Living

Bumbling, tumbling bumble bees

From a perch in the tallest red oak tree, binoculars in hand, I scan the woods and river and see in the distance that the dust cloud from January’s circus show has finally begun to settle, mingling now and then with gusts of pine pollen on the breeze.

Basketball tournaments fill the airwaves blotting out the noise of jousting matches and boisterous crowds filling city streets painted with cherry blossoms. As the world watches from near and far Humpty Dumpty gathers all of his men for to build a great wall. If Mother Goose’s rhyme is true, Humpty Dumpty is a round sort of fellow who keeps falling off the edge, heading for disaster. The contractor may need to add a safety net or two!

And so as the world spins ‘round and we wait for the outcome, winter has been washed away, vanishing in a cloudburst. I walk through the house sweeping up pollen and listen to the music of spring. Across the fields the love birds call to each other ... Ahhhh … Choo!!! ... I answer, AAAAAHHHH … CHOOOOO!!!

After the rain there is a soft green tint to the woods. New leaves have unfurled among the tops of poplar trees. Wild cherries’ tiny flower clusters were dashed to the ground last night in the wind. Now dozens of tall hollies shed old yellow leaves preparing for blossoms to come. My flower beds wear a blanket made of prickles. For this is just April, the season of Monet and Impressionist art, the colors seem to hint at what is yet to come.

There are no bold brash colors today, only lemon greens among grasses and branches, coral pinks and whites where apple blossoms, dogwoods and old azaleas grow. Scattered here and there daffodils have held on till now, their golden heads fading as wild buttercups begin to shine in the grass. Considering the unexpected freeze of early March I’m happy that so much has thrived. There is still hope for the fragrant colors of Cezanne and Van Gogh and warm summer nights.

Recently taking inventory I noticed two small azaleas and a dark purple Iris had flower buds that crumbled in my fingers like tissue paper, from their warm southern exposure they were impatient for April I suppose. Other azaleas blooming now face north, their immature buds yet undeveloped were spared. Now in the warm sunlight dozens of swallowtails converge. When they tire of coral pink nectar they fly off to feed from hundreds of sweet white flowers covering a trio of battered sour cherry trees.

And though the pear tree flowers froze, my favorite old blueberry bushes have come through. Resisting the temptation to open in that fickle March zephyr, hundreds of tiny bell flowers held tight until this week. Butterflies and bumble bees came each morning carefully checking the progress. I was skeptical too. A summer without blueberries was going to be hard. Now all seems well, maybe not quite 100 percent but close enough for me. The six foot tall bushes are difficult to cover. It may be time for a pruning.

First breath of spring flowers that fed the honey bees all winter now offer succulent fruits for the birds. Soon the bees will come to the white clover and wild hollies and the garden will hum with their buzzing throngs. Once again low growing wildflowers, henbits and such, richly hued purple ajuga, violets, bluets, speedwell and others do their part to span the season for the smallest butterflies and bees. I still watch in amazement as the bumble bees climb among the tiny velvet henbit flowers repeatedly feasting on these smallest of blossoms, and as the stems bend and sway and I’ve never seen one snap. After all, “Horton the Elephant” hatched an egg didn’t he? Who am I to question Dr. Seuss and his wisdom? If Horton could do it, so can the tumbling bumble bee. As you might guess I’m conscience bound to let the weedy henbit play out in the garden … no matter how much I want to rip it out.

Now once again the wild columbine has spread over the garden, escaping its’ designated space, showing up under chairs, among the parsley and shading the tarragon shoots. Such an interloper … migrating with brash and unwavering intent. I could gather more rocks and make more walls, higher edges to contain its’ wanderings, but I think not. For my garden has enough little walls yet hardly enough wire fences to contain enthusiastic seeds that send themselves into the air on a warm summer’s night.

So the woodland hyacinths go where they want along with the hyssops and daisies and everything else. I simply let them come where they will for there is plenty of dirt and the sun shines warm on a summer’s day for it all. The garden is all the more enchanting because of this crazy cross pollinating, migrating, beautiful habit. I love it all, always have and I always will!

Welcome spring, wherever you are. And as always, please be in touch.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Sally Boesch is a Durham native who has lived in Bahama since 1980. She live in a remodeled 1908 “Carolina” farmhouse and an ever-spreading garden. She works as a gardener to protect the rural landscape here and has been writing a column that has appeared in The Herald-Sun since 2008.

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