My garden is warming up for a sprint into summer. Hops and tomatoes seem to be growing inches every day and the first lettuce is nearly ready to make its way into my lunch. Every morning, something new appears – this morning it was mature leaves on the radishes. Radishes are exceptionally rewarding to grow – they take a little water, a lot of sun, and in 30 days you have sweet, delicate roots bursting with zest and ready to be crunched in a salad or on bread with butter (my personal favorite). After two attempts, my melons were large enough to plant out this week. I am finding it hard to get over the short growing season. It seems like only last week I was debating the benefits of planting early and worrying about frost, but yesterday the temperature reached a sweltering 94° and I sat wilting inside and worrying about the state of my garden. Of course, the plants are much more adapted to the heat than I am and they thrived in the oppressive sun while I sweated like a glass of ice in what little shade I could find.
This morning I was greeted with an enormous Oriental poppy, blooming a deep red in a sea of purple salvia. The poppy was one of the first plants to green up this spring under several feet of snow, but it took its time to bloom – sending up to flower stalks 4 feet tall with plump heads waiting to bloom. And it waited, biding its time, until the weather, temperature, time of day, time of year, and moon phase converged and the protective sepals flung themselves open and the deep red petals unfurled themselves like the wings of a damp and newly hatched butterfly – reaching it’s royal purple stamens toward the sun.
A family of bluebirds is nesting in a nest box on our fence this year. So far they seem friendly enough, but our neighbors had a much less congenial pair last year. Trips to water the garden were fraught with danger. It would start innocently enough with a few chirps from the male – warning noises to be sure – but soon the chirps would turn to squawking as the paranoid bird launched itself into the air – dive bombing and circling. Our poor neighbor would send her dog out to run interference while she hurried past under a large hat to the safety of the garden. Hopefully our bluebirds are not related.
As the days get warmer I am looking forward to the first harvests of tomatoes. The smell of the plants makes me salivate just thinking of the tomato and goat cheese salads that await me in the coming months.