The magical scent of spring
April is the month of the puppies and this year we will have three; a pug each for Beatrice, Florence and Celestia. While this sounds like a dog excess, it is actually carefully thought out. After years of lobbying, they are finally at an age where we (under our supervision) feel like we are ripe for investing in little pugs. In return, they receive that mysterious blessing that only a dog – appropriately loved and cherished – can bestow. As my wife Sybilla said, what is the point of living in the environment we live in with all the extra work it does (say against a townhouse) if you can't work with dogs for long periods. I imagine our family had an above-average lockdown that we're grateful for, but they still talk, albeit subtly, about the kids. Dogs are our oldest evolutionary partners. The evidence for the partnership goes back to the appearance of homo sapiens themselves, so I couldn't think of a better medicine. The love I had for my first dog had a certain sweetness that I can still catch in the air when I think about it.
Now is a good time to check out your herb garden, if you have one. You can try layering something woody like rosemary or thyme (it's not as hard as it sounds) or simply parting your chives for an even bigger, healthier chunk. Make a rule to grow a new herb every year. However, the real joy of a herb garden is its olfactory effects. Last year I put a nice citrus geranium in clumps here and there. Passing by and idly rubbing the leaves for her perfume became a great pleasure. I like it more and more to fill jugs with cold water with rosemary and also to make fresh mint tea.
I'm terribly excited about tree lilies. This extraordinary bulb should grow up to four or five feet tall and bloom in the first year after planting (there may be time if you're quick, otherwise make a note of it for the next year). From their sophomore year they can reach really gigantic proportions (bigger than me) and they are adorned with a large number of beautiful flowers, but the best thing about the one I grow is its scent.
Late one evening last July, I sagged exhausted in an armchair in the nursery. To my delight, a warm breeze poured into the room through the open windows. The room filled until I could hardly concentrate on anything else. It was an exquisite moment with an intimate, devotional quality. Such moments are the reason why I even take care of gardening. Nectar for the soul.
This year I increased my garden lily population and planted at least another 20 bulbs right around the house. I think the one I grow is Pretty Woman. I say “I think” because I hope that I have correctly identified the ones I bought a few years ago, even though, as so often, I lost the label. You have to get yourself involved in some insanely grueling murder when the water lily beetle is about to show up (squeezing your thumb and forefinger is a safe method), and otherwise everything about them is easy. We all know the symbolism of a white lily and of course it is quite possible to grow the Madonna lily yourself in an English garden or pot. When gardening on clay, I tend to plant a few inches of horticultural grain.
In this month not only the flowering, but also the great development will take place. The moment when the leaves come back, offering their crispest and cleanest green, unstained by sun or rain. At that moment my garden rises and is camouflaged again like a gigantic green island. But we were also at the top of the church calendar; the beacon for the rest of the year and for the time when time itself will not have a match. With our gardens truly rising up around us, let's make sure we keep the happiest words: He is risen and is attached to our hearts.
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