The Garden Life: Signs of spring’s emergence begin to blossom




I can never say exactly what stirs my emotional awakening to spring each year. It seems to be something different from year to year. I do know that it’s more than just a date on the calendar. It’s a feeling I cannot shake, a sense that something I’ve been hoping for is within my grasp. I’m not the only one who feels this way. All of my gardening friends have a certain glow about them, as if they have come upon a secret windfall.

Maybe it’s simply a shift in the weather or the amount of sunlight in the sky. Perhaps it’s the cycle of emerging plants returning to the garden. Certainly, the early snowdrops give me renewed hope. For all I know, it’s some element of my biological clock, circadian rhythm or the simple accumulation of nature’s abundance.

Whatever it is, when I see a batch of daffodils, I sense a promise that the beginning of something new is near. Even when the daffodils emerge through blades of grass in a frosty lawn, I know that winter is a thing of the past. One sure trigger for me is the flowering of plum and Japanese cherry trees. When they burst into bloom, I know without a doubt that there is no turning back.

With spring comes the realization that I am feeling a need to change as well. I’m aware of a desire to start anew. I don’t mean I’ll be a different man by noon tomorrow. It doesn’t have to happen that way. First, I’ll take the time to prep the existing garden for its spring show. But I know from experience that while I’m working in the garden, I will be thinking of what I can do differently.

It’s always best to consider change a bit before you actually take it on. Spring is the perfect chance to review the state of our gardens and our intentions for the new year. Depending on the length of time that we have lived with our current garden, we all enter the spring season with a unique set of expectations.

At some point in our garden education, we come to know that landscaping can add to the value of a home. A patio or deck dramatically increases living space and contributes greatly to an improved home lifestyle. Events such as the upcoming Home and Garden Idea Fair draw large crowds of people interested in gathering ideas for improving their homes and gardens.

General landscaping has been divided into three fields, something to keep in mind if you want to hire a firm for their services. Lawn care companies specialize in mowing, raking, edging, seeding, and otherwise caring for the grassy areas of your yard. Landscape maintenance firms are primarily concerned with periodic maintenance of trees, shrubs and flower beds, as well as lawn care.

Then there are firms that handle landscape construction and planting under the direction of a landscape designer. This last group deals with everything from plant selection to hardscaping. A good landscape designer can help you integrate all kinds of practical and aesthetic considerations into an overall plan that achieves the effects that are most important to you.

Whether you want to attract birds, impress the neighbors, or create fanciful outdoor recreation areas for children, landscape designers can help make it all come together as you hoped it would. Designers can help you work within a budget and can help you implement the plan in stages spread over several seasons. A good designer should listen to your ideas and work with you to create a garden that reflects your best choices.

Even if you decide to formulate a plan on your own, have a landscape design professional review your ideas before you begin moving dirt around or buying expensive plants. There are also books and computer-based design tools with information on every aspect of landscaping. At the very least, run your ideas past a friend or neighbor with some gardening experience.

Winter’s wane makes my spring garden a resplendent thing. With the seasonal change, I am reminded that the garden is a mirror of my life. Every garden is a reflection of a gardener’s hopes and aspirations and occasionally of one’s joy and woe. Nevertheless, spring assures us that as long as we continue to look ahead, anything is possible. The poet Pablo Neruda said it best, “You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming.” It’s early April and I have a feeling that everything is just around the corner.

Robb Rosser is a WSU-certified master gardener. Reach him at