I could say, “They were just poppies.” But minimizing the loss after a major hailstorm hit my garden seems insensitive. After all, I am a flower person. I would never say to my dog friends, “Well it was just a dog …” when they experience loss, even if I am not attached to animals.
Once a year I have several weeks of poppy joy in my garden. It doesn’t last long, but each day I welcome new bright orange blossoms that seem surprisingly hardy, for their paper-like texture.
I garden a small urban lot, so my main poppy “field” is a section about 8 feet by 3 feet, in front of the large lilac bushes that border the alley on the west side of my property. I have a second, smaller section next to my patio, about 3 feet by 1 foot. Some years have better conditions than others.
As a perennial gardener, I have a succession of flowers. The spring bulbs are done, the basket of gold and candytuft are winding down. It’s time for poppies and iris. Other blooms will follow in due time.
Last week we had a brief, wet snow that flattened the poppy field. Still, one intrepid bloom opened, low to the ground.
Many other blossoms were ready to start their contribution to the field this week. The poppies by my patio are sheltered and the snow didn’t break them down. This weekend, the first of these poppies opened. I’m so glad I took time to enjoy them.
Last night about 1 a.m., I was awakened by loud pounding on the roof – hail! Hail that continued for a while – and ranged up to ½” – ¾” – chopping down leaves, plants, and flowers. The whole yard and street turned white with hail. There was nothing I could do in the middle of the night, except hope that the skylight didn’t break!
All the buds on the back poppy field were broken off. That’s it for this year. A couple of buds remain to open by the patio.
As I wandered around the garden this morning, knowing I had to get to my computer and work, I also contemplated the amount of garden cleanup that was ahead. Just yesterday afternoon I walked through the garden enjoying the fruits of my labor at weeding, thinking for late May, the garden was looking pretty good.
I picked up a broom and started sweeping leaves off the walkways. At least I could do something to start cleaning up. I couldn’t bear to just leave the mess untouched. I swept all the walkways, before returning inside to focus on something else for a while.
After lunch, another computer break for more sweeping, raking, and assessing. Look, the mat daisy is still blooming, even if a bit beat-up. The creeping veronica still offering some tiny purple-blue blossoms along the sidewalk. There’s a snapdragon in that yellow-coral color combination that I love. The lavender plants with their tough, thin foliage intact will survive – since their buds haven’t formed yet. The mums have been “pruned” but most likely will grow and bring fall color. The day lily leaves are flat but mostly intact and the buds haven’t formed, perhaps they will recover.
Other places I don’t want to look yet. Are there any tiny peaches left on the peach tree? Any cherries? Clouds are rolling in and another storm approaches – I retreat inside, knowing more work is ahead.
This is definitely a year for taking the long view on the garden. And I just happen to have more lavender plants on order to be delivered soon. Maybe I can muster up some hope for the garden. I know I will treasure each bloom that opens over the next month or two, because it can all change in an instant due to circumstances out of my control. Which is true of much more than a garden.