen’s grandfather, an orthodox rabbi, saw the entire world as a web of interconnectedness and fearsome beauty. Both books speak to seeing the beauty and blessings in the ordinary, all of which turn out to be extraordinary gifts. Even difficult garden things like Japanese beetles and tomato hornworms.
If we don’t discover the extraordinary garden gifts of spring, when and where will we find them?
At the risk of being preachy, I suggest you sit in your garden with a notepad and think about one thing you really want from it this year. Or, if you’re techier, take your phone out–no, don’t scroll on social media. Instead, open your notes program and dictate what you want to see in your garden. Take a few photos and place those in your notes too. I do this all the time. It’s how I know which bulbs to buy in fall for example.
Then, take a walk.
After you make your notes, take an afternoon where you think you simply must get that latest project finished and go for a 30-minute walk in a garden you don’t tend. Something like Oklahoma City’s Myriad Gardens or Will Rogers Park. It’s good to get out of our chore mentality and just enjoy nature again. My hope is that you’ll return to your own garden refreshed and inspired.
For other inspiration, Carol and I have a new episode on the Gardenangelists’ podcast this week. You can find us almost everywhere these days. Also, I have to give us a small hurrah. Our podcast won 1st in the Podcast Category from the Woman’s Press Club of Indiana Communications Contest. It will now be judged nationally by the National Federation of Press Women.
Again, what do you truly want in your garden this year? Scale down your expectations and breathe.
You have plenty of time to create the garden of your dreams, but you need to build it step by step. Take time to ponder before doing. Remember to rest. Rest followed by hard work and careful attention are the ways to have a successful gardening year.
If you choose to try any of these ideas, please let me know in the comments what you discovered. I’d love to hear.