Life is a circle in garden terms. Rushing madly and busily forward each day, you can sometimes forget that. Then suddenly spring begins to poke forth to remind you.
The first dandelion pops up. You can’t plan for that, but you can take pleasure how nature chooses to respond to the ever-changing combination of light and heat, day length and wind and rain that we call the climate. You can deliberately choose plants for all seasons that encourage you to stop the everyday and step for a few moments into that circular rhythm.
One delightful thing about having seasonal plants in your Elderyard® is anticipation.
For example, you notice one year that the redbuds generally start to bloom around Valentine’s Day. When this happens again the next year, you begin to recognize a pattern. By the third year, you’re paying attention to your neighbor’s trees, looking forward to the burst of pink on the bare limbs. By the fourth, you’re out there from the beginning of February, checking for the telltale swelling of buds that heralds the bloom.
The second delightful thing is surprise.
You notice the deep green spikes of narcissus or the blue-grey cornucopia-like leaves of tulips beginning to poke from the ground and think, OK, spring’s on its way. But if you’re not paying daily attention, suddenly you look across the lawn and marvel that a dozen red tulip flowers are glowing in the flowerbed.
The third delightful thing is amazement when the circular rhythm takes a sidestep.
That Lady Banks rose on the south side of the house always blooms in mid-March, and one spring it starts blooming even before the redbuds. It attracts your attention and causes you to notice that the south sides of the Texas mountain laurels on the south side of the house are blooming, too. You look intently and discover that there are big buds, still green, on the north sides of those blooming shrubs. And yet, the entire shrubs on the north and west sides of the house still show buds that are small, just barely swelling.
Wow! Clearly the Texas mountain laurels have been influenced by the above-average warm sunny days but haven’t been fooled entirely into spreading all of their glorious grape-scented flowers too far ahead of the bees that rely on them for early nectar.
Walking around my own yard today, here’s what I noticed.
That tiny patch of grape hyacinths planted under the Texas pistache that dies of cotton root rot is flourishing despite the switch from light shade to full sun. The 4-foot acacia next to the dry creek has flower buds larger than I’ve seen before. Maybe the fall pruning helped or the "normal" rainfall last year? The species tulips are spreading into the sedum bed with newly sprouted leave, and I love the leaf contrast. Last week, there was no hint of life from the Spanish hyacinths, and this week the leaves are already 2 inches tall. And at the 90-degree angle where the side steps meet the front path, the Narcissus tazetta has three – count ‘em, three – floriferous, fragrant stalks. The deliberate design of the flower bed where the walker pauses to make the turn is working well!
How can you add delight to your Elderyard®?
Make sure life’s continuous curve plays out in your yard – for sheer physical enjoyment and for the spiritual reminders of optimism. It can be a simple addition close by, in the soil or in containers. Think dooryard garden or just the path to the mailbox or the recycle bin – somewhere that can entice you into noticing this swing of the seasonal cycle, even if you’re housebound or rarely go into the yard. You don’t have to do the gardening yourself to immerse yourself in nature’s circle of life.