spring daffodil, transplanted and still blooming, cinthia milner

5 Things To Do Now That It is Spring

It is spring.

Well, officially at 6:45 p.m. today, but feel free to go ahead and celebrate. It’s been one doozy of a winter.

My co-worker, plant affascinato-partner-in-crime, dance partner (yes, we silly dance), and all round goof-ball of a friend, Carol, made the comment yesterday that you sure were sick a lot this winter. Oh my. Truth in spades.

The flu and grey skies. Who’s excited for spring? Me too.

But, I insist we hit the pause button before spring-fever begets spring-fervor.

Here’s why:

I’m going to call it spring-panic. Each spring my clients go into full-on spring-panic mode. One sweet woman texted yesterday to tell me that here it is 70 degrees and I have not pruned one rose bush, not even one. She only has two. I refrained from asking her if she had power-washed the deck yet.

Spring brings with it a load of chores, some necessary, most not. So, before you start making your list and checking it twice, here’s my spring to-dos for my clients. See what you think.

1. Acknowledge. Don’t dive into those spring projects without stopping to acknowledge the season. Don’t miss it. Pick daffodils, get your vitamin D by being outside, listen to the birds chirping, notice the mint-green leaves budding out on trees. No one is promised tomorrow. Today is the blessing. Be blessed by sunshine and spring rains and spring bulbs. Stroll. Spring is simply made for strolling. So, stroll and be blessed by the sweetness of the season.

Because maybe, your winter was a doozy, too.

2. Delete. Double check that chore list. Do you really need to do all that? This may not be the year you start a vegetable garden, or a new landscape plan, or decide 100 baby chickens is a good idea. So, get your pen out, and cross something(s) off that to-do list.

Listen to me: You don’t have to do it all.

3. Delegate. Even if it means getting your check-book out. My newly-divorced friend is hiring the mow-blow-and-go guys to do her yard this summer because, well, she’s not superwoman. And, neither are you. Help the local economy out, hire someone to do some of those chores, and free up some time for fun. For what? FUN.

The whole DIY thing is so over-rated.

4. Add. Like I said, FUN. Add it to your list. And, just so you know, fun can be porch-sitting with a glass of tea, reading a book, or taking a nap. Fun doesn’t have to be glamorous. Plan a weekend trip to nowhere, or a day trip to a pretty garden. And, while you’re at that pretty garden, do not say, not even once, I wish my garden looked like this, just enjoy the garden and go home.

Definition of fun: restorative, not exhausting or expensive.

5. Breathe. Open a window, sit on a porch, sit in your car with the windows down, or take a walk, but remember to breathe in the fresh spring air. How sweet is that smell? Relax your shoulders, un-crunch that neck, and breathe. A friend of mine used to say that while we shouldn’t smoke, we should do what smokers do; take breaks and breathe.

Bag the chore list (chores aren’t going anywhere) and breathe in spring.

Now, let the spring-panic subside, and oh yeah, feel free to stop by the store to silly dance with Carol and I. What else have you got to do?


Encore Azaleas

Why I Hate Encore Azaleas

Here’s why I hate Encore azaleas: They are, for me, the cheerleaders of this whole bloom-all-dang-summer long mentality. How can a gardener hate that, you ask? Read on.

I remember my grandmother’s azaleas coming into bloom and her comment that always followed that event, “Corn soon.” She meant it wouldn’t be much longer before she’d be planting corn. The azaleas were in bloom, summer was around the corner. She told time through the seasonal blooming of plants. Frost on the pumpkins? Get the gourds off the vines. Forsythias in bloom? Get the pruners ready for the roses.

This bloom, bloom, bloom business takes away from the anticipation of what’s happening, or will happen in the garden.

My cherry trees are spectacular in spring, and because I know they have a short bloom time, I take my chair, I go outside, and I sit. I don’t miss it. Last year, the youngest son and myself spent most of the spring in the back yard, chairs perched under those trees (their canopies cover the entire back yard). When the blooms fell off and covered the ground to look like snow, we sat there still. It was a symphony of beauty, dazzling us in the backyard, from the first crack of a bud, to the final drop of the last bloom. No, I don’t want those trees blooming all summer because then the symphony would start to wane, and like the mountains that surround my home, I’d take it for granted. They would be like paint on the wall. Pretty, but background.

Some of you will argue that if plants re-bloom, then you can be assured of bloom.  The point is that some plants bloom on old wood, which is why you don’t prune them in the fall or early spring (you do so after blooming). These plants are susceptible to spring frost killing the buds, and there goes your bloom for that year.

I think that argument pales, too. You know how we all remember the Blizzard of 93? We also remember the year the cherry trees did not bloom, and yes, it was sad. But again, it is another way we tell time. That year was a harsh spring, but the next one made up for it. Like the fall leaves. One year stunning, the next not really. We talk about it. We remember life events surrounding it.

There is an organic relationship between the seasonal blooming of plants and the moments of our lives. 

Here’s my final thought on it. Allowing nature to be nature gives us a rhythm to life that well, in my book, lets us stop, look, breath. Nature creates something for us to see, to gaze upon, like a blooming cherry tree, and in so doing, it creates a space we can enter into and be. That space becomes a moment. We tell time by the moments of our lives. How do we ever think that is not enough?