Don’t take your eyes off of May. You may miss a fleeting moment that will not be available to see again for a very long time. Nor will next spring look quite like this one. This spring moment is a unique moment. Enjoy this spring like it is the only one you have ever experienced.  This seems a proper response to nature’s May extravaganza. The spring is an opera of the grandest sort. This once yearly production is a month long celebration of the opening of the garden. That age old and dramatic play with a cast of many thousands has a beginning in March. By April, one can feel the momentum building. I swear I can feel the ground shuddering, ridding itself of the frost in the ground. OK, maybe I can’t, bit I imagine that I do. No matter how road ready one is for spring, come the beginning of May, there will be much too much to absorb.  One dramatic moment after another leaves a gardener blinking, and struggling to keep up. That complex constellation of spring stories is attended by no end of subplots, addendum’s, asides, unexpected turns and twists. Following the progression of spring is an unforgettable exposure to the natural world.

How many thousands of words would your essay about spring amount to? I will sheepishly admit to a novella, but for the fact that the spring comes too fast. Watching the spring play out is the best program it has ever been my pleasure to watch. So mostly, I watch.The cast is huge. The costumes are gorgeous. The spring orchestra has too many members playing their individual instruments to count. The volume is turned up. Every scene is juicy.

The plants in my garden responding to the call of spring are many. This 14th of May, some of my plants are fully leafed out. Others are just coming out of the ground. The ornamental grasses and hardy hibiscus have not made a move.  They like the warm soil of early June. My clematis are fully budded up. The hostas and ferns are unfurling. Evergreens are sending forth their new growth, known as candles. That the new growth on evergreens is known as a candle speaks to the season when the sun returns. The roses are leafing out, and growing on. The lilies are up. The delphiniums are almost 2 feet tall. The boxwoods are carpeted in their lime green new growth. The dogwoods are loaded with flowers. The azalea and rhododendron buds are swelling. Intoxicating-all of it.

The Princeton Gold maples are just about fully leafed out. The lime green color of the leaves is both fresh and luscious. Not one of the three 2 story houses in close proximity to mine can be seen. This has become a fairly shady garden, thus the yews along the fence, the pachysandra European ginger and beech ferns on the ground –  all of which are bouncing back fast from the winter. I spend more time looking at or being in this garden than any other place in my yard. In the summer it is quiet but for the sound of the water, and private.  In the spring, it is growing in every dimension and direction.  I take this picture almost every day. As the lens is focusing on what is there, so am I.

My picea abies mucrunatum candle in the most astonishing fashion. That lime green new growth is a feature of the spring growth on most evergreens. If you are accustomed to thinking that evergreens are dark and dour, watch the fireworks in the spring.

The dogwoods are breathtaking. I have not seen them bloom so profusely for a good many years. An upper deck means I have a view of them at eye level, and  from the top down. Changes of grade in a garden enable multiple views. There is nothing particularly extraordinary about any of the plants. Nor is this a show garden. Nature works the spring miracle everywhere equally. It is all there, everywhere, to be appreciated.

The Boston ivy at the shop leafs out slowly over the course of a solid month. It still has a few weeks to go before the walls will be completely covered in green.  The space between this east facing wall and the concrete driveway could not be any wider than 6 inches.  I do not recall planting one ostrich fern in that gap, much less all of these. I am sure how they spread happened over a period of years, but this spring I suddenly notice how thick and lush they have become. I am sure the heat of the summer will test them, but right now they are lovely.

Should anyone wonder where the phrase “grass green” came from, please reference the above picture.  It is a spring green color quite unlike any other plant. Mine has responded strongly to all of the rain we have had in the past month. Later I will appreciate how soft it is underfoot. How the transpiration from all of the leaf blades will provide natural cooling on hot summer days. The green color will darken. But right now, I am enjoying this simple version of spring.

Too soon, the spring growth will harden off, and this moment will evolve from an experience to a memory. I intend to keep looking as long as it lasts.










  1. Beautiful. You’re on a roll with this post, in the moment. Thanks for letting us in to see your orchestra!

  2. Marguerite says

    What magnificent photos! Something happened this winter , I’m not sure what, that has emboldened the bloom of each and every one of my flowering trees and shrubs. 3 crabapples which rarely bloom fully , bloomed in their entirety, next to the 3 which usually bloom nicely, this year…they looked positively steroidal. 3 sickly azaleas which haven’t bloomed in about 4 years… and I was ready to rip out last fall also are giving an amazing show. The wisteria…. wowza. Am trying to figure out what the conditions were last fall that led to this… but in the meantime I am taking time each day to appreciate it. I have been watching my fringe tree especially closely… each day its small buds are about one inch bigger. I have gone over to it to watch it for about 15 minutes but dang it, our senses cannot see the cells dividing and the leaves growing larger. We just have to accept our limits and enjoy what we CAN see… thank you for that message, D. Thank you for the blog. You have taught me so much.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Marguerite, thank you for your letter. What is it about this year? I know we had a very mild winter. best, Deborah

  3. Shirley Stephens says

    Beautiful! Simply Beautiful! What kind of grass is that? Fescue?

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Shirley, I have no idea what kind of grass it is. I just call it house grass. best, Deborah

  4. So love your poetic view of our gorgeous Spring!

  5. My favorite time of year. Those dogwoods! Thanks for reminding us how fleeting this stage of the garden is. Just beautiful!

  6. Annette E says

    Your dogwoods are beautiful! They are my favorite in Virginia. Are they hardy in Michigan or are they protected in some way?

  7. Carol Watkins says

    I have a puzzlement. I, too, love the flowering white dogwood (Cornus Florida- think name). Mine also in central IN have been the best ever!!! This has been a milder than usual winter, however the blooms for the dogwood are formed the previous late Fall/ perhaps early Winter. So do I assume it is the Fall that determines the next Spring’s bloom? And therefore not this mild Spring? I did not think that the Fall was any different than past years. In any case I do take it, as so very gorgeous this year- whatever the cause.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Carol, dogwoods set their blooms in the early fall of the previous year. I would guess the fall bud set was big, given a rainy fall. Those buds held, during a mild winter. The spring has nothing to do with the bud set or blooming of dogwoods. Yes, the previous fall conditions determine the extent of the bloom come spring. Every season is connected to the past, and the future. Everywhere I look, I see gorgeous. This is a very special spring. best regards, Deborah

  8. Sareena Jerath says

    Beautifully written, and so true! Just this morning, I was thinking that my front garden is like an orchestra!

  9. Dear Deborah, have you ever thought about writing a book? You are a natural…this post lovely. Your photos made my morning, again! Those dogwoods…I planted one in memory of my mother, about 7 years ago, how time flies! It is covered in buds this year…have a wonderful day, best..Nella

  10. Tom Baldinette says

    Deborah. Always a pleasure to view your own special “brand” of perspectives and observations. Such as the “lime green new growth” on your conifers, and which I also saw on my potted Yew this year and for which I now have an even better appreciation thanks to You. Can’t wait for next spring! Thank you. Tom in NC.

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