This will be the fourth full year of the garden. In the second year anything that grew, or luckily bloomed, anything that did anything blew me away. But I've come to expect more. The surprises must be more, and in turn, the heartbreaks will certainly be more. And this is right.
In 2009 the sweet autumn clematis was huge, but for some reason last year it was small, as it was in 2008. What will it do this year? Will I have to start over?
Swamp milkweed seems to be a two year plant; will the plugs from last year be massive this summer? Will I have as many monarchs as I did last year, which was a banner year?
This is the first winter when I loved the winter garden almost as much as the summer. It's close. So many birds have taken refuge in the dried stalks, the now-full perennials. And all the color and texture--I will truly hate to cut it down in a week or two. I'll leave the grasses as long as I can because the birds might want bits of them. I'll also need to be especially careful about what I'm cutting--I already see swallowtail cocoons and preying mantis egg cases, rolled leaves of viceroys and spiders. What else must I carefully prserve that I can't see? Where do I step?
I garden in a living graveyard, where ghosts haunt me and each other. Decay is life, and life is decay. When I look at the arched stems of wild senna, I remember it being alive so cleary, all the days, all the insects, the close inspections, the wonder of developing seed pods--it's alive even now, my thoughts shooting outward like a projector on a screen to make it so. And the liatris. The eupatorium. The salvia. The aster laevis.
I'm a sentimentalist. I can't bare to cut down these memories. I was surprised so much last year, will I be again? I was crushed last year, will I be again? I will cut it all down in one afternoon, then forget everything so that I might remember it again, but better.