The New and the Perennial

At last, it may be said that Spring is here. Maybe.

Out in the garden, irises and daylilies are beginning the push toward luxurience; and down among their toes, what is this? It seems the astilbe is spreading out, aspiring toward thicket-dom. I’m concentrating on the ornamental beds for now, leaving the veggie patch to Mom. On the farm, that was her domain, and i remember long summer days when the most i seemed to see of her was her back, bending among the rows, or a distant flicker of movement beyond the mighty stand of The Canes.

Those raspberries – i brought a few canes down to this garden some years back, and they’re doing their best to project urbanity, even as they muscle along, snickering, shrugging up through the remnants of the hardpacked gravel driveway. In their second year, hubby and i were moving old sidewalk blocks, and found a tiny, plucky little raspberry sprout. I knew it could not be one of The Canes, so i was tender with it, making a space amongst the wildboys, beseeching them to live in peace together. I guess we discovered the one variety more burly than The Canes. It’s a queer cultivar, escaped from God alone knows where, very distinct from The Canes – where they bristle with an exoskeleton of thorns, this fellow is nearly smooth, deceptively soft on the hand. By the time i realised just how big this new fellow wanted to be, it was too late – he’d allied himself to The Canes. We now have two kinds of unstoppable, ten foot tall raspberries, and that’s no bad thing.

In a while, we’ll go over to survey our new plot in the Community Garden at our local League. I remember, a decade ago, going with a friend to investigate the possibility of starting a community garden at that site. The momentum wasn’t there yet. And i remember the wisdom of Susan Penstone, advising us that the biggest part of community gardening is cultivating the people. We did have a community garden that season, in the backyard of a lovely retired gentleman in the neighbourhood. And Susan’s words were true – it’s the people who have to be nurtured most, who, unless they are burly old perennial sorts already, need to be brought along step by step, taught the best practices, the tips and tricks of the craft. And that patient task takes seasons. We let that project go after one year, as both us leaders became pregnant and didn’t want the extra responsibility, and none of the folks we’d gathered were ready to take on leadership for the next spring.

But these ideas are like raspberries. The root survives. We didn’t start it. Like a raspberry cane, the urge to garden is an intrepid being, able to make its way through the rubble, to bide under years of drought, to spring up when the time is right. So glad the time is right, and so keen to see those plots of land flourishing this summer over at the community league, if Nature approves, and we are granted by the Great Mystery that the sun, wind and water provide.

Here’s to a season of growing with neighbours.

all my relations


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