The story below is an excerpt from our Jan./Feb. 2015 issue. For the rest of this story and more like it subscribe today, view our digital edition or download our FREE iOS app!
Is there any better time than mid-winter to reflect on all the ways that our gardens light up our lives?
Our forced subsistence on brilliant photographs in the annual flood of seed catalogs is thin gruel compared to those earliest promises of things to come: the foolish daffodils that can’t seem to wait for the weather to warm, that push green spearpoints through the soil in January and February, and open their insouciant blooms just in time to be buried by March snows.
If the daffodils are blooming, can forsythia be far behind? No, it cannot. Why do its blooms make me think of strings of tiny lanterns? Maybe it’s the way they’re strung along still-barren stems. Maybe because the forsythia in my yard so often glows through fog stealing up the hillside from the river. Like the daffodils, forsythia can get too early a jump on the season, its candles snuffed by killing frost. But unless (or until) it does, our winter-starved eyes, weary of the dreary competition of the grays versus the browns, feast on yard after bedraggled yard transformed by the presence of these old, reliable standbys you don’t have to do much for and can afford to forget about when the growing season kicks in. They cheer us up – and signal that it’s time, if you haven’t already, to start some seeds on the windowsill.Yellows bookend the blooming year, in garden and natural world. Robert Frost was right that nature’s first green is gold. Stop by woods on a warm spring morning to take in the soft light emanating from tiny spicebush blossoms. Even before migrating thrushes strip their twigs of scarlet fruit in fall, the buds for next year’s crop have already formed.