When Spring arrives in my Garden!

It is now Spring.  Not by the official date and not by the weather, but by amazing sights that I first saw as a child and did not appreciate. .  Until the last few years here in the Midwest and  while my Mother lived with us, I began to understand the joy of a garden.  Previously, I  never gardened in earnest.   I tried in Arizona, but it was a joke.  I had no idea how to gauge when to plant what plant so that it could live.  All efforts could have been classed as “play” and the results were not very good.

During my adolescent and teen years I never picked up a green thumb on the farm, nor did my Father impart any farming information, particularly if it had anything to do with flowers.    Momma often tried to interest me by letting me pick out annuals to plant and decide in what design a flower bed should be made.  Back then I remembered thinking that picking out plants and designing was okay, but it would be even better if I could be inside making cinnamon  rolls.  It was a fine state for a young person growing up on an Iowa farm and so the years passed and my ignorance of plants continued.

When we first moved  here Momma encouraged me to to make flower gardens and plant as many flowers as I could.  We had already discussed flowers in Arizona before arriving and I had ordered two bush roses and purple day lilies from The Morton Arboreutum  through my sister.  Today I look at those plants and think how lucky I was because I didn’t know how to plant a rose.   I planted them while my Mother was in the hospital that first year and they have beome the most dramatic of all my flowers when they bloom.

The first couple of years she sat on the porch, in the front of the house, while I attempted to turn soil and amend it as well as, planting flowers!!  I was thankful she was there because some days I had no idea what I should do.   Little by little, hint by hint, technique by technique Momma told me how to garden.

Slowly, these stunning sights of Spring were noticed by me in the garden.  They  became more poignant as I told my Mother each day what I had done in the garden.  Momma lay in her bed, with head turned so she could hear every word, would stop me and interject he thoughts, her likes, dislikes and stories about her perennials she left in Iowa.   She often said that the main ingredient to a successful garden was love and then lots elbow grease!

Momma loved all flowers, although her favorite flower was the rose, in particular she was partial to The Abraham Lincoln, deep red rose, a white, Empress rose just tinged in the palest of pink and the very charismatic Yellow tea rose.  Each summer she looked forward to the many bouquets I brought from the gardens, but none of that would not have happened if she didn’t give me her love for making it all happen and appreciate how much a garden of colorful flowers can give you back.

It was  during the second summer Momma started having difficulty getting out to the back yard and all the flowers I had in the back yard were off the patio.  If you sat at the kitchen table you wouldn’t even know those incredible bush roses were there.  Momma missed her flowers and that year I dug up a very large portion of the back yard to make a thirty foot long flower garden that wrapped the patio in a changing, fluid shape perfectly spaced so that when you were at the kitchen table the front border of the garden appeared to be just above the patio wall.

Momma and I shopped many days for flowers to fill up this giant bed, although, she and I decided that a miniature apple tree on each end of the bed would be great.  We chose Macintosh, Momma’s favorite for apple pie, baked apples and canning.  Below one of the apple trees became a huge strawberry patch.  It is the same today and the strawberries, even in the  chilly, “April Showers” are getting ready for their first harvest of fruit and are showing many little white flowers.

Spring came this year not many days ago.  Yes, prior to now there was a premature, weatherman Spring and there was the official start of Spring that was followed by freezing temperatures, snow, sleet, rain, more rain, snow and rain.   Finally, April Showers began, much the same as when I lived on the farm many years ago.  There are days of rain and chill, a sky where clouds then break and warm rays of sun fall across the land, then possibly very windy days or nights are filled  with more rain or fine showers and finally a small group of warm, warm days with bright cumulus clouds up above will arrive.  Yes, it was that way this year and even though I should have been out earlier the gardens are fine!

As I begun my task of cleaning up my garden and yard I began humming an Italian song that my Momma and I always listened to every afternoon, as well as, her other favorite Italian Folk songs.  It wasn’t until after my Momma passed away that I realized what the song, Al Di La, was all about.  Al Di La is a place, far, far above the clouds, that to guess where it is you must follow the sky up and up and weave your way thru the clouds.  Never stop the journey, just keep going as you eye can see.  Then in your heart you have come as close to Al Di La as you can in your life time;  Al Di La is a place where a loved one (one  you miss very much)  waits to guide you on to Paradise,  when you arrive from your final journey.   In the years prior to your arrival, Al Di La, represents to you the reality that you yearn for the past to become real again, although, you admit it can only be the stepping stone for you one day.

I realized why I hummed the song because I felt Momma was there guiding me, up there, far, far above the white, voluminous, cumulus clouds.   At that moment I felt peaceful to know she was there and as I babbled to my garden, I shared everything with her as I always did.

As I chattered on,  I first pruned the dead, perennial stalks and uncovered the little roses from their insulation of Canadian Peat Moss.  Next, as I worked from one side of the first bed to the other cleaning off leaves and as I did the Spring came to me.  There, under the debris,  were the center of my perennials with  tiny shoots of new life.  In my way, they greeted me and we had our  first individual chats for the season.

They are Spring, the little hidden,  leaves signaling new life   When I was finished all of the plants had little faces, smiling upward.  The next day, after a night rain, I went back to the big bed and found that even more Spring had arrived for me.  The rain had allowed the little leaves and stalks to triple their size overnight.  They are amazing,  they have returned to me one more year to please and bring color and texture to my garden.

Momma knew all this and simply gave me some hints, or told a story, as she imparted her knowledge of gardening to me.  Now Momma still guides my hand as she watches far, far above the white, voluminous,  cumulus clouds in a place that is called Al Di La.


10 thoughts on “When Spring arrives in my Garden!

  1. Frank,
    There were times this past winter that I doubted that I would ever love the things that I once did. But, like the perennials, there is life where the old growth once lived. I smiled when I saw the shoots of the hostas push up through the cold ground. I still love my flowers
    Like you, I have learned to love the color of flowers and my thrist for their beauty just can’t seem to be satisfied.
    I have many things to do this spring and one of them is Dan’s memorial garden. Sorry to say, but the tree we planted the day he died doesn’t look like it survived. He leafed out and then the leaves all withered and died this past week…don’t know just what to do as yet. I will let it stay as it is for now with the hope that it may regenerate.
    I am grateful for this spring like no other.
    I can see your mother looking over your shoulder as you prepare her “beauties” for the coming season. It is a picture of peace.
    Pictures, Frank. I need pictures…
    PS. I put the little roses outside in a temporary home (a huge pot) so that they can benefit from the warm sun and cool spring temps…so far, they have bloomed their heads off…*smile*
    Thank your mother for me for giving you so much knowledge. Thank you for your willingness to share
    Happy Spring, my friend.


    1. Yes, to see the little heads come up is one of the wonders I love. Was the tree you planted for Dan a Japanese Maple? It seems like it was you who had one, but I may be mistaken. I planted one last year, a fairly expensive one and now it is dead, dead, dead. I am going to replace it with a Burning Bush which gets quite tall. Enough delicate little trees. I am so happy your little friends have bloomed and bloomed. see I told you that you would have a great little plant because of your care!! We all worry though over what we grow!. I shall thank Momma for you and ask her to place her little hand on yours as you go about gardening this spring. She will help you as she has helped me!! My best to you my dear friend.


  2. It was a Japanese Maple…I nutured it from a tiny start in Dan’s parent’s front yard. It was about 2 feet when we planted it and not, it is so sad looking…do you think it will recover or is it Kapoot?


    1. Well I hate to say this but I bet it bit the kapoot–just like mine!! I am going to plant a burning bush now–they get big and very beautiful in the fall. Just an idea–Frank


  3. I so love gardening and playing in the dirt and I’m afraid this year just isn’t going to be my year for planting unfortunately. So I will simply enjoy the perennials as they arrive and pray that next spring I will be healthy enough to get out in that dirt and once again play to my heart’s content. Love your notes on Twitter! Hugs!


    1. Linda, I feel so badly for you and your shoulder and then your back. I hope all is going to go well for you soon. I will say a few prayers for you. Take it easy and keep me posted how you are doing–well I will see if you are twittering.


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