When I got up this morning to let the dog out, I opened the back door and felt the first warm, gentle rain of the season. Spring usually comes a bit earlier here in Maryland, but we’re coming off of a long, snowy winter, the likes of which had never been seen in these parts.
As all good gardeners do, I started thinking about spring when the first bulb catalogues start rolling in around September. I had wanted to order the bulbs pictured here, “Katherine Hodgkin” dwarf iris, for the past couple of years, but they were always sold out before I got around to ordering. This past fall, I was on top of my game, got my order in early, and received fifty little bulbs. I kept about twenty five, and gave the others to a good friend who had just moved into a new house. Bulbs are meant to be shared! We plant these ugly little things with the hope of things to come, only seeing their future beauty in our minds eye. But plant we do, dreaming and digging.
These gems, named for a woman I will never meet, came up early, right behind the snowdrops (Galanthus),which were planted by the former owner of my house. They are beautiful, tiny, and a wonderful harbinger of things to come. Somewhere, I hope Ms. Hodgkin is smiling at the sight.
Sadly, the blooms lasted only a few days and are now gone, already storing energy for next year. The cool thing is that other performers in this symphony being played in my garden quickly took their places. Building upon the snowdrops and dwarf iris, next came the forsynthia and narcicis, the lenten rose. All these leading to a future crescendo of tulips, flowering quince, dogwoods and trout lily. It’s like the tension that builds from Palm Sunday to the Easter Vigil, a slow unfolding of the Mystery. We know what will come next, but there’s an excitement in the waiting.
Holy Week is meant to be a time for thinking about our lives and how they intersect with the One who knows our name, who gave up everything and calls us to a better Way. Are we living the life we are called to? Can we trust like Him, no matter where it leads?
Holy Week is also a great time for taking an assessment of your garden, looking for signs of life and clearing out anything that didn’t make it through the winter. Its a time for mulching, fertilizing, pruning, and dreaming about blooming roses, oriental lilies, and an abundant vegetable patch with lots of tomatoes.
Encouraged by this hope of things to come, I went to a couple of garden centers and stocked up on a wide range of seeds. I also picked up some basil, thyme, parsley, already growing in little pots. I can’t wait to cook with them, but for now, they have to sit it out in my greenhouse until its a bit warmer.
I also purchased a Passion Vine with the name “Immaculata.” How could any Catholic pass up a plant with a name like that? The place where I purchased this plant is sadly closing after over seventy five years of business. Not many people are supporting the local, independent garden centers any more. But they are the place to turn for advice, special and unusual plants, and a chance to hep the little guy. If there is one in your area, please support them!
These days of Holy Week are all about remembering and trusting. Death will never win out. Resurrection is right around the corner. I can feel it when I go to Church, and I can see it in my garden. We don’t have to wait long now…