“Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s party!'” — Robin Williams
Mother Nature has flipped her magic switch and suddenly spring has sprung. In New England, that means that the flowering trees are bursting with beautiful white, pink and purple blooms; forsythia are commanding attention with their bright yellow displays, and tulips, daffodils and hyacinths are proving that yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as spring. Ding-dong, winter is dead.
We are emerging from our homes like moles, blinking in the sunlight, eager to dig in the dirt. It is a time for raking, edging, thatching, cutting back old dead wood, cleaning out the faded and brown and getting ready for the new and green. Yet here in New England, as I’m sure is also the case in other northern climes, early spring presents some challenges in the gardening world. The great debate begins as to whether or not it is too soon to plant. Those of us who have been around the garden block a few times say “yup, it is. Better wait.” Nothing is more disheartening than spending money and time in getting a lovely garden planted, then have a cold snap blow through and freeze the poor babies.
So there we stand, in our dirt, tools and energy at the ready. And once things are prepped and tufted….then what?
What happens next is the planting of something else. Yard décor. Out come the bird baths, the gnomes, the windmills, and the flags. These items can withstand a bit of weather and they give us some character and color while we await full bloom.
Now, come on, admit it, in our minds our backyards all look like, or will soon look like, this:
But we are real women with real yards, and in reality they look more like this:
So bit by bit we add elements of décor that say something about our personal outdoor style, and welcome the new season and feed our illusions of grandeur. Some home ornamentation is stately and serious – with stone lions by the driveway, or the Blessed Virgin Mary gazing upon roses, or columns and statues that make the front lawn look like Little Italy. Other yards turn into fanciful gardens of creatures – elves, frogs, bunnies, turtles, fish and cherubs, all gallivanting around the property. Sometimes the whole collection has been gathered into one garden area making it look like a carnival of crowded critters. Or there’s the fountain that looks like a little boy pee’ing on the flowers. I never quite understood that appeal of that one.
Some homes go for the gusto in over-the top bright colors. There is a home in a neighborhood near me that welcomes spring with a myriad of bold statements – archways of fake flowers, towers and statuary in bright blues, golds and yellows. I imagine it must seem like a fairy tale yard for any child. And, of course, some of us are much more understated, with perhaps a simple bench and a sundial.
I could easily become the Crazy Accessory Lady with my yard. When I stroll through Garden Centers, I’m attracted to all of the fun things that could be added to my property. Stepping stones, critters, whirly-gigs, you name it, I want to find space for them around my home. Luckily, at least in my husband’s eyes, I have limited budget and limited space – so I must be selective. The result is somewhat random items that make me smile. I’ve had a stone mama bunny and baby in my garden for years. As a matter of fact, when I got them out for the spring this year, I had to repaint their noses. We have a birdbath fountain which I am convinced is not only decorative, but serves a purpose as a place for our little feathered friends to pause and cool off. And my new acquisition this spring: a bike-riding Cardinal. I mean, just look at him, how could he NOT come home with me? Every time I look at him, I laugh. So there he is, in my front garden, waiting for some flowers and greenery to pedal through.
The home and garden magazines don’t help quell the desire to create something magical in the backyard. I read one article that suggested painting patio pots with glow-in-the-dark paint, so at night they’ll glimmer. I’m totally trying that this year.
It is funny how our tastes change with time. When gazing balls first started popping up in gardens, my husband and I giggled and mocked them. We had a running joke with my father that some day we’d buy one and sneak it into his garden. And yet… I now find them strangely appealing. When we visited a garden center in March, we saw some that light up at night…and others that are designed with funky swirled colors and mirrored reflections. Hmm, tempting….
We R.W.’s have done our best to get through a long winter, but have grown weary of being inside the walls… so we eagerly welcome venturing outside. Nature’s beauty is all around us — but we are women — can we help it if we want to do a bit of accessorizing?