Getting off the plane from Phoenix on Friday morning it seemed as if we entered a different world. The morning was cool and wet rather than the hot and dry weather we had become used to over the prior week. But the most remarkable thing about our return was the transformation of the landscape. Prior to our leaving, there had been a good amount of rain and our departure was timed with a heat spell that put our local temps in the 80s. I had thought that the leaves would begin to pop and a few flowers would begin to emerge in our absence.
I was wrong. We went from winter to summer.
When we left, there were a few buds on the trees. The forsythia had a good amount of yellow flowers and the daffodills had just started to make a show. The grass in my yard was mostly brown with a few stubborn shoots of green and the dandelion leaves started to become obvious.
When we arrived at home, the grass was fully green, the lawn thick in need of cutting. The tulips were in full bloom and the daffodils were spent. Garlic mustard went from tiny little rosettes to bolted beauties ready to be pollinated. The redbud and crabapple trees were in full flower as were the quince bushes with large garish red blooms. Rather than take a nap, I started to work in the yard as it was supposed to rain over the weekend, which would further put me behind in taming an unruly yard. An anticipated rest turned into an afternoon of gardening.
The first cut of the year is always easy as only a few tuffs of grass have sprouted high. The mower bumps along the lawn, careening over the uneven yard. Baby shoots from seeds that had been broadcasted a few weeks prior emerge between the space-filling straw-colored thatch. I set the blades high so they do not cut the violets that are flowering. I navigate around the swamp marigolds, leaving their mounds to flower later in the month. The wild strawberries hug the soil, below the blades. The unruly ground is now trim and even.
The paths and gardens need much weeding as escapee ferns, flowers, bulbs have intruded. They are pulled and transplanted without quarter as a line must be drawn early in the season before they grab territory as would an invading hoard. Garlic mustard has taken its place in some of the beds, but as it has bolted and the soil is moist, it is easy to pull. In less than an hour, a 30-gallon garbage can is full.
As many plants have emerged from their slumber, others are not so fortunate. Many of the lavenders fronting the yard did not make it through the winter, their death a combination of poor soil and undulating winter temperatures. The beautyberry and butterfly bushes also fared poorly though I see a few tiny buds emerging from their respective root stocks giving me hope that new shoots will take the place of dead ones in the coming months.
The bleeding hearts have exploded with flowers: ten days ago they were just emerging from the soil. And the clear view on our north-facing hill is now blocked with oak, maple, birch and ash leaves. The raspberries and blackberries have started to green out and the blueberry bushes are covered with white flowers and the flies that pollinate them. The asparagus and rhubarb are ready for a first harvest as are the garden greens. Charlotte has already sampled the sorrel. Spring has arrived.