All avid gardeners feel compelled to inspect their gardens after any sort of lengthy separation. In fact, the separation may have been only between 8 am and 6 pm of the very same day. So you can imagine how I felt after returning from my prolonged hospital stay.
The English garden writer Beverly Nichols called his inspections The Tour. For him, The Tour had to be conducted in compliance with ironclad rules, most important of which was that each patch of the garden must be viewed in the correct order.
If this rule is not observed, according to Nichols: “… you will find that you rush wildly around the garden, discover one or two sensational events, and then decide that nothing else has happened.”
For myself the exact sequence of the garden inspection is not so critical. Nichols is correct, though, that a garden inspection is not about highlights, but about an infinite number of details gleaned from gazing intently at every square foot of ground. What matters most to me is that the garden inspection must not be rushed, no matter how much you are irritating members of your immediate family.
Also, time is needed during a garden inspection to apply the Stare of Life. The Stare of Life is an intense gaze that warms the soil and hastens processes of cell division and photosynthesis. It can be applied only by gardeners with pure hearts within their own gardens, and scientists are still struggling to understand the phenomenon. I have found it to be most useful in encouraging plants that have not yet broken out of dormancy or whose new growth is frustratingly slow.
Not infrequently neighbors have found me staring intently for long periods at apparently barren patches of frozen earth. I do not try to explain to them about the Stare of Life.
On yesterday’s tour, there were signs of the transition to the latter part of the season. Many Narcissi have begun fading, but the merrybells (Uvularia grandiflora) have come into bloom.
In a shaded spot, the merrybells’ foliage fills in and makes a nice groundcover for the remainder of the season.
I was also pleased to see that the ostrich ferns (Metteuccia struthiopteris) are now making up for lost time.
You can see how they respond to the warmer soil closer to the house. I can tell that soon I will be supplying free ostrich ferns to whoever is willing to take one.
In future posts I will write in more detail about what is happening in different parts of the garden.
How do you conduct The Tour in your garden?