Sentinels of spring
When I looked this morning, I saw three of The Girls — as our six laying hens are known because they all look exactly alike – standing like statues on three big pots. The pots form a barrier at the edge of the concrete cliff that is our patio.
This is not exactly earth-shaking news.
It did make me smile, though. Why were they standing on the pots, all of them facing away from the house? It was as if they’d taken it upon themselves act as sentinels, hoping to spot enemy agents sculking down the narrow streets between the motley collection of small, elderly houses that make up the old part of town.
You go, Girls.
The pots are full of bulbs that haven’t sent up greenery yet, which is why the hens could stand unhindered on the soil with such eagle-eyed intensity.
See, Mr. Wren is a Master Gardener. He’s into bulb flowers. I’m on the fence when it comes to daffodils, tulips, day lilies and the like. The flowers are gorgeous when they bloom, no argument there, but during the other 11 months and two weeks of the year, I find the foliage first boring, then downright ugly as the leaves and stalks wither and die after the blooms have gone. As decorative pot-fillers, they fall short.
Yes, the various types bloom at different times of the year. This makes up for the dead foliage, in Mr. Wren’s estimation. There’s always something blooming. Of course, there’s always something in various stages of decay, as well. Can you tell which one of us thinks the glass is half-empty?
For instance, the daffodils in the bed by the driveway are well into their third week as cheery yellow harbingers of spring, but I noticed yesterday that more than a few of them are looking a little depressed. (It could be because they were buried under a foot of snow – again – this week.) Pretty soon they’ll look like dead daffies. But woe be unto the amateur gardener (me) who even thinks of, well, removing the dead bits. Mr. Wren believes fervently in an organic garden, and all those shriveled, brown, bladey leaves will eventually dissolve into the soil, making it even more nutritious for future generations of daffodils.
Our gardens do not look like those at your local horticultural centers. Ours look … messy. Especially right now at the butt-end of winter.
In the summer, though, when everything has leafed out and all the flowering plants are flowering madly, the gardens are a cacophony of color filled with humming bees on a mission. If you don’t look too hard, you won’t notice the legions of weeds, particularly if they flower. Last summer, a giant thistle of the Scottish variety grew up to a height of roughly five feet, looking like a thorny alien next to the drive. Then the thistles bloomed, huge, purple, most unusual. I liked it.
So did the birds. I’m confident that this summer, there will be fifty, maybe sixty Scotch thistles in various parts of the garden.
I must buy bagpipes.