The birds are very busy steadfastly scouting locations for their nests and building them. They are not bothered by my presence nor by my cat as she stalks a vole under the low boughs of the Colorado Spruce. The sap is rising; the buds are swelling and life is returning to the tips of the apple and pear trees. The ruby red calyxes dripping off every twig crown the ‘Red Sunset’ maples with a regal garment of majesty.
I trim last years stalks down to the base of the peonies and discover plump burgundy sprouts waiting to make their run to the sky. Once released from the dark womb of creation the sovereign Paeonia surges growth of incomparable speed as it must burst its beauteous explosion of voluptuous bounty for all to see. My heart expands with the joy of the promise of its magnificently rich buxom blossoms.
Another aristocrat is already showing off her pristine stellated tutu of white. Lucky for her, Royal Star Stellata Magnolia, may actually get to pirouette and dance an entire month to entice the bees before a notorious Colorado spring snow deflates her. She is offering a very special gift this year, as I cannot remember a year when she has so enthusiastically displayed such a flourishing abundance of bloom. I feel her thankfulness for the years of appreciation of her splendor and for tending to her needs.
It is a bittersweet pang of nostalgia and gratitude I feel for every being in this garden that has taught me and nurtured my growth. In a few short months, I will be leaving this garden and moving on.
When I first came to this land, it was barren of trees and shrubs. Sloping down to the south, a split rail fence fringed the property line before sharply falling to an open space meadow filled with cattails and grasses skirting a wending farmers canal. Delicate native Prickly White Poppy wove and wildly interlaced itself between lush grasses. It was glorious in its natural state and I could envision the home I had designed snugly nestled into it. Purchasing and inhabiting the land began a new adventure.
One day while our home was being built, my three-year-old daughter and her dad went for a walk in our established Denver neighborhood and gathered maple wing seeds. They put them in pots and placed them safely under the immense spread of the canopy of the old lilac shrub. Early settlers brought this old fashioned variety from the mid west to the region; its fragrance and lavender color are legendary. The maple seeds sprouted and grew into long thin stems. We were amazed to discover that lilacs had also seeded themselves into the pots. They grew full and lush as the months passed. Finally, it was time to transport them to their new home. Gently teasing the roots apart, the maples and lilacs became the first plants to settle into the new land.
Plans and visions emerged. “What a gift; here is land that I get to touch with the joy and beauty I envision.” Tedious hours spent tilling, shaping the land, building beds, amending the soil with compost, planting, cultivating and tending bestow an ever changing harmony of creation. The land is imprinted with the memory of each creature, plant and being that dwells and dies here. What unfolds is more than a place for my artistic expression. Nature has her own desires. Plants grow, some thrive, some die, some become sentinels sheltering newbies and providing rich humus for wild vagabonds to join the community. One of the beloved seed grown maples grows into a glorious beauty stretching her arms out and shading the dining room window through many summers. An infamous spring storm dashes through bringing heavy wet snow breaking her main trunk. We mourn her passing not only for her greatness but also for the loss of not realizing the future legacy of seeing her grow into old age, which was the sacred intention of the child and father that planted those seeds. Yet, surprisingly the thin weak looking straggly maple at the back of the yard from those same seeds takes on the job of being the sole survivor and grows into the tallest tree on the property. He slowly and patiently rises straight and tall before opening his arms outward as if a germ of wisdom calculated the angle and thickness of branches needed to bear the weight of wet snow in order to minimize the risk. He still stands…for now.
Another prized tree, a sweet Cherry, grows a very thick shiny rust colored trunk with equally large shiny leaves. She is radiant. Her elegant globe lights up with brilliant cherry orbs capturing the attention of hungry eyes. The birds check on the ripening berries each spring day, tasting them and spitting out the sour ones. The ground is littered with the debris. We are happy to savor the sweet ones the flocks have left on the lower branches.
Unfortunately for the birds, and us, at twenty-two years her life ended abruptly. High temperatures in November preceded a dramatic freezing drop. Many fruit trees, including cherries and plums, had not gone dormant; their sap froze, swelled and burst the walls supplying life-giving nutrition. Months later, it was painful to see her brittle bare branches when all of the other trees were green with life. It took some time to remove her as our hearts wept. In her place a red twig dogwood gallantly and courageously planted itself, mirroring the shiny rouge of her bark.
Hardier species of evergreens, trees, and plants continue to adapt and bear the brutal force of nature’s onslaught along with nature’s abundant grace. With every plant that dies, a new one makes its entrance. Drifts of enchanting species emerge, make a bold appearance and have their day. Just like life, the garden is an ever-changing, self-renewing kaleidoscope.
It All Adds up to Love of Home