garden notebook

Spring in our garden brings:

Longer, warmer days with beauties to delight the senses. Tulips and daffodils nod in soft, gentle breezes. Huge black carpenter bees bumble through the golden stamen of the Iceland poppies, weighing down the delicate flowers with their bulk.

An itinerant flock of Waxwings has adopted our bird bath
and settles in a flashing, yellow, swarm several times a day to drink.
The air is filled with the spring songs of the purple finches and robins.
My favorite sound in all of the world is the dawn song of a robin…unless perhaps, his evening worship may be slightly more sweet. And the courting flight of a pair of red-tailed hawks above the meadow takes my spirit soaring with them.

The peach tree is beginning to blossom and the wind scatters a flurry of white petals from the hawthorn along the paths. Johnny-jump-ups run riot through all the beds as if to announce “It’s here. It’s finally here!”

peach blossoms
robin song
herbs in profusion

The herb beds are bursting with chives, curly parsley, sweet marjoram and several varieties of thyme. The lemon verbena and lemon balm are beginning to flourish, too. Sweet, lemon, cinnamon and purple basil, two varieties of dill and edible nasturtiums are ready to be set out. Oh, how exciting to plan meals around their fresh flavors. Across the path our tomatoes and peppers are in and growing. There are green onions, radishes and carrots promising bounty for the salad bowl. Snow peas, pole beans and even a few hills of corn are peeking through the earth.

On the other hand, some mornings the meadow across the lane still stands shoulder high in mist and a warm sweater feels very comforting against the chill. We’ll relish this season while we can, because by late April or early May mornings will bring temperatures in the 80’s. Can summer be far behind?


Our world continues to blossom, while much of the US is blanketed in winter snows, our garden is blanketed in a snowfall of flower petals. A soft rain or gentle breeze scatters them over the paths and leaves in drifts.

By mid-March the citrus blossoms. The Meyer Lemon under my studio
window gives off the most amazing fragrance. Taking a drive through the
orchards is a traditional gardener’s delight, and there is no adequate description of the beauty available on every hand. Talk about blessings!

February and March may alternate between winter and spring, day by day here. The trick is to keep a stack of favorite gardening books and seed catalogs on hand as well as your rake, hoe and pruning shears. That way you can be prepared, whatever the weather.

lavender – spring ’14
blood orange
herbs – spring ’14


In spring, the garden gives us flowers.

“Seasons of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close Bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run.”

_John Keats (1795-1821)


 The word May is a perfumed word.

It is an illuminated initial.
It means youth, love, song,
and all that is beautiful in life.

_ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “Journal”

Gardens possess great healing powers
Though planted with the simplest flowers.
For in our gardens we can find
Food, both for body and for mind –
And busy hours within them spent
Bring a rich harvest of content.

_Elsie Campbell

The really wonderful thing about spring gardening is, unlike the demanding summer months, tasks can be put off until you have time to do them.

Check the irrigation equipment; soon it will be time to water again.
Fix faucets, valves and sprinkler heads. Check the drip system, sprinklers and hoses.
Buy some new nozzles, quick connects and washers as needed.

Keep on top of the weeds. They grow…well…like weeds with the spring rains.
Get ’em before they flower and go to seed.

Fertilize annuals, bulbs, citrus, shrubs, roses and any plant that is actively growing.

Water –
as needed. March is still cool enough to require touching the soil in container plants before watering. Less really is more during the “fickle” days of early spring.
Mother Nature is still teasing us with war sunny days and then shifting to cool, blustery days overnight.

Enjoy –  March, April & May are the best months to plant in our area, because roots have time to establish before the summer heat arrives. Enjoy the bounty in the garden centers and pick annuals, summer blooming bulbs, citrus herbs, perennials and veggies.