April is a pivotal month. The anticipation is now over. Whether you are itching to get started on those ambitious plans you have been dreaming of all winter, or simply bringing things back into shape, it is full of tasks and decisions.
It has been a time of exuberance for me — seeing that nearly all the new plants came back, save for a few siberian irises. And simultaneously, the race — especially if you have large and untamed areas — to decide whether to clean them up and to what extent, or gently manage the existing state. For us and the invasives battle, it’s a continual project. The pace of growth does not stop.
It has been a relief to see other gardeners express the same sense of being occasionally overwhelmed, too. A post from one of our local arboretums about a woman who pulled 100 garlic mustard plants every morning before breakfast helped me realize I was not alone in dealing with this issue. It’s now a morning routine to get out early and do a little bit just about every day, including dealing with a massive amount of garlic mustard this year. It’s a biennial and I shouldn’t be surprised that in the front woodland –where we removed hackelia virginiana (beggar’s lice), then stilt grass — that this would now appear.
The garden is coming along slowly and it’s hard to take landscape photos — there are so many new or transitioning items, it makes for an odd mishmosh. I do think of it like creating a painting, just one that changes over time. The important thing to remember is to not be too hard on oneself. Gardening is not on par with saving a life, or being responsible for a young child or elderly parent. It’s something to bring joy, beauty, and perhaps a little bit of peace. That might be the enjoyment of doing tasks or sitting back and taking it all in during a quiet (or not-so-quiet) moment. And yes, challenges abound. That’s the puzzle. And that’s the fun.
I will end with a few random notes. First, as much as I was originally hesitant to watch it, Gardener’s World has been growing on me. When it was originally recommended to me, I didn’t think a program aimed a broad swath of gardening enthusiasts would appeal to me. What first hooked me — the camera work is exquisite. And there is always some nugget that’s interesting. A glimpse of a gabion wall during a feature on on something entirely different has given me some food for thought on how to put the abundance of large rocks around the property to work and add interesting design elements. Or seeing how coir mat was used to grow and transport an entire meadow. A genius ideas to deal with some very real-life problems for us — perhaps some day.
It goes without saying that Monty Don and the adorable presence of Nigel and Nell make the show. He lets us into his lovely gardens at Longmeadow and his process for approaching all kinds of tasks. I appreciate his approach and manner, and even his garden attire! It makes me feel better about my odd but comfortable clothing and rubber boots. And all the tidbits, from how to put those horrible plastic pots to good use to growing potatoes in containers. I will have to try that, given all the black walnuts.
The second note is about changing garden tastes. Given the length of this post, I’ll save that for another day.