By Christina VanGinkel
Whenever I think of my garden, I think of what defines the house I live in as home. The garden is in every sense, an extension of the house. Even in the winter, when the plants are covered under layers of snow, there are the bird feeders and squirrel feeders to remind me of where the rest of the garden is sleeping. Once spring arrives and the snows begin to melt away, the green quickly begins anew. Whether winter or summer, I watch and walk through, and live in the space just as much as I do inside the walls of the house. Together, they form our home, a place that I love to be in, to walk, and work, and spend time with my husband, my grandson, and everyone else whom I call family.
Walking outside just this afternoon, I noticed bulbs already long at work renewing themselves, pushing not just up through the dirt, as they did that days ago, but reaching already for the summer sun that is still weeks away. Moss roses, a plant that is technically an annual, yet one that if given the chance to reseed undisturbed, will grow at such a pace that an inexperienced gardener would just assume that the plant must be a perennial. Our tiered garden is already showing signs of the moss roses showing their independence from other annuals by doing just that.
Also in the tiered garden is what looks to be a pine tree. Mind you, the tiered garden in question is not a fit home for a tree. I was about to pull it, considering it a weed, more or less, when my husband stopped me. Leave it, he said. It was there last year. He went on to tell me that he will transplant it when it grows a bit bigger, but that in the meanwhile it is not hurting a thing, and seems to be flourishing under the protection of the flowers that will grow along side of it again this summer as they did all last year. This reminds me how our home manages to always find room for strays, be they the human kind, animal kind, and now even of the plant variety!
It is also then that I notice that in my hurry to put things away last fall, I missed putting away a ceramic rabbit planter, the very planter that I have had since I was a teenager, which I made in ceramics class taught by a neighbor. It has been a resident of every garden I have planted for the last twenty-five years. Tucked up under the remains of a small bush, I cannot believe that I missed it before the snow fell this past winter. Now, it is broke into two big pieces, and several much smaller pieces that might be from sitting under the weight of the snow all winter long. I imagine it must have filled with water and then froze and broke. It has been hiding under the snow until just this week when the snow finally melted completely away. Being white, even when there was just a small amount of snow, it would have been camouflaged well enough that I did not notice it.
Still, I feel somewhat bereft, I cannot believe that after having it as a staple in my garden all of these years that I was careless enough to forget it last fall, and allow it to be left out over the winter months to become damaged beyond repair. I picked up the pieces, big and small, and tossed them into the garbage bin before I could dwell on the fact of my carelessness any longer. As soon as I tossed it in, my young grandson asked me why I did not glue the rabbit back together as I did his dinosaur, I never even thought of it was my simple reply. I quickly promised him that we would go shopping next week to the local garden center, and he could pick out a new bunny to live in our garden. He liked that idea, and asked if one of his dinosaurs could live in it too, and I thought that was as grand an idea as I could have thought up!