Gayle Madwin (queerbychoice) wrote,
Gayle Madwin

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The Crack of Spring

You can always tell the exact moment when spring arrives in my garden. All winter, most of our back yard is underwater - only a few inches of water, but that water remains there pretty much constantly from late December through early March. The rest of our back yard, and all of our front yard, may not be actually underwater but still remains a slimy, sticky, muddy mess continuously throughout that same time period. Then spring arrives, and all at once - literally overnight - the mud dries out. And cracks. What yesterday was slimy mud today is cracked and parched-looking.

And that's when most of the flowers show up - the same moment that the cracks do. So the image of this California native golden prettyface (Triteleia ixioides) pushing its first flower up through one of the larger cracks in the soil in our front yard this morning seems to me the perfect depiction of the arrival of spring in my garden. I do not consider it a spectacularly pretty picture - in fact, I think anyone who knows anything about what decent gardening soil should look like will wince at the sight of it - but I think it is a spectacularly realistic picture, the sort of picture that gardening magazines would never publish but that ordinary gardeners love to see, because it makes gardening in their own lousy soil seem less hopeless. Maybe if there were a magazine for depressed gardeners who need to be cheered up with pictures of other people's lousy soil conditions, this could appear there.

Incidentally, not one of the species visible here (bird's eye gilia, California poppy, sky lupine, and golden prettyface) would have survived at all in the wetter areas of the back yard. Even here, in one of the relatively "dry" spots, the foliage of the tiny, growth-stunted, California poppy seedling (partly hidden behind the left blade of the golden prettyface) is turning yellow and orange around the edges from excessive water.

The Gardening Gone Wild blog has a monthly garden photography contest called "Picture This," with a different theme each month. I generally don't feel that either my garden or my camera is adequate for the purposes of this contest, so I've only entered once before. I don't think this picture is really what the contest is looking for either - I imagine the contest is looking for the same sorts of pictures that could be published in real gardening magazines, and not in my imaginary magazine for depressed gardeners - but my picture does perfectly sum up what this month's theme - "Awakening" - means in my garden, so I decided to enter it anyway . . . if only for the sake of sharing it with the other contestants. But then I discovered that the deadline was yesterday, so I guess I'm not entering it after all. Still: this is what spring looks like in my garden.

(The winning entries haven't been announced yet, but if I were the judge, I would give first place to the Frog King and second place to the pink peony with an ant on it.)
Tags: native plants, photographs
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