Turns out the plant nursery was having a 40%-off sale on exactly the bushes I was hoping to find. So now two Capistrano rhododendrons are ensconced along the back fence. It's a medium-sized variety--about 6 feet tall at maturity--with pale yellow blossoms that should look beautiful in the early summer gloaming. And I'll be happy to have a couple of evergreens back there--something green to ponder on a raw November afternoon.
So the back garden is underway, and now the new arrivals can rest and revive. They will be my last purchases of the season. In October I'll plant some daffodils, crocuses, snowdrops, and anemones; in April I'll turn my thoughts to perennials--ferns, Solomon seal, and the like. For now I feel pretty satisfied. A fire pit, a little tree, two rhododendrons: they're significant improvements on that barren plain.
Today I'll probably tear out the waning cucumber plant, cut back the cosmos that are falling all over the sidewalk, and otherwise occupy myself outside while Tom's tiling project takes over the kitchen again. At some point this weekend I'll need to freeze kale and make tomato sauce. I never did get to Blake or Shelley yesterday: I was too distracted by rhododendrons. So I might sit outside today and work on their poems.
I apologize if you're bored stiff by all of this plant talk. But my gardens have been, without doubt, my number-one pandemic comfort. No phone, no laptop, no hair-raising news. The simple task to cultivate and tend, to focus on beauty and production. A place to be alone. A place that gives pleasure to a community. Tasks that knit the body and the heart.
The bees were humming about the hive. William raked a few stones off the garden, his first garden labour this year. I cut the shrubs. . . . Wm. wasted his mind in the Magazines. I wrote to Coleridge. . . . Then we sate by the fire, and were happy, only our tender thoughts became painful. Went to bed at ½ past 11.
from the journal of Dorothy Wordsworth, January 27, 1802