Debutante alert! Ladies and gentleman, allow me to present my very first lilac. So many years before I managed to coax one into bloom; puts me in mind of Thomas Jefferson saying that although he was old in years, he was "but a very young gardener." Of course, it smells exquisite. It is one of 3 twigs that I bought at least 5 years ago at the Philadelphia Flower Show and planted at the side of the porch in an act of sheer delusion. I wanted a screen of tall lilac bushes there, so I simply decided that they would thrive in an arid, high-traffic patch next to our driveway in an impenetrable steely mat of Ent roots. To their credit, the brave trio refused to die, and even grew a few inches each year, but they wisely drew the line at blooming in their merciless parking lot. Last year, I transplanted just one—using Walt Whitman's guidance,* I put it in the closest thing I have to a "door-yard"—and here are the results. I can almost here it saying, "Whew! I thought you'd never figure that out!"
Otherwise, this spring is the Year of the Guilt Garden. I have done nothing, and I mean nothing; I've been totally preoccupied with this, so there are unraked autumn leaves out there, and only one poor rosebush got pruned. To my mingled relief and outrage, everything is growing anyway, and to my absurd horror, the rosebushes have all gone and set buds without any pruning at all. Don't you see? This raises the unthinkable, transgressive possibility that pruning is almost a complete waste of time! They look a little leggy and shaggy, especially the rugosa, but the overall result ain't that bad. Needless to say, no fertilizer or Epsom salts were applied, either. How can they be doing so well without me?
Even the potted guys are thriving on neglect. These alpine strawberries, (which I grew from seed, ahem), are making flowers, raising the tantalizing possibility of a coming micro-snack of actual alpine strawberries. (Something tells me Bagel and his minions will beat me to the harvest.)
And my little rescued Maine pine tree has put out new candles. Note, rescued, not "poached" or "stolen" or any of the other cruelly inaccurate and defamatory characterizations by my family for this act of botanical mercy. This little fellow was sprouting at the very foot of his parent, a towering pine on the coastlands near Acadia National Park, and had no hope of competing as he grew. Look how grateful he is. Someday, when we demolish the useless garage, he will be the towering centerpiece of my imaginary pine grove.
Today would be a perfect day to start belatedly shoveling and pinching and transplanting in anticipation of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden plant sale next week. Instead, I plan to ride my bicycle.