I would never say that the gardens in my neck of North America are at their peak now—far from it. It’s better than that. Almost everything is green, and only a small percentage of it is actually flowering. (With apologies to the geraniums, early columbines, dicentra, and other late spring beauties.) The spring bulbs are over, and the summer flowers are still in their prepubescent stage. The hosta leaves have just unfurled and are months away from looking dusty or motheaten. Ferns are standing tall (some of mine as high as five feet), the clematis are all gray-green shoots, and tight rose buds are barely showing slivers of red or pink. Even the annuals are somewhat discreet, standing out in small colorful clumps as they begin to grow into their containers.
The time when all is possibility and anticipation lasts for about two weeks at the end of May and the beginning of June here. This is the time when you can still cherish the idea of a garden, and the hope that this summer your garden will fail to disappoint in the major ways gardens so often disappoint. Sure, you can already see the seeds of disappointment and frustration beginning to mature, but they’re easy to ignore. Now.
For me, this is the only time I can truly enjoy the roses. “Oh my god, I’ve never seen so many buds,” I think to myself. The time when the resulting flowers will be too heavy for their canes, get clobbered by rain, or otherwise decimated (the dreaded beetle has made great inroads here) is far in the future. The time when the emerging shoots of a second flush will be annihilated by midge is even farther away. Even writing this and knowing this does not hinder my present delight in the upstanding array of pristine buds, weeks away from maturity.
Although there’s little to like about an adolescent lily (one friend asked me why I was growing so much corn), at least now they’re all standing tall, and the stakes are still in storage. Now I can imagine that the tall mid-late-summer perennials (still pretty short at present) planted to hide their awkward stature will do the job. This is one of many, many garden strategies that has yet to be proven under the sterner conditions of high summer.
And I suppose there are plenty of ways the pond will cause heartache and bewilderment in the weeks to come, but I don’t see them yet. At this moment, the pond seems the smartest addition to the garden that could have been made. When almost nothing is in flower in the ever-warmer days of early October, the pond will be there, gurgling away, unaffected by bloom cycles and insect damage. Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself now.
Excuse this short post. I have to go out enjoy my (almost) flowerless garden.