A L M A N A C
By Noah Salt
March’s Garden To-Do List
The garden awaits, and there’s plenty to do. Let’s get to it, people. • This is the last good time to trim off dead wood from shrubs and perennials. • Rake out over-wintered flower and vegetable beds, weed and add composted material to improve the soil. If you haven’t done so in the past, send soil samples for testing. Check your local garden center for recommended resources. • This is a great time to visit public gardens to see elements of early spring and to gain useful insights on planting schemes and design. • Feed roses with organic blend of cottonseed meal and composted manure. • Time to plan cold-loving vegetables such as radishes, spinach, Asian greens, lettuce, broccoli, parsley and early peas. • Harden off tomatoes, peppers and eggplant by moving out doors to a cold frame. You may safely plant them in the garden after final frost, which generally happens in most of the state between April 10–20. • Early March is really the last good time to transplant perennials and plant trees and shrubs before autumn. • Do an inventory of your garden shed, repair tools and organize equipment. Now’s the time to get your lawn mower tuned up, even as you apply an early spring organic fertilizer.
Imagination, new and strange In every age, can turn the year; Can shift the poles md lightly change The mood of men, the world’s career. The lovely lines above constitute the final stanza of one of our favorite poems — Imagination — by the Scottish playwright and poet John Davidson, who drowned at age 51 in the ocean off England’s Land’s End on March 23, 1909, allegedly a suicide. Though he was greatly admired by the likes of William Butler Yeats and George Bernard Shaw, Davidson’s life was turbulent and wracked by poverty and frustration. After failing as a playwright he turned to light verse and found his voice, becoming an admired balladeer and eventually inspiring a younger generation of poets belonging to the so-called modern age, like Wallace Stevens and T.S. Eliot. The month of March is famous for its own brand of turbulence — our biggest snowstorms often come, violent rains that herald a change of season, the mythical Ides of March, and so forth — yet strikes us as a month when the human imagination yearns to be freed from its winter quarters and turned loose in a dozen directions at once. The gardener sees new life exploding from the Earth and is suddenly brimming with ideas that can “change the year” and lighten the “mood of men.” House sales rise with the mercury, birdsong sets loose raptures of anticipation, young men’s hearts turn to love, and — well, we could go on and on. The possibilities are only as limited as one’s imagination. As John Davidson reminds us with his elegy: There is a dish to hold the sea, A brazier to contain the Sun, A compass for the galaxy, A voice to wake the dead and done! So welcome, Spring. Welcome indeed.
New feet within my garden go New fingers stir the sod; A troubadour upon the elm Betrays the solitude. New children play upon the green, New weary sleep below; And still the pensive spring returns, And still the punctual snow! — Emily Dickinson, 1881
The Art & Soul of Wilmington
To see a garden in your dreams, filled with evergreen and flowers, according to experts on the subject, denotes great peace of mind and comfort. If you dream of walking on a well-kept lawn, you are in for an occasion of joy and prosperity. Raking and weeding suggests work still to be done, while to dream of using a lawn mower means you may soon be engaged in a tedious social function — after you finish up the lawn first, of course. To dream of seeing flowers in bloom and full color signifies pleasure and gain, while dreaming of walking through a park with your lover simply means you will be happily married for a very long time.
March 2015 •
The Art & Soul of Wilmington