One of the perks of being retired is the ability to spend time sitting around, and -- now that the weather is cooperating -- sitting on the patio, observing the slice of the cosmos which is centered on our yard.
It’s always exciting to see the first tiny green shoots on the various shrubs near the house. How can so much life come from such tiny beginnings? The lifeless-looking reddish-brown rose canes have suddenly added another shade of red in the form of tiny little shoots down the length of the canes.
It’s possible I would have missed them entirely if I hadn’t been pruning the bush, gloved, but losing the battle of the thorns (another group of items on the tiny list). There were the leaf buds, smaller by half than the nail on my pinkie finger, curled tightly against the cane. By June, the bush will be covered by clusters of buds and then small, pinkish-white blossoms which will perfume the patio.
I bought baby plants at the Springside Park greenhouse sale, and as I transplanted some of them into a hanging basket, I looked carefully at their buds. The ivy geraniums look like tear drops, and are grouped in bunches of five. One has just begun to show color where the green covering is slowly parting. It will be white, which fits perfectly with the pink calibrachoa, whose buds are much smaller and more cylindrical. When they unfold, the petals are the size of half a matchstick but are already the vivid pink they will be when fully opened.
In the beautiful bird department we have a small wren who seems interested in the far corner of the pergola where the sweet autumn clematis vines are thick. Perhaps she is scouting nest locations? I’d love to have a wren family take up residence there as we have never had them as neighbors.
The hummingbirds returned about an hour after Bob hung the feeder full of sugar water. We have at least two, so we’re hoping they will be nesting nearby as well. My mother had one build a nest in a hanging fuschia plant on her back porch, and the inside of it was about the size of a soup spoon with eggs the size of miniature jelly beans. There’s something very complementary about the size of hummingbirds and the size of fuschia blossoms, dancing from their stems like little ballerinas in creamy white tutus. The hummers think so too, as they love to nip into the blossoms for a sip of nectar.
A little lower on the scale of loveliness, but still small and impressive are the ant hills appearing between the pavers on the patio. Excavating the sand a grain at a time, the ants have mounded their hills more symmetrically than I could do with drafting tools. Each hill is but a couple of inches in size, and the trio they have built suggests a scene from the land of Lilliput where Gulliver visited in Jonathan Swift’s novel "Gulliver’s Travels." I can’t help but marvel at their accomplishments even if I wish they were located elsewhere.
Bees are starting to buzz about, finding food in the early flowers and doing that special wiggle as they pollinate the strawberry blossoms. I am always happy to see these little insects returning because a garden without bees would just be a pile of dirt and useless plants. It’s disheartening to hear about all the ways the existence of bees is being threatened, so I send up a silent prayer of thanks every time I see one of those lovely little creatures buzzing by.
Anne Horrigan Geary is a regular Eagle contributor.