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March 18, 2011
Most graciously, our last spring with this garden has dawned early -- daffodils ready to pop in mid-March, the little reblooming irises deep purple against all the brown. And the dusky Hellebore has been in bloom for at least a week.

The Hellebore is a favorite of mine. So early, as early as the snowdrops, but with such a sophisticated palette: its flowers are mottled purples and greens. The assertive brightness of the later spring flowers is one thing, but the Hellebore is subtle, almost sly in its sudden appearance --one day just the promise of shiny new leaves and the next day the blooms are there, as if there had been no budding in between.

One of Hellebore's folk names is "Lenten Rose," although the plant is completely unrelated to roses of any kind. Some of their blooms look a little bit like a wild rose, I guess, which would be enough to prompt such a name among long-ago people who had pined another weary winter away longing for spring. But the Lenten Rose is as close as we're going to get to a rose for a while. No actual rose will bloom around here for a good two months.

The forsythia, swelling, ready to burst. The daffodils and then the tulips.
The irises and lilacs, and then the peonies, sturdy and dependable as clocks, already poking their red heads up from underground in their 80-year-old bed. The dogwood, lovely in every season, preparing to layer its drifts of white blossoms that seem to drift in mid-air like clouds. All these beloved -- can I really leave them behind? Strike out somewhere new?

Whether I think I can or not, I will. Life on earth only goes forward. It is
only in heaven, or in dreams, that we can go back.

And will people who come after us love the garden as we have? Will they be patient and let her unfold, showing them her successive treasures as week follows week in the growing season. You can't dictate to a garden new to you, no matter how old a garden it may be or how old a gardener you are. No. You first must let her show you who she is.
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