Well he’s here.
We’ve been expecting him for about three weeks now– he was late.
But as Nancy Willard wrote (and Alice & Martin Provensen illustrated), in one of my favorite picture books, A Visit to William Blake’s Inn:
The man in the marmalade hat
bustled through all the rooms,
and calling for dusters and brooms
he trundled the guests from their beds,
badgers and hedgehogs and moles.
Winter is over, my loves, he said.
Come away from your hollows and holes.
I haven’t come across any moles or badgers or hedgehogs (how I wish for hedgehogs) but something has awakened the plant world, and I completely suspect it’s the Man in the Marmalade Hat.
He’s been through all the garden beds.
I think Max might have glimpsed him, I don’t know.
In a daze of marmalade wonder I looked around for Where to Begin. Max suggested we dig something.
ROCK ALERT: I discovered that terrible frightening things live UNDER rocks, some of them quite evil looking and always slimy and wiggly or else dry and extremely quick-moving. (Max thought they were very cool but no.)
So anyway I lifted out all the stones and filled the holes underneath with soil then reset them up where they belong so they are tall and not underground anymore. Let me just say that I KNOW the bed in the above image still looks like winter or worse. It is just getting going, with fern fronds about to roll open. And of course its crowning feature is the dazzling Mimosa tree–evident here as the scraggly bare stick in the center. (The mimosa is hoping to win the very questionable Last-Tree-to-get-Leaves-Award again this year.)
[Should I dig through the old photo files to find a frothy summer mimosa image, so my dear readers will see why I bother? No I'll just distract them with another spring photograph...]
This is the Golden Currant (Ribes aureum var. areum), a terrific Oregon native plant. I love its soft sweet fragrance and party colors. I plant these against something, like a fence or post or a slow-moving person (Tillie supported one for two seasons once)–the plants sort of trail upward gracefully like this one is doing outside this very minute.
What did you say? Red currant? Sure.
I discovered I could propagate from cuttings this native shrub (Ribes sanguineum) so I have maybe eight of them dotted around. (I’m counting on not living long enough to regret these over-indulgences but I could be wrong and people will say, “She lives in the buried house, you know, the one surrounded by that horrible wall of red-flowered bushes.”) But I’ve already seen a pair of hummingbirds dancing around these rosey blooms, and honeybees as well (the Man in the Marmalade Hat woke up everybody) so it’s worth the risk.
And now for something completely different.
This is not part of my garden. It is instead a place I drive past on my way to anywhere west of here. At the side of the road the ground drops off abruptly to a deep ravine where water flows through a little building that has a ferny roof. The land rises immediately beyond the building, so this area is nearly always in shade.
(If you click on the following images and WordPress is liking me today you might see larger versions.)
My favorite feature of this building, besides that water runs through it, is the roof.
In addition, a garden of wild woodland plants flourishes all around the outside, including huge masses of native trilliums.
Western Trillium (Trillium ovatum)
Giant White Trillium (Trillium albidum)
There are hundreds and hundreds of both types of trillium growing in this tiny ravine, along with ferns and a huge variety of other wild flowers and plants.
All very odd and it looks so abandoned, I expect it to become part of an HBO series any day now–something about rifts in time, portals to space and chlorophyll. Or it might become a setting for some other story, you never can tell.
Well you Oregon gardeners know what comes next–best take your vitamins. And be comforted by what the bear said:
I will keep you from perilous starlight
and the old moon’s lunatic cat.
When I blow on your eyes,
you will see the sun rise
with the man in the marmalade hat.