Back in the garden...finally!

June 2021

2020-2021 was the winter of our (Covid) discontent, a cold and isolated and seemingly endless season for many. Did we ever long more eagerly for the warmth of the sun?

As I write this, on a beautiful day in early May, I am once again fighting off the urge to dive into yard work. There is a lot to do, partially because I leave a lot of perennials standing in the fall to provide housing for future butterflies and insects. I long to clear away the brown stalks and dried seed pods that provided winter interest, but look out of place now that the snow has finally melted. They
need to remain undisturbed until the daily temperatures are typically 10 C or higher.

I get an annual thrill in early April when I scrape away shredded leaf mulch and see the new green growth pushing up from the ground. Reluctantly, I cover things up again, as we are likely to get at least one more dump of snow! Gardeners across our region have been rejoicing over the little vegetables and annual flower seedlings they have started indoors or in greenhouses, sharing pictures and asking questions of helpful gardening veterans in the online groups we enjoy.

The local nurseries have been busy as well and I had a chance recently to talk to two senior staff members of Creekside Nursery: Anne Newbold and Stefanie Bryan. They hit the ground running in early March, after a breather of a few months in the heart of winter. March is the month in which they receive bare root perennials from Winnipeg, the classic bleeding hearts, lilies, peonies, hosta and milkweed as well as some new and exciting hybrids as they come available. April is a busy time, when all the herbs, vegetables and annuals that are sold are being seeded in the greenhouse. Stefanie is busy planning and implementing “recipes” for the beautiful hanging baskets and planters. She also oversees the choosing and ordering of all the trees and shrubs, back in the fall. Anne focuses on the perennials and the water garden plants. The fall is a time when she dreams and plans, reading magazines and other sources to stay on top of all the latest garden trends. The orders must be in by October if they are to be ready to roll come spring. Over the last ten years, beneficial insects have been brought in to replace pesticides and that process is complete this year.

I’m getting ahead of myself! Back to early May. The spring flowers seem to be as eager to fling off their blankets of mulch and snow as we are to discard our heavy winter coats and boots. I laugh as I see the trademark Thunder Bay spring combos of parkas and flip-flops make their appearances, or possibly someone in winter boots and no jacket at all clomping past the snowdrops and daffodils.

Most mornings I walk around my front and back gardens, preferably with a cup of hot tea or coffee in my hand. It is a great start to the day, and the delight of seeing new growth, especially a first blossom, is one of my favorite parts of summer. Sedums are one of the first to offer up their grey-green rosettes. The beginnings of the long-stemmed cheerful Heliopsis are abundantly evident along the sunny fence (clearly this is the year they plan to take over the whole flower bed). No tulips in bloom quite yet, but the leaves are a good size. A new generation of fuzzy grey lamb’s ears is rising up from the crumbling remains of last summer’s patch. Dark red peony shoots burst upwards to contrast beautifully with the slender green daylily leaves nearby. There is always something to look forward to.

The days between now and the June printing of this magazine will be ever lengthening until they reach their peak. The long sunny days will call us out into the fresh air to play and charge our batteries once again. The work we put into flower beds in the spring will be paying off as we enjoy the changing blooms and colour patterns the perennials offer, as well as the faithful punches of colour the annuals provide. The seeds we planted in the vegetable patch are beginning to offer up some fresh additions to the dinner plate (mixed greens and radishes anyone?) Just think of the fresh produce still to come!

May the sun’s rays warm your hearts as well as the earth and bring forth new life in both!

Kim Kilgour is a wife, mother of three, retired dental hygienist and gardening enthusiast.

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