As bleak as the winter and spring have been in the garden, the summer appears to be making up for it. We have long since cut down and dug up all the dead plants, the roses and butterfly bushes, letting the existing perennials and opportunistic annuals take their place. A few, like the fig tree and most of the hydrangea, made it through the winter bruised but not beaten. Small tough shoots have emerged from their root balls and lower stems in an attempt to make up for the effects of a cold winter and spring.
But what has made it through this summer is glorious. It is as if the seasonal hardships have steeled the grounds and made everything pop with life.
While late, the asparagus came up plentiful and regular for three weeks before we stopped harvesting. Now fine leafy green shoots are feeding the roots for next years dishes. The same was true of the rhubarb giving us ample material for pies, cakes and a bit of chutney.
The blueberry bushes look to deliver their biggest harvest in a few weeks as now they hold masses of green tiny berries, some with the slightest hint of blue, like grapes on the vine. And the raspberries, thimbleberries and blackberries are full of buds and flowers.
It is, however, the perennial boarders that impress the most. The clematis have exploded with flowers on the fence as has the honeysuckle, which sits like a giant pink and green derby on the corner of the fence. The spring bulbs, long since gone, have long leafy reminders of their blooms still working to feed their buried potentials. The tulips differ in this case, which being the most showy of their lot explode with flowers and color and then die back quickly to corn-like stalks of silage.
On the right and left extremes of the back yard, hostas have emerged to cover all the spaces leaving little trace of soil or leaf litter. Their leaves have become enlarged like that of elephant ears but with more variegation, color and size. Below their canopy sweet woodruff and vinca attempt to grab as much landscape as they can. A lone hydrangea attempts to make its way through the crowd to catch a little sun.
While the death of a white birch in the back has left a bit of a hole, it is hard to tell as astilbe, thimbleberry and a few opportunistic hobble-bush viburnum have made the open spaces their home. The thimbleberry bushes have become a bit too thick in the back covering a few rhododendrons and hostas. Though I often prefer the hand of nature to form these spaces, I may need to assert a bit of my will.
Behind the boarder has emerged a hill of self-seeding foxgloves, grasses, mini-spruces, raspberries, day lilies and irises. This opportunity emerged a few years ago when storms and age toppled a few large ashes and a singular maple whose canopies blanketed the hill in darkness. With a soft morning dappled light, this new amphitheater of plants is a large contrast to its barren, shadowed neighbors where only a few ferns emerge from the gray and brown leafy loam.
Even the lawn, my largest albeit least cared for space, is doing well. Last year's barren spots have been filled in with fescue, wild strawberries, thyme and a low grass that fills the spaces nicely. Broadleaf weeds reside but in populations that are reasonable so that their absence in the fall and winter doesn't leave easy-to-erode bald spots.
The window boxes of annuals are lush and the vegetable garden full of food. We sit on the back patio in wonder, fortunate with our luck.