FINALLY, some green...healthy crop of daffodils

I hate being asked "what's your favorite season?" because it is SO HARD to choose. I feel like every season has something to offer -- Fall has crisp air and sweaters and gorgeous leaves; Summer has the heat I hate but summer break and ample time for gardening; Winter has gorgeous sparkling snow and coziness inside (fires! blankets! candles! reading while the wind howls outside!). But right now, Spring has my heart. 

I love, love, love when winter turns a corner and the Greening starts. First the twigs start looking kind of green, then the tiny leaves come out on shrubs, and the buds are clearly visible on trees. 

And my favorite part -- the freshly thawed earth, blanketed in last year's leaves and dead stalks, all brown and dead-looking...except for the little green shoots that pop up. It seems like overnight I can see my little garden lovelies poking their (heads?) leaves up and reminding us that the season of gray and brown is almost over. 

It's Spring Break as of Friday afternoon, and I am just pickled to be off. To have some time to Of course the weather is not planning on cooperating, and while yesterday was gorgeous (sunny and mid-60s), today is rainy and IT'S SUPPOSED TO SNOW MONDAY AND THURSDAY. It's pretty much a guarantee that if I clear some of the leaf litter from my plants, the snow will come again. Hopefully it's not the kind that sticks. BUT, Tuesday is supposed to be in the 70s and sunny. So that will be a big weeding and planting day, as some of the bare root plants I ordered have come in. 

Yesterday was pretty much a cleanup day. I got a folding pruning saw for Christmas, and it is AMAZING. One of my gardening goals for this week is to trim up the zillions of persistent vines and honeysuckle that take over everything. This area is a haven for all things invasive and poisonous, and so there's honeysuckle (which sounds lovely and it's great when it blooms and the berries come out, but it SPREADS LIKE MAD and there's way too much of it), and autumn olive (super persistent shrub-tree that sends up about 20 suckers per trunk as soon as it gets warmer, very very hard to get rid of), and Virginia Creeper, and grapevines, and wild black raspberries (which are delicious when they fruit but treacherous the rest of the time as they are quite stabby and spread like mad and create strange croquet hoops as they root in the ground at both ends), and poison ivy. TONS of poison ivy. I'm hoping it's dormant right now because I've been all over where it likes to live. 

The vines are the worst, though. They attach to everything and weigh tree branches down. They have killed a fair number of trees in our area because they cover them and smother them and then you get sad skeletal trunks with hairy vines all over them until they fall. I look out my office window and can see the evil vines taking over a sapling cherry tree, and there's an area where I've wanted to make a little path, so I took my pruning saw and my loppers and WENT TO TOWN. 

Hill garden on the left, birdbath garden on the right, and you can sort of see the trail I've started. This is not a "Before" picture, I forgot to take one yesterday. 

You can see the "trail" better here... still far to go! Also this is today, when torrential rain foiled my plans to weed and plant bare roots. 

I always forget that it's hard work to pull vines down and out of areas and to prune honeysuckles, but for all that hard work, there's the hauling of the vines and branches down to our brush pile. SO MUCH BRUSH. 

But by the end of the day, there were also so many hints of my gardens to come poking up out of the ground: 

"Onyx & Pearls" penstemon poking up

Minnow daffodils poking up on the driveway hillside

Hellebores starting to bud up out of last year's dead leaves

Narrowleaf mountain mint poking up, spreading nicely (mint of any kind is a spreader)

My "Royal Wedding" oriental poppies are coming up! They were too new to flower last year.

Starship Deep Rose lobelia (cardinal flower)... looks like an alien fungus but those are leaves!

These tiny leaves will become purple Grecian Windflowers

Spring shows that persistence has two sides, which I know from my experiences with infertility. There's the vine side -- they grasp and hold on and don't let go, but they take down everything around them. They are singular in their focus and destructive, even though you have to admire their tenacity. It's not good to hang on to something if it results in a choke hold. And then there's the flower side -- every year these plants die and are reborn. They come up through leaf litter (poisonous walnut leaf litter in my case, of course), through snow, through frozen ground. They survive spring snowstorms and frosts. They poke up anyway, and enjoy their time in the sun. And maybe end up deer food, but sometimes surviving a deer pruning results in a bushier, healthier plant. 

I've been both types of persistent, but I want to be the flower kind most. I feel like this new life we are building for ourselves has been like coming out of an extra-long winter, unfurling our leaves and buds, and getting ready to bask in the sun whether or not the frosty snow showers try to get us down. 


  1. Two kinds of persistence... What an awesome thought! Yes, I have very much experienced the vine kind, grasping and holding on to the point of killing my spirit. And I feel like I am beginning to experience the flower kind. I planted so many seeds for my "new" life and I feel like they've survived the frost and are starting to peek their heads above ground... Oh, I love this metaphor! Thank you Jess. And thank you always for your pictures too. I love them.

  2. Oh wow, Jess, I love love LOVE your spring analogy. The vines hanging on at all costs, and the flowers - dying a little death then being reborn.

    Also, any blog post that has the words "and WENT TO TOWN" is a good one in my book! I haven't heard that phrase in a long time, and you made me smile on this rainy autumn day.

  3. How exciting! Spring is my favourite season for sure. I have nothing approaching your gardening instincts, but I did plant bulbs in the fall, both with the kids at home and with the students at school. This week I saw shoots, which is super exciting and a relief as I thought there was a chance nothing would come up at all lol.

    Also, “hellbore” is a super funny name. It sounds like it should be a new curse word or something.

  4. Well, that's a brilliant metaphor. I'll be thinking about these two types of persistence all weekend, if not beyond.

    I've long had the sense that any place infused with your energy is a magical place.

  5. You're right! I don't like trying to choose a "favourite" season either, because each one has its great points and drawbacks. But I am loving spring right now too (even though I am in no way the gardener you are! lol). And I love your analogy too! :)