Re-connecting with my Garden


I WAS VERY CONTENT in my Prospect Heights pied-a-terre this past winter and felt I had made the right move in taking the Brooklyn apartment. But when I went out to Springs, which I did occasionally from November through March, though the house was cozy and the atmosphere relaxing, I wasn’t particularly inspired, and wondered why I had so badly wanted a country home. Now it’s spring, and I remember.


After six long months, I’m back at work in the garden. Things are popping up all over, and it’s like greeting old friends. Hakonechloa, right on schedule! Yay, brunnera, you made it through the winter! Irises, don’t you look nice! Good to see you…thing that begins with L!


I spent much of the past week adding compost to my beds (making two trips to the East Hampton dump to load up on free compost and mulch), holding my breath and cutting back things that ‘flower on new wood,’ like the books say (Rose of Sharon, now reduced to sticks, below), worrying over deer-devoured hollies that don’t seem to be regenerating, and attempting damage control by spraying, spraying, spraying Deer-Out in the absence, so far, of a fence.


Most of all, I’ve been appreciating the changes unfolding daily and just observing — the unfurling ferns, daffodils blooming even under the new deck, a hummingbird nest in a tree, below. I thought it was garbage, longtime NYC dweller that I am — forgive me, hummingbird — but a knowledgeable friend said it’s a hummingbird’s nest (and it may even be good luck).


I’m also taking in what’s happening locally: the creative window boxes at stores and restaurants in town, lawns filled with daffodils, the pink-purple plum trees flowering in my next-door neighbor’s backyard.

Below, the biggest, prettiest cherry tree on my road


Whitmore’s Nursery made good on its word and replaced an enormous round ilex crennata they planted for me in December ’09. It started to fail last year and by this spring was dead. Poof — it’s like getting a new car, same model as the one that was totaled.

New ilex, below


I thought my abelia ‘Little Richard’ was dead, too. In fact, I dug it up, put it in a bucket, and drove to Spielberg’s Nursery in Amagansett. I didn’t expect them to refund my money or replace it, just wanted to ask what they thought had gone wrong. The woman looked at me in horror. “It’s in your car? Let me have a look…” And don’t ya know, she said it wasn’t dead, just late to leaf out, and that I should hurry home and stick it back in the ground pronto with fertilizer and water. So I did; it was out of the ground less than an hour and I’ve coddled it since. But does this look right to you?


Somehow the question of how long I’m going to stay in this house, and consequently how much I should invest, has faded from consciousness. I’m here for as long as I’m here, and I’m gardening.

6 thoughts on “Re-connecting with my Garden

  1. Glad you are back in town Cara and enjoying your garden. I would have guessed that was a Baltimore Orioles nest but whatever it is, it’s very cool! Your garden is shaping up nicely!

  2. I love that last line: “I’m here for as long as I’m here and I’m gardening.” I feel the same way. I absolutely HAVE to garden.

  3. Wow, what a magnificent Cherry tree!! I’m so glad you replanted your sleepy Abelia has been returned to her home. It will now be in some shock with cut roots, etc. so be extra patient this year. Same with all your shrubs & trees…many wake up late. Also, you may want to rescue your Daffodils from under your deck as soon as you can since they love sun. I must say, I’m laughing at your estimation of the nest. Do you know that a Hummingbird nest is less than 2 inches? LOL This could be any number of species, perhaps Orioles, but do check it out online, or maybe just be a little patient and you may find the couple will use it again this year, unless someone else moves in first! :o)

  4. P.S. Re your Hollies, give them timeas it’s so very early yet! They are hardy and will recover from deer grazing as mine always do. Be gentle with your Rose of Sharon shrubs, too, as I’m not so sure about such severe pruning particularly at this time of year. I always say Nature knows best and tend with a very gentle hand. Enjoy becoming acquainted with your lovely property and gardens!! A rule of thumb: “Make haste slowly.”

  5. Maybe it’s not a hummingbird nest — my friend is knowledgeable about birds, but I didn’t say she was expert! It’s probably 5 or 6 inches across. Allegra, Patti, thanks for checking in. Jeanne, welcome! Thanks for your thoughts and encouragement about the hollies. I think the Rose of Sharon will be OK — I did this last year just as drastically, and they were quite glorious in August/September. But we shall see…about everything!

  6. I’m happy to have seen a peek into your garden this time of year, and happier that you sound invigorated! I’m experiencing a similar sort of joy around my gardens, neighborhood, forest preserves etc, as everything is coming to life so beautifully.

Got something to say? Please say it!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s